Animal Adaptations. The Top 10 List of Awesome Animal Adaptations!

Animal Adaptations The Top 10 List of Awesome Animal Adaptations! Have you ever wondered how animals are able to survive in the wild? Animals have ...
Author: Vivien Wilkins
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Animal Adaptations The Top 10 List of Awesome Animal Adaptations!

Have you ever wondered how animals are able to survive in the wild?

Animals have certain adaptations that help them to survive.

I. What is an adaptation? A. An adaptation is a change in an animal’s physical structure or behavior that helps an animal to survive or reproduce 

Examples: The shape of a bird’s beak, number of fingers and toes, or the color of an animal’s fur.

B. Physical adaptations do not develop during one lifetime, but over many generations. C. Behavioral adaptations may be instinctive or can be taught

II. Now to our Top Ten List - Number 1!  

Living in communal or family groups. Animals can derive a lot of benefit from spending time with other members of the same species. They can help each other find food, defend against predators and care for young. Simplest and most common form of group living in the natural world is that of nuclear families, which may consist of a male/female couple(s) with their young

Now to our Top Ten List - Number 2!  

The ability to fly! Animals have evolved a number of ways of navigating the Earth, including walking, swimming, climbing and hopping. But the evolution of flight, takes maneuvering on this planet to a higher level. Flying not only delivers an animal from one place to another much faster than lumbering along with a pair of legs, it also allows creatures to escape predation, explore new territories and look for resources that might otherwise be out of reach.

Physical adaptations Bird’s hollow bones With hollow bones, birds can fly for long distances (less body weight) Some bird’s bones also have air cavities (extensions of the air sacs)

The bird’s bones are a physical adaptation that helps it to fly

Now to our Top Ten List - Number 3! 

Migration, one of the greatest adaptations in the animal kingdom It is the movement of a population of animals along the horizon as they move from one place to another. The reasons for migration are varied, but they usually have to do with finding food and a good place to mate. Some animals cover large parts of the globe with their migration routes. For example, the arctic tern makes an annual migration from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to its wintering grounds in Antarctica, covering a distance of 25,000 miles.

Number 4 – Camo!  

Ok, its really camouflage Some can make themselves appear to be something boring, like the walking stick, which looks very much like a twig. The ability to blend into the surrounding environment can come in handy when trying to avoid a predator

More camo! 

Several animal species, including scorpionfish and leaf frogs, can change their appearance to match their surroundings.

Or even use it like this owl to hide from prey

Number 5 – Hibernation 

Having to get out of bed on cold winter days can be unpleasant enough to make hibernation seem like a pretty smart idea. After all, it's a great way to escape the cold and an ingenious method of surviving in harsh conditions or when resources are scarce. Some animals, such as the America black bear, snooze through winter but can be aroused from their slumber somewhat easily.

Deep Hibernation 

A lot of animals hibernate, including chipmunks, hedgehogs, even bats Some, such as most small mammals, enter a deeper state of suspended animation.

Resource Conservation No.6! 

For animals that live in areas where resources such as food and water are scarce for long periods of time, the ability to conserve fat and water in the body can mean the difference between life and death. An example of resource conservation comes from the Bactrian camel, which lives in Asia, where temperatures range from -20°F in winter to 100°F in summer. Bactrian camels have humps that are filled with fat, which can be converted into energy and water in lean times. Second, they can forgo sweating until their body temperatures reach nearly 105°F.

Defense Mechanisms No. 7 

Animals need to protect themselves from predation Anti-predator adaptations are mechanisms developed through evolution that assist prey organisms in their constant struggle against predators

Defense Mechanisms No. 7! 

A lot of species in the animal kingdom try to appear larger in order to ward off predation, but the blowfish, also called a puffer has the ability to puff up to about twice its normal size in response to a predator's advance. When threatened, blowfish pump air or water into their extremely elastic stomachs. At that point they can barely move, but it doesn't usually matter since they are virtually inedible in that form.

No. 8 Keeping Warm! (protective body coverings) 

For most people, hair is a decorative yet essentially unnecessary feature of their anatomy. But to most mammals in the wild, hair offers important protection from the elements. The musk ox is a superb example. It has an important adaptation to its bitterly cold home on the vast Alaskan tundra: Its thick, shaggy hair hangs down to the ground and gives the ox the protection it needs to endure frigid temperatures. This hair helps the animal survive as winter temperatures drop to an average of -30°F.

