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Goal: To learn about common adaptation patterns
Grade Level: 2-4
Author: JungleWalk

Once children are familiar with common categories and groups of animals, they can learn about common adaptation patterns and major structures that are seen in animals and how they help them to survive in different environments. It is important that they learn to identify major structures of common animals.

What is Adaptation?
Adaptation are characteristics and mechanisms that animals have developed over the years to help them survive in a particular environment.

Discuss with students how we as humans have adapted in different environment such as using cars, our clothing during different seasons, etc.

Birds and Wings

Red-tailed Hawk
Just like we have legs to get around, to walk and run, animals use different organs for moving. Show pictures of different birds. Birds use wings to get around, for flying and gliding. They fly by flapping their wings up and down. As the wings beat down, they push the air back, making the bird move forward.

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  • A bald eagle flying and gliding (Wrightwood labs)

Jellyfish and tentacles
Jellyfishes use tentacles to move around. They flex their tentacles to push themselves forward. Video of a jellyfish moving in water.

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  • Jellyfish moving in water


Snake's Fangs

Snakes use their fangs to inject venom into their prey to paralyze or kill. Snake’s fang is a modified tooth and work like they syringe that is used to give vaccination shots, but the snake uses it for a very different reason. Below is a video showing the fangs of the snake nicely tucked inside its mouth and is seen when the snake yawns.

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  • Snake yawning

Cheetah's Body
The Cheetah is the fastest land animal. They have powerful legs that gives them the strength to run so fast. They also have streamlined bodies, wide nasal pages, and flatter rib cages - all designed to allow for easier breathing during running. The video below clearly shows its strength and agility.

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  • Cheetah Running


Elephant's Trunk

An elephant’s trunk is like a hand, it is used for bringing food into the mouth, drinking water, getting foliage from tall trees, etc. It also has two 'fingers' at its tip, which is used for moving and picking up small objects. The trunk is actually an elongated nose combined with the upper lip.

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  • Elephant eating a pumpkin

Monkey's Tail
Some monkeys use their tails for gripping on to tree branches and as part of their acrobatics. They can leap up to 30 feet (the height of a 3-storied house). Some monkeys have a bare (furless) patch near the tip of their tails which makes gripping possible. Such tails are called 'prehensile' tails.

  • Monekys using their tails to swing through branches
  • Black Howler monkey at Belize Zoo

Howler Monkey

Porcupine's Quills

The porcupine’s sharp quills are hardened hair and are used for protection against predators. It can lash its quilled tail when the enemies get too close, causing a lot of pain!

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  • Porcupine walking around

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