What are animal adaptations?
Adaptations are special characteristics that help plants and animals to survive in a specific environment. If there are any changes in the environment then it is important for the plants and animals to adapt to these changes. This is because it will improve their chances of surviving and reproducing. Generally, organisms are well adapted to biotic and abiotic conditions of the environment.
The theory of evolution states that living things have adapted and changed over time. This theory suggests that all living things developed from earlier types. All living organisms have changed from what they were millions of years ago. This is due to changes and adaptations. Organisms adapt to changing environments. This theory grew from studying living organisms and fossils. Fossils provide us with an insight into the types of animals and plants that existed many years ago.
Natural selection is known as survival of the fittest. This plays an important role in evolution. It is essentially the process in which the best-adapted organisms are able to survive and reproduce. Desirable characteristics are passed down from the parents to the offspring, so advantageous alleles are passed onto the offspring. An organism’s genes code for different traits, such as how the organism looks, its behaviour, and its structure. Genes copy themselves in order to make new cells. During the process of making new cells, mistakes can occur that changes the genetic code; these are called mutations. Mutations can either harm the organism, have no impact on the organism, or they can help the organism to survive and reproduce.
Species that are not adapted will be at risk of becoming extinct. This can occur due to new predators, disease, destruction of habitats, change in the environment, or increased competition for resources.
Adaptations are usually inherited from parents or they come from random mutations. There are three types of adaptations:
- Behavioural adaptations
- Physiological adaptations
- Structural adaptations
What are behavioural adaptations?
Behavioural adaptations are actions that help an organism to survive and reproduce.
Examples of behavioural adaptations:
- Wolves work together in packs when hunting prey.
- Bears hibernate in winter to conserve energy and survive the cold climate without food.
- Male penguins huddle together during winter to help them avoid heat loss and survive until spring.
What are physiological adaptations?
Physiological adaptations are body processes that helps an organism to survive and to reproduce.
Examples of physiological adaptations:
- Snakes produce venom to defend themselves and to kill their prey.
- Skunks release an awfully smelling spray to defend themselves from predators.
What are structural adaptations?
Structural adaptations are features of an organism’s body that helps it to survive and to reproduce.
Examples of structural adaptations:
- Some animals such as tigers, have sharp claws that help them to catch prey.
- Dish have gills that help them to breath in water
- Leaves are usually large to maximise the rate of photosynthesis.
- Plants have colourful flowers to attract pollinators.
Which animals are well adapted to its environment?
Camels are well adapted animals. They live in the desert. Camels gave thick fur on the top of their body for shade, and they have thin fur everywhere else to allow easy heat loss. They are well camouflaged, and they have humps to store fat. Camels also have a large surface area to volume ratio to maximise heat loss. Their large feet help them to walk on hot sand. This helps to spread their weight on the sand so they don’t sink into the sand. Their long thick eyelashes protect their eyes from the sand. Camels have slit like nostrils which also helps keep out sand. They are able to tolerate high body temperatures. Camels can drink gallons of water in one go and they can also go a long time without water. Lastly camels lose very little water through urination and perspiration.
Which plants are well adapted to its environment?
Cacti are well adapted plants. They are adapted for survival in the desert. Cacti have long roots that spread over a wide area to find water. Their large stems help to store water. Cacti have thick waxy skin that helps them reduce water loss and to reflect heat. Their needle-like spines help to reduce water loss, this is because the spines minimise surface area, therefore reducing water loss by transpiration. Spines also protect the cacti from animals that might eat them. Cacti can lie dormant for many years until rain falls.