The Llama (Lama glama) is a large camelid native to South America. The term llama is sometimes used more broadly, to indicate any of the four closely related animals that make up the South American branch of the family Camelidae: the Llama iteslf, the Vicuna, Alpaca, and Guaaco.
The difference between llamas and alpacas is llamas are larger then alpacas. Also llamas' heads are oval and alpacas' heads are round. The difference between llamas and camels is that camels have a hump and llamas do not. Llama, sometimes rendered lama in the 1900s, a word by which the Peruvians designated one of a small group of closely allied animals, which, before the Spanish conquest of America, were the only domesticated ungulates of the country, being kept, not only for their value as beasts of burden, but also for their flesh, hides, and wool, - in fact, supplying in the domestic economy of the people the place of the horse, the ox, the goat, and the sheep of the Old World. The word is now mainly restricted to one particular species or variety of the group, and sometimes used in a generic sense to cover the whole. Llamas are seeing increasing use in North America as fiber producing animals and as guard animals for sheep herds which they protect from coyote attacks.
Although they were often compared by early writers to sheep, and spoken of as such their affinity to the camel was very soon perceived, and they were included in the genus Camelus in the Systema Naturae of Linnaeus. They were, however, separated by Cuvier in 1800 under the name of Lama along with alpaca and guanaco. Vicuna are in genus Vicugna. The animals of the genus Lama are, with the two species of true camels, the sole existing representatives of a very distinct section of the "Artiodactyla" or even-toed ungulates, called Tylopoda, or "boss-footed," from the peculiar bosses or cushions placed on the under surface of their feet, and on which they tread. This section thus consists of a single family, the Camelidae, the other sections of the same great division being the Suina or pigs, the Tragulina or chevrotains, and the Pecora or true ruminants, to each of which the Tylopoda have more or less affinity, standing in some respects in a central position between them, borrowing as it were some characters from each, but in others showing great special modifications not found in any of the other sections.
The discoveries of a vast and previously unsuspected extinct fauna of the American continent of the Tertiary period, as interpreted by the palaeontologists Leidy, Cope, and Marsh, has thrown a flood of light upon the early history of this family, and upon its relations to other mammals. It is now known that llamas at one time were not confined to the part of the continent south of the Isthmus of Panama, as at the present day, for their remains have been abundantly found in the Pleistocene deposits of the region of the Rocky Mountains, and in Central America, some attaining a much larger size than those now existing. There have also been found in the same regions many camel-like animals exhibiting different generic modifications, and, what is more interesting, a gradual series of changes, coinciding with the antiquity of the deposits in which they are found, have been traced from the thoroughly differentiated species of the modern epoch down through the Pliocene to the early Miocene beds, where, their characters having become by degrees more generalized, they have lost all that especially distinguishes them as Camelidae, and are merged into forms common to the anecstral type of all the other sections of the Artiodactyles. Hitherto none of these annectant forms have been found in any of the fossiliferous strata of the Old World; it may therefore be fairly surmised (according to the evidence at present before us) that America was the original home of the Tylopoda, and that the true camels have passed over into the Old World, probably by way of the north of Asia, where we have every reason to believe there was formerly a free communication between the continents, and then, gradually driven southward, perhaps by changes of climate, having become isolated, have undergone some further special modifications; while those members of the family that remained in their original birthplace have become, through causes not clearly understood, restricted solely to the southern or most distant part of the continent. There are few groups of mammals of which the palaeontological history has been so satisfactorily demonstrated as the one of which we are treating. 
The following characters apply especially to the llamas. Dentition of adults:-incisors 1/3 canines 1/1, premolars 2/2, molars 3/2; total 32. In the upper jaw there is a compressed, sharp, pointed laniariform incisor near the hinder edge of the premaxilla, followed in the male at least by a moderate-sized, pointed, curved true canine in the anterior part of the maxilla. The isolated canine-like premolar which follows in the camels is not present. The teeth of the molar series which are in contact with each other consist of two very small premolars (the first almost rudimentary) and three broad molars, constructed generally like those of Camelus. In the lower jaw, the three incisors are long, spatulate, and procumbent; the outer ones are the smallest. Next to these is a curved, suberect canine, followed after an interval by an isolated minute and often deciduous simple conical premolar; then a contiguous series of one premolar and three molars, which differ from those of Camelus in having a small accessory column at the anterior outer edge. The skull generally resembles that of Camelus, the relatively larger brain-cavity aud orbits and less developed cranial ridges being due to its smaller size. The nasal bones are shorter and broader, and are joined by the premaxilla. Vertebrae:-cervical 7, dorsal 12, lumbar 7, sacral 4, caudal 15 to 20. Ears rather long and pointed. No dorsal hump. Feet narrow, the toes being more separated than in the camels, each having a distinct plantar pad. Tail short. Hairy covering long and woolly. Size smaller and general form lighter than in the camels. At present and within historic times they are entirely confined to the western side and southernmost parts of South America, though fossil remains have been found in the caves of Brazil, in the pampas of the Argentine republic, and, as before mentioned, in Central and North America.
In essential structural characters, as well as in general appearance and habits, all the animals of this genus very closely resemble each other, so that the question as to whether they should be considered as belonging to one, two, or more species has been one which has led to a large amount of controversy among naturalists. The question has been much complicated by the circumstance of the great majority of individuals which have come under observation being either in a completely or partially domesticated state, and descended from ancestors which from time immemorial have been in like condition, one which always tends to produce a certain amount of variation from the original type. It has, however, lost much of its importance since the doctrine of the distinct origin of species has been generally abandoned. The four forms commonly distinguished by the inhabitants of South America are recognized by some naturalists as distinct species, and have had specific designations attached to them, though usually with expressions of doubt, and with great difficulties in defining their distinctive characteristics.
The guanaco has an extensive geographical range, from the high lands of the Andean region of Ecuador and Peru to the open plains of Patagonia, and even the wooded islands of Tierra del Fuego. It constituted the principal food of the Patagonian Indians, and its skin is invaluable to them, as furnishing the material out of which their long robes are constructed. It is about the size of a European red deer, and is an elegant animal being possessed of a long, slender, gracefully curved neck and fine legs. Dr Cunningham, speaking from observation on wild animals, says
The alpaca is believed by most naturalists to be a variety of the vicuna; others have, however, identified it with the guanaco, and some consider it as a distinct species. It is usually found in a domesticated or semi-domesticated state, being kept in large flocks which graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru and northern Bolivia at an elevation of from 14,000 to 16,000 feet above the sea-level, throughout the year. It is not used as a beast of burden like the llama, but is valued only for its wool, of which the Indian blankets and ponchas are made. Its colour is usually dark brown or black. The characteristics of its wool, and the history of its introduction into British manufacturing industry, are described in the article Alpaca
Original text scanned in from the 9th (1880) edition of an encyclopedia published in Edinburgh.