In the wild, animals go through different challenges. They are affected by harsh climatic conditions, hunted by predators, and sometimes fight for resources.
These conditions can be life-threatening as they can cause the extinction of certain species. To survive, animals need to come up with new ways that can help them stay alive longer.
However, it can be a bit difficult for us to know which animal adaptation happened before the others.
WHAT IS ADAPTATION IN ANIMALS
Adaptations are special skills or characteristics that help animals to survive in a given environment. These characteristics can be behavioral, physiological, or physical.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ANIMAL ADAPTIONS
- Animal adaptations increase the animal’s chances of survival when faced with danger.
- Adaptations are influenced by the animal’s need to survive, the environment, and other factors such as the search for mates.
- Adaptations are caused by evolutionary changes that occur over a period of time.
- Animals can take up to one million years to develop a new adaptation.
- Adaptations give animals an added advantage when searching for food, water, mates, and shelter.
TYPES OF ADAPTATIONS IN ANIMALS
Behavioral Adaptations of Animals
This refers to all the things that animals do to survive in response to unfavorable stimuli.
Animals can develop behavioral adaptations when dealing with abiotic and biotic factors.
Abiotic factors are non-living constituents of the environment that have a direct effect on the animal’s life. It can be water, climatic conditions, soil, etc.
Biotic factors are the living components that may cause an animal to develop certain adaptive behaviors in an environment.
Behavioral adaptations can be learned by animals over time. It is good to know which groups of animals participate in adaptive social behavior.
Examples of Behavioral Adaptations
When animals are exposed to harsh climatic conditions, they spend most of their time in a dormant state.
Hibernation causes changes in the animal’s physiological structure.
It slows down metabolism, lowers body temperature, thereby allowing animals to survive when food is scarce.
Animals mainly migrate when searching for food. They can also move from cold to warmer regions to increase their chances of survival.
Physical Adaptations of Animals
Physical adaptations are structural modifications made to certain parts of an animal’s body.
The modifications enable the animals to cope better with their habitat.
Unlike behavioral adaptations, physical adaptation cannot be learned.
It takes many generations for animals to develop physical adaptations.
Examples of Physical Adaptations
Thickness of fur
Animals that live in extremely cold regions have thicker fur compared to those that live in warmer areas. Tundra animal adaptations allow the animals to survive cold and windy environments.
Some animals can blend with their surroundings to conceal their appearance. This allows them to move without being detected by other animals.
The Shape of a bird’s beak
Birds have different shapes of beaks depending on the type of food that they eat. For example, nectar-eating birds have slightly curved and long slender beaks that give them easy access to nectaries. Birds of prey have strong hooked beaks that can rip flesh.
Conserve water and energy
Animals that thrive in deserts have unique adaptations that help them conserve water and energy. That is why camels have large humps where they store fat.
Physiological Adaptations of Animals
These are changes that occur within the animal’s body. Such changes mainly affect metabolism and other biological processes.
Most desert animals have few or no sweat glands as this helps in conserving water.
Examples of Physiological Adaptations
Metamorphosis animal adaptation enables insects to exploit different niches throughout their stages of development.
Some animals have specialized glands that prevent water from leaving the bloodstream
HOW DO ADAPTATIONS HELP ANIMALS
Adaptations protect Animals from harsh climatic conditions
Animals with effective adaptive behaviors can escape unfavorable climatic conditions in good time. When it’s extremely cold they can flee to warmer areas in search of food.
Increases chances of survival
When animals adapt, they are more likely to survive in their habitat. They’ll be able to cope with the existing conditions, find food and mates.
Adaptations protect Animals from Predators
Through adaptation, animals that are at the bottom of the food chain can develop new ways of avoiding predators.
Predators can also develop effective hunting techniques that can help them catch the prey.
HOW DO ANIMALS ADAPT TO THEIR ENVIRONMENT IN THE RAINFOREST
Rainforests are made up of large trees and continuous canopies that make the environment unique.
For animals to survive in the rainforests, they have to adapt to their environment accordingly. Tropical rainforest animal adaptations allow certain species to thrive in these conditions.
Since the trees block most of the sun’s rays, animals in rainforests spend most of their time atop trees.
Moving from one tree to another can be difficult. As such, the animals have to develop adaptive characteristics that can help them survive.
Examples of how Animals Adapt to their Environment in the Rainforests
Sloths use camouflage to hide from predators. This makes them harder to spot even when the predator is close. Additionally, they move slowly to avoid detection.
Monkeys found in rainforests have strong limbs and long tails that they use when climbing trees.
The birds have specialized beaks that allow them to eat different types of fruits found in rainforests.
Read also: Why biodiversity is so important?
ADAPTATION IN PLANTS AND ANIMALS
Like animals, plants can also adapt to different environmental conditions. This is why some plants can do well in extremely harsh conditions like the desert.
Most plant adaptations are physiological. For example, plants that grow in the desert have fewer leaves compared to those that grow in tropical regions.
Both plants and animals adapt to survive in the environment that they are in.
ADAPTATION IS ESSENTIAL FOR PLANT AND ANIMAL SURVIVAL
For an organism to survive, it must adapt to its environment. Adaptation gives plants and animals an added advantage when facing harsh climatic conditions.
Animals, in particular, can develop adaptation behaviors that can protect them from predators. They will also be able to find mates, thereby preventing their extinction.
But most importantly, adaptation prepares plants and animals to face anything that the environment may throw at them.
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