Hummingbird & Flower — Adaptation
Beyond close and long-term interaction between different species, numerous connections are often stronger. Many species coevolved, seen here by the shape of the tube-shaped trumpet flower which matches the long, narrow beak of a hummingbird.
Adaptations help organisms survive in their natural habitat, and can be anatomical (physical shape and structural changes, taking generations to achieve), behavioral (patterns of learned or inherited actions), or physiological (unique chemical/biological systems).
Examples of anatomical adaptations:
· The hummingbird’s tube-shaped beak fits perfectly into long, narrow flowers.
· Sharp exterior spines and a circular muscle under the skin of a hedgehog shelter the rest of its body when it rolls into a ball to escape a predator.
· The platypus has webbed feet suited for efficient swimming as well as walking on dry land.
· The polar bear’s white coat camouflages in snow and ice, while underneath, its black skin absorbs enough heat from the sun to keep warm.
· To easily grip snow, lynxes have a large gap between their first and second toes, and their big toe is set at a wide angle.
· The lion’s tongue is rough in order to help rip flesh from downed prey, and to clear meat from bone.
· Shallow cactus roots allow for absorption of limited water.
· The snake’s flexible jaw opens wide to take in whole prey.
Examples of behavioral adaptations:
· Tool use
· Language—verbal and non-verbal forms of communication
· Swarming patterns to hover in one place in order to feed
· Bird calls
· Migration is a response to seasonal variations as well as changes in food supply.
· Hibernation decreases body temperature, pulse rate, and metabolism for many mammals, as the body lives in extended “sleep” on reserves of fat.
· Possums “play dead” to deter predators who are looking for fresh prey.
· Many desert animals are nocturnal and/or dwell below ground to keep cool.
· The widgeon (or “robber bird”) steals food from other species when it can’t find food of its own.
· Squirrels store nuts for multi-seasonal sustenance.
· Dog obedience is a result of early and continued domestication.
· Due to habitat destruction, raccoons have adapted to living in human sheds, garages, and attics, and have also adapted to eating garbage.
Examples of physiological adaptations:
· Venom production and storage in glands of many snakes, scorpions, and spiders
· Changing or controlling body temperature: through panting (dogs, cats, pigs), gular fluttering (birds flap the wings near their throat to ‘fan’ themselves), torpor (a temporary drop in body temperature), and other adaptations based on biofeedback – internal ‘sensors’ that kick start various systems.
· Sustaining excessive cold or warm temperatures
· Protective coloration (chameleon)
· Breath-control at high altitudes
· Mimicry (the sweet-tasting viceroy butterfly looks like the gross-tasting monarch)
· The skunk’s warning spray
· Slime secretion
· Phototropism (plants growing in the direction of light)