Fossils of early llamas have been found in the western part of North America. These creatures were about one foot high. Some migrated south to the Andes, primarily to what is now known as Peru and Bolivia, where they evolved into the llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos we know today. Others migrated over a land bridge to Asia and evolved into camels.
Around 4,000 BC they were domesticated by the Incas. The Incas used llamas in many ways. Males and barren females were sacrificed in religious rites. Llama fiber was woven and used by the common people. The finer fiber from the vicuna and alpaca was reserved for the nobility. Meat from llamas was both eaten fresh and preserved through salting and drying. Parts of their digestive tracts were used for medicines.
Llamas were increasingly used as beasts of burden late in the Inca Empire. They were the primary land transport until early in the 20th century when motorized vehicles began to replace the llama.