Adaptations is all about where organisms live and the adaptations that help them to survive.

Activity 1Every species is uniquely adapted to its environment. That is, its habits and its physical features allow it to compete successfully with other species and to survive in its habitat. The adaptations of animals match the environments they live in.
  • Oil glands on the skin of water birds allow them to trap air in their feathers, making it easier for them to float. They have webbed feet which push them along much more easily than would the claws of other birds.
  • Budgerigars have swept back wings which allow them to fly the great distances they must cover between water sources efficiently. Their swept-back form is also perfect for fast escapes from the birds of prey that lurk around our desert water-holes.

You may have heard of a program called PLATYPUS Care or 'river health'.
The platypus is a much loved, but seldom seen animal of our inland waterways. One reason why it is rarely seen is because it prefers the quiet hours of the mornings and afternoons. Possibly because it is avoiding predators, or perhaps because its own prey (yabbies, shrimps, worms and other invertebrates) are less active in the heat of the day.


Although great survivors (amongst the last of the monotremes - a branch of marsupials which is now mostly extinct), platypus are said to be fussy creatures. Visit platypus care...
  • Find information about the Platypus' favourite environments. Save this in a table. Include a picture.
  • Explain how platypus are adapted to their environment.
  • What threats do platypus face in our area?
  • Can you join a group to help the platypus?

What do you need?
  1. List all the things you need to survive.
  2. Where do these things come from?
  3. Rank the list in order, starting with most important thing that you need finishing with the least important.
  4. What could you live without? Explain.
  5. Divide your list into 2 groups, under headings of LIVING and NON-LIVING.
  6. How many organisms do you rely on to survive?
  7. Why do you live where you do?


Science Words

Read p 106 then fill in the missing words.

The place where an organism lives is called its _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . Each species has special features called _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ , which help them survive in their environment. An environment is made up of two groups of factors:
  • _ _ _ _ _ _ _ factors consist of all things which are non-living, such as water, air and light.
  • _ _ _ _ _ _ factors consist of all things which are living, such as animals and plants


Collect a beetle or other insect. Put it in a matchbox. Write the beetle's name on top. Bring the matchbox to your next science lesson where we will photograph it and look at it under a 3D microscope. Make sure it does not escape!


Alexander Beetle:

Poem by A.A. Milne,
Performed as a song by Melanie Safka

Activity 2

Bug Collecting!

Your task:
  1. Pictures: Take a picture of your beetle / insect from as many different angles as possible.
    • Use the microscope for a better picture too.
    • fly01.jpeg flyside.jpeg flywing.jpeg
  2. My Insect: Start a new slide in your keynote, label it My Insect
  3. Adaptations: Label the next slide Adaptations:
    • Put another picture of your insect on this slide.
    • Use arrows to point to all of the features of this insect.
    • Label these features and try to explain why they might be there.
      • This site might help you:
      • Screen Shot 2012-06-14 at 10.00.38 AM.png
      • The wikipedia page on insects will also help:
      • compoundeyes.jpeg
        • For example: Compound eyes on a fly:
          • these allow a fly to see every angle around its body so they can avoid prey.
          • They have very sensitive receptors and this means that they will rarely be caught by predators.
          • Remember, every feature on an organism is there for a reason and is an adaptation which allows that organism to survive in it's environment.
  4. Habitat and Environment: Label the next slide Habitat and Environment:
    • Find out what the preferred environment is for your insect and list this here.
    • Find bugs eye view pictures of the environment your insect lives in (search 'insect perspective').
    • flowerinsefct.jpeg treeinsect.jpeg ladybird insect2.jpeg
    • Include these photos in your keynote.
    • Describe the habitat and environment using full sentences and
    • find a picture of the insect in their natural environment.
  5. Activities: Complete one of the activities below either at BugsEd or the backyard bug collecting game on the Museum website!

Activity 3
Exploring Australian Environments

Save this document in your Science folder.
Research each of the four Australian environments and fill in each section. Replace the pictures with suitable images to show what each environment looks like. You can use page 108 of Science For Life 8 to help you complete this activity.


This year's abundant rains has meant a resurgence in the local frog population.
Some students have even found their cats with Southern Bell Frogs - a threatened species.
Visit the website.

Find out which frogs live in our area. What conditions do frogs need to survive?

Frogs have eyes on top of their heads rather than at the front like we do. Why might this be?
frogeyes.jpeg frogseyesreal.jpeg

What other adaptations do they have for their environment?
How do they compete with each other.

Some students found out that no two frogs (even in the same species) look the same.
What advantage could this have for the species?

Another student found that the Barking Frog has been found in Echuca. What does this frog look like?

Have a look at a frog's ears. Why do they not have ears like us (see Kermit). Why do they have 'flat' ears?
kermit.jpeg frogsear.jpeg

What might be the purpose of this adaptation?

What adaptation allows frogs to survive dry times?
Is this a behavioural or a physical adaptation?

Frogs have a split life cycle. The first half is lived in the water. The second more on land. This means that the juveniles of the species are not completing for food with the adults. This adaptation also restricts the areas they colonise.... or does it? Are there any frogs in the deserts?

Types of adaptations



Design an animal

Animals gain and adapt their physical features over millions of years, but our task today is going to cut down that time just a little - you are going to design an animal which is perfectly suited to its environment.

Background Information:
It is the future, the year 3000, and it is now possible for humans to build planets, and genetically engineer or create plants and animals to live on that planet. You are one of the scientists working on the animals, and it is your job to design and create an animal which will be perfectly suited to its environment on this new planet.

You need to...
  • pick one of the following environments of already created planets and
  • create an animal which is going to be strong and resilient enough to survive in that environment.
  • consider how this animal is going to stay warm or cool,
  • what it is going to eat,
  • how it is going to get its food and water, and
  • how it is going to care for its young to make sure they survive.
  • Size
  • Where will it shelter?
  • How will it protect/defend itself from attackers?

But wait, there's more...
  • Your animal must FIT INTO the existing food chain - it cannot be the ultimate predator (the one which can eat everything else and nothing can eat it).

Choose one of these planets:

    • Space_Sunset_on_the_cold_planet_014055_.jpg
    • This planet is dark and cold most of the time. It is very mountainous. It rains almost all day. Because of the wet, dark conditions, the only plants that grow well are small mosses and funguses. Animals