What is an adaptation?
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Our planet is home to millions of animal species – they live on every continent and in every type of environment. We can find animals everywhere; from the hottest deserts to the thickest jungles, snowy mountains to the depths of the ocean.
Australian animals are unique, with many of our native animals only being found in Australia. We have over 370 species of mammals, over 800 species of birds including two flightless birds, hundreds of reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of invertebrates and marine animals.
Each of these animals have their own challenges, which they need to overcome to thrive in their environment. But what happens when their environment changes? How do animals survive when the worst happens? Watch Genevieve’s video below to find out!
- All life on our planet is made up of cells. Cells are microscopic building blocks which house our genetic information. This genetic information consists of genes, which tell an animal’s body how to grow and what features it should have. We call this genetic information deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short.
- DNA is stored in tight bundles in our cells. However, if you were to stretch out the DNA from a single cell and placed each strand end to end it would be nearly two metres long! If you did this for all your DNA, and the resulting strand would be 108 billion kilometres long – the same as about 280,000 trips to the Moon!
- Living things which have adapted to the harshest of environments are known as extremophiles. Many of these are single-celled organisms which can survive everywhere from inside volcanoes to the very salty bottom of the Mariana Trench.
- Write down a definition for 'adaptation'.
- Why do animals need to adapt?
- How do changes get passed down to future generations?
- What are the three different types of adaptations animals can have?
- Physiological and structural adaptations are quite similar, but what makes them distinct?
- Humans are animals too! Can you think of one of each type of adaptation that we have that helps us to survive in our environment?
About the video
In Adaptation: Now That's Change! Genevieve examines how animals fit into their environment and what they must do to survive if their habitat changes. Combining graphics and close encounters with cuddly — and not-so-cuddly — creatures, she shows how adaptations happen over time and the sort of features that develop to help animals thrive.
Sponsored by the University of Sydney, the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize is a national short film competition that encourages school students to communicate a scientific concept in a way that is accessible and entertaining to the public while painlessly increasing their science knowledge. It is intended to support budding young scientists across the nation, who will be our future leaders in research, discovery and communication. You can learn more about the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize here.