No. 9 Parasitism 

Some females relish the joy of motherhood, while others would just as soon let somebody else do the work for them. For example, certain cuckoo birds are famous for their habit of nest parasitism, which refers to laying their eggs in the nests of other species, who then feed and care for the cuckoos' orphaned offspring. The young cuckoos are larger and more aggressive than the hatchlings of the host nest. In the stiff competition for food, the weaker nest-mates usually die. Sometimes, the young cuckoos will push other eggs or chicks out of the nest, thereby eliminating the competition in the first place. It's an excellent adaptation for the cuckoo, but a disastrous one for the nest-owner.

No. 10! Living with friends 

Coadaptation – when organisms

sometimes adapt to and with other organisms. Certain flowers have adapted their pollen to appeal to hummingbirds nutritional needs. Hummingbirds have adapted long, thin beaks to extract the pollen from certain flowers. In this relationship, the hummingbird gets food, while the plants pollen is distributed.

III. Physical adaptations A. are body structures that allow an animal to find and consume food, defend itself, and to reproduce its species.

B. Physical adaptations help an animal survive in its environment. © A. Weinberg

IV. Behavioral Adaptations… Behavior - is the way in which an organism responds to stimuli.

A. Behavioral Adaptations enhance survival and allow animals to respond to their environment.

B. Behavioral Adaptations are animals’ actions, usually in response to some type of external stimulus.

More on Behavior: Behavior - is the way in which an organism responds to stimuli. C. Instinct - is a behavior an animal had when it is born.  Ex. Birds build nests. D. Learned Behavior - is a behavior which is taught. 

Mouse learns a maze to get to the food at the end.

Make a T chart: Physical Adaptations Behavioral Adaptations

We will look at several different adaptations and you will decide which side of the chart to place the adaptation

Physical or behavioral? Body parts (claws, beaks, feet, armor plates, skulls, teeth) Hawk’s beak adapted to catch and eat prey

Heron’s beak adapted to catch and eat moving fish

Finch’s beak adapted to cracking seeds

hummingbird’s beak adapted to sipping nectar

The bird’s beak is an adaptation that helps it to eat, drink, and to pick things up.

Physical or Behavioral? Camouflage (use of color in a surrounding)

The chameleon can change its color to match its surroundings.

Physical or Behavioral adaptation? Mimicry(looking or sounding like another living organism)

The Viceroy butterfly uses mimicry to look like the Monarch butterfly. Can you tell them apart?

I’m the Viceroy!

Not poisonous


I’m the Monarch!

Physical or Behavioral adaptations?

Chemical defenses (like venom, ink, sprays)

Physical or Behavioral? Mating – include males competing for mates, how females choose mates, if the pair stay together to raise offspring

Physical or Behavioural? 

Migration - This is when an animal or group of animals moving from one region to another and then back.  Animals migrate for different reasons.     

better climate better food safe place to live safe place to raise young go back to the place they were born.

Physical or behavioral adaptations? Fish Gills Fish gills allow fish to absorb oxygen from the water as it passes over the gills

The fish’s gills is a physical adaptation that helps it to breathe oxygen.

Hibernation (is this physical or behavioural?) 

This is deep sleep in which animal’s body temp drops, body activities are slowed to conserve energy. Ex. Bats, woodchucks & bears.

Burrowing – which category? 

Animals can have multiple reasons to burrow – to escape predators, to hibernate, to have a safe place to raise young

Care of young – which side of the chart does this go? 

Animals have adapted MANY ways to care for the young. Some examples are: penguins regurgitating food, elephant herds protecting the young and joeys in mother’s pouches

Body coverings – which side of the chart does this go? 

Animals have adapted MANY ways to stay protected and warm (or cool)

Response to danger 

Fight or flight response – fear is the base of this response that occurs neurologically in the brain.

Response to Stimulus (Physical or Behavioral?) 

Animals respond to stimulus in order to respond to what is happening in their environment in order for living things to survive those changes, we must be able to respond to them. Any detectable change in the environment is called a stimulus. 

Tricky question – it depends!

V. Stimulus and Response Stimulus - is event or condition that causes an organism to react.  Outside the body – smells, noises, light, water  Inside the body – lack of oxygen causes yawning  Stimuli (plural of stimulus) can come from a. living things b. nonliving things c. changes in the environment 

Types of Stimuli: 

External – comes from the organism environment Ex. cold, heat, light

Internal – comes from inside the organism Ex. hunger, thirst, fever

Responses (to stimulus) 

Response - is the reaction to a stimulus. The response can be some action, movement, or change in behavior of an organism. The response can help to protect the organism.

Check your outline! 

Make sure it is complete, with examples! Now find the reading and worksheets

Stimulus Reading and Worksheets: