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The smallest member of the camelid family, the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) is thought to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca. With large, forward-facing eyes on a small, wedge-shaped head and sharply triangular ears, the vicuna looks endearing. It has a long neck and legs, and walks on the soles of its feet, rather than just the toes, to gain better grip on rocks and gravel, and minimize erosion of the fragile soil of its habitat. The head varies from yellow to reddish-brown in color, blending into a pale orange neck. A silky, white mane with fur up to 30 centimeters long covers the chest area, but the fur on the remainder of the body is soft and uniform in length. The back is pale brown and the underside and inner parts of the flanks are dirty white.




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