Animal adaptations
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Animal Adaptations. Types of Adaptation. Anything that helps an organism survive in its environment is an adaptation.  It also refers to the ability of living things to adjust to different conditions within their environments. 

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Types of adaptation
Types of Adaptation

  • Anything that helps an organism survive in its environment is an adaptation. 

  • It also refers to the ability of living things to adjust to different conditions within their environments. 

  • Physical adaptations do not develop during one lifetime, but over many generations.

How adaptations occur
How adaptations occur

  • It is believed by some “scientists” that adaptations usually occur because a gene mutates or changes by accident!

  • According to these “scientists”, some mutations can help an animal or plant survive better than others in the species without the mutation. 

  • Another view holds that adaptations already exist within the genotype of the organism.

  • In other words - the adaptation is already there (in the genes) it just needs the right environmental conditions to bring it out.

How adaptations occur1
How adaptations occur

  • Over time, animals that are better adapted to their environment survive and breed. Animals that are not well adapted to an environment may not survive. 

  • The characteristics that help a species survive in an environment are passed on to future generations and those characteristics that don't help the species survive slowly disappear.

  • Example

  • Imagine one day a  bird is born with a beak that is longer than the beak of other birds. The longer beak helps the bird catch more food. Because of this, it is healthier,lives longer and breeds more. The gene for a longer beak is passed on to its offspring. 

  • The gene continues to be inherited generation after generation. Eventually, the longer beak is found in all of the species. This doesn't happen overnight. It takes hundreds of years for an adaptation to be found in an entire species. 

Structural adaptations
Structural adaptations

  • A structural adaptation involves some part of an animal's body.

    • Teeth

    • Body coverings

      ex. Hair, scales, spines, feathers  

    • Movement

      ex. Shape of feet

      or hooves.

Structural adaptations1
Structural Adaptations

  • Be Careful! There is a PROBLEM with looking at only structure!

  • What does the “owner” of this skull eat?

  • Would you believe….

  • FRUIT!?

  • This the skull of a….

Protective coloration
Protective Coloration

  • Protective coloration and resemblance allow an animal to blend into its environment. 

  • Another word for this is camouflage. 

  • Camouflage makes it hard for predators to single out individuals.  


  • Allows one animal to look, sound, or act like another animal to fool predators into thinking it is poisonous or dangerous.  

  • Ex. Owl & moth; coral snake and milk snake.

Behavioral adaptations
Behavioral adaptations

  • include activities that help an animal survive. 

  • can be learned or instinctive (born with).

    • Social behavior--ex. Live alone or in groups (merkats).  

    • Behavior for protection--ex. Opossum playing dead.  


  • 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.

  • This is when behavioural adaptation that involves an animal or group of animals moving from one region to another and then back again. 


This is deep sleep in which animal’s body temp droops, body activities are slowed to conserve energy.

E.g. Bats, woodchucks & bears (do not enter deep hibernation)

Estivation is a period of reduced activity in summer..


Adaptation applications lions
Adaptation Applications: Lions

  • Why are the eyes of a lion set in front of the head rather than on the sides?

  • Answer: Eyes in front of the head allow for depth perception and ability to judge distances when hunting.

Adaptation applications lions1
Adaptation Applications: Lions

  • What is the purpose of the mane on a male lion?What is the reason for the lion’s color?

  • A thick mane helps the male to appear larger and serves as protection for the throat. The tawny brown coat color camouflages the animal and young among vegetation.

Adaptation applications giraffe
Adaptation Applications: Giraffe

  • Why are giraffes able to go for long periods of time without water?

  • Answer: Giraffes drink water when available, but can go weeks without it. They rely on morning dew and the water content of their food.

Adaptation applications giraffe1
Adaptation Applications: Giraffe

  • How are their long necks adapted to their lifestyle?

  • Answer: This extra length is thought to have adapted to help the giraffe spot predators and other giraffes in the distance. Interestingly, giraffes and humans have the same number of vertebrate in their necks.

Adaptation applications zebras
Adaptation Applications: Zebras

  • How do zebras defend themselves?

  • Capable of running up to 40 mph. Zebras defend themselves by kicking and biting.