Adaptation and Survival

Individuals of a species are not all the same – some may be larger, hairier, fight off infections better, or have smaller ears. These characteristics are largely determined by an individual ’ randomness genes, which are passed down from their parents and passed on to their own offspring. Some of these characteristics, or traits, provide advantages like travel rapidly, persuasiveness, or attraction. If those traits are peculiarly helpful, individuals with those traits will produce more young than those without. Over generations, the number of individuals with that advantageous trait, or adaptation, will increase until the trait becomes park in that species.

Structural and Behavioral Adaptations

An adaptation can be structural, meaning it is a physical part of the organism. An adaptation can besides be behavioral, affecting the way an organism responds to its environment.

An case of a geomorphologic adaptation is the way some plants have adapted to life in dry, hot deserts. Plants called succulents have adapted to this climate by storing water in their shortstop, dense stems and leaves.

Migration is an exemplar of a behavioral adaptation. gray whales ( Eschrichtius robustus ) migrate thousands of kilometers every year. They swim from the cold Arctic Ocean in summer to the quick waters off the slide of Mexico to winter. Grey whale calves are born in the affectionate southerly water, and then travel in groups called pods to feed in the Arctic.

Adaptations that develop in reaction to one challenge sometimes help with or are used for another. such traits are called exaptations. Feathers were probably first gear adaptations for touch, like whiskers, or for regulating temperature. Later, feathers became longer and stiff, letting some species glide or fly.

Some traits, on the other hand, lose their function when other adaptations become more important. tell of these traits remain in a vestigial form — reduced or useless. Whales and dolphins have vestigial leg bones, the remains of an adaptation ( stage ) that their ancestors used to walk.


Adaptations much develop in answer to a variety in the organism ’ habitat.

A celebrated exemplar of an animal adjust to a change in its environment is England ‘s pepper moth ( Biston betularia ). Prior to the nineteenth century, the most common type of this moth was cream-colored with black spots. few pepper moths were gray or black.

As the Industrial Revolution changed the environment, the appearance of the pepper moth changed. The darker-colored moths, which were rare, began to thrive in urban areas. Their coal-black semblance blended in with the trees stained by industrial contamination. Birds couldn ’ triiodothyronine see the dark moths, so they ate the bright cream-colored moths alternatively. The cream-colored moths began to make a comeback after the United Kingdom passed laws that limited air out befoulment.


Sometimes, an adaptation or set of adaptations develops that splits one species into two. This serve is known as speciation.

Marsupials in Oceania are an example of adaptive radiotherapy, which happens when species develop to take advantage of resources that other species aren ’ t using. Marsupials, mammals that carry their young in pouches, arrived in Oceania before the land schism from Asia. Koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus ), for example, adapted to feed on eucalyptus trees, which are native to Australia. The extinct tasmanian tiger ( Thylacinus cynocephalus ) was a carnivorous marsupial and filled the lapp role as big cats, like tigers, on other continents.

The cichlid fish found in many of Africa ’ s lakes show another type of speciation, sympatric speciation. It happens when species share the same habitat. Adaptations have allowed hundreds of varieties of cichlids to live in Lake Malawi. Each species of cichlid has a alone, specialized diet : One type of cichlid may eat only insects, another may eat only alga, and another may feed merely on other fish.


Organisms sometimes adapt with and to other organisms. This is called coadaptation. Certain flowers produce nectar to appeal to hummingbirds. Hummingbirds, in go, have adapted long, sparse beaks to drink the nectar from flowers. When a hummingbird goes to feed, it unwittingly picks up pollen from the flowers, which is deposited on the following flowers it visits. In this kinship, the hummingbird gets food, while the establish ’ south pollen is distributed. The coadaptation is beneficial to both organisms.

Mimicry is another type of coadaptation. In apery, one organism has adapted to resemble another. The harmless king snake ( sometimes called a milk snake ) has adapted a color model that resembles the deadly coral snake. This apery keeps predators aside from the king hydra.

The mimic octopus ( Thaumoctopus mimicus ) has behavioral angstrom well as structural adaptations. This species of octopus can mimic the look and movements of animals like sea snakes, flatfish, portuguese man-of-war, and prawn.

Coadaptation can besides limit an organism ’ s ability to adapt to new changes in their habitat. This can lead to co-extinction. In southern England, the large blue butterfly adapted to eat red ants. When human activeness reduced the red ants ’ habitat, the local extinction of the red ant led to the local extinction of the big blue butterfly.

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