Lesson Plan - Get It!
- Have you ever been to a new city that is quite different from your hometown?
Think of the trip with the following questions:
- What did you feel upon your arrival to this new place?
- How did you react to the new food and weather?
- What were your reactions in dealing with these changes?
- If you were not suited to the new environment, how would you survive?
In order for animals to continue populating the planet, they have to make it through the toughest of conditions. Nature has an ugly side, and animals have a few ways of combating this.
Let’s take a closer look.
Population groups tend to have certain characteristics that are well-suited to their environment.
Skin color, physical features, and even emotional makeup, suit these people groups to their environment. However, people can put on and take off garments, change their diets, build different structures, invent devices, and otherwise adapt to their surroundings. Animals, on the other hand, are kind of stuck with what they have, just like humans are basically the same, with minor differences.
Animal populations survive and thrive when they are suited to their environment. The characteristics that allow this are generally structural, or the physical features of an animal. These can be body parts or a pattern on the animal’s body. These are the characteristics that make them the unique species that they are.
- What are some examples of these so-called features?
Consider the following:
- Have you ever wished you could fly like a bird?
It’s no wonder we cannot glue some feathers on and take flight. Sure, feathers are a necessity for a bird to fly. However, it is the bird bones that are specially designed for flight. Birds have a lightweight skeleton made mostly of thin and hollow bones. These are essential for a bird to fly.
- In case you don’t like the idea of flying, have you thought about invisibility superpowers?
Certain species of lizards are masters in the art of camouflage.
Camouflage is a change in color or shape that protects an animal from attack by making the animal difficult to see in the area around it.
- How can a predator hunt something it can’t see?
It certainly makes it a challenge.
The arctic hare is well-suited to survive in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Check out National Geographic’s article, Arctic Hare.
In addition to structural characteristics, animals have always been creatures of instinct. Their behaviors are certainly worthy of scientific inquiry. There are two main survival behaviors that several species of animal exhibit. These are hibernation and migration.
Hibernation is the period an animal spends in the winter sleeping or resting. Bears are a prime example of a hibernating animal. They have to eat thousands of calories a day in preparation for long-term sleeping. It’s amazing they don’t get sick from all that food!
Migration is when an animal moves from one area to another at different times of the year. Once again, birds have proven to be well-designed. “Birds fly south for the winter.” You may have heard that said before. However, birds migrate for other reasons. In addition to escaping harsh winters, birds migrate to breed and look for abundant sources of food.
Not all birds migrate, however. Those who live in climates that don't change too much, like penguins in the cold and parrots in the jungle, have no need to migrate; their conditions and food supplies remain stable.
All of these characteristics help animals to survive. They cannot build different houses or vary their diets very much or buy new clothes. If they find themselves in a new or rapidly-changing environment, they will probably — as individuals and groups — die out.
Continue on to the Got It? section to learn about natural selection.