The animal featured on the cover of Learning Perl is the llama, a domestic member of the South American camels native to the Andean range. Also included in this llamoid group is the domestic alpaca, and their wild ancestors, the guanaco and the vicuna. All of these animals graze on grasses, which they chew and cud. The wild guanacos can run up to 40 miles per hour and will readily take to water in order to escape danger.
Bones found in ancient human settlements suggest that domestication of the alpaca and llama dates back 4,500 years. In 1531, when Spanish conquistadors overran the Inca Empire in the high Andes they found both animals present in great numbers. These camels are suited for high mountain life; their hemoglobin can take in more oxygen than that of other mammals.
Llamas can weigh up to 300 pounds, and are mainly used as beasts of burden. A packtrain may contain several hundred animals and can travel up to twenty miles per day. Llamas will carry loads up to fifty pounds, but have a tendency to be short tempered and will resort to spitting and biting to demonstrate displeasure. To the people of the Andes, llamas also provide meat, wool for clothing (although the smaller alpaca provides a superior wool), hides for leather, and fat for candles. Their wool can also be braided into rope and rugs, and the dried dung is used for fuel.
Edie Freedman designed this cover and the entire UNIX bestiary that appears on other Nutshell Handbooks. The beasts themselves are ...