noun, plural: alpaca or alpacas
(1) A camelid with long, fine, wooly hair, and closely related to llama, vicugna, and guanaco
(2) The fiber or fleece from alpaca
Alpaca is a domesticated camelid of the family Camelidae. As a camelid, it is characterized by having a long and slender neck as well as long legs. They do not have hooves but feet with two toes and soft pads. It is closely related to llama, guanaco, and vicuña. It is smaller though than llama. And unlike llama that is domesticated to be a beast of burden, the alpaca is breed for their fiber or fleece. Their fleece is used for making blankets, gloves, scarves, sweaters, etc.
Formerly, the scientific name of alpaca is Lama pacos. In 2001, it was changed to Vicugna pacos based on the DNA report by Dr. Jane Wheeler and others. It also implicated that the alpacas descended not from the guanacos but from the vicugnas.1 Alpacas are of two breeds: Suri and Huacaya.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Camelidae
- Tribe: Lamini
- Genus: Vicugna
- Species: V. pacos (Linnaeus, 1758)
1 Wheeler, J., Kadwell, M., Fernandez, M. Stanley, H. F., Baldi, R., Rosadio, R., & Bruford, M. W. (December 2001). “Genetic analysis reveals the wild ancestors of the llama and the alpaca”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 268 (1485): 2575–2584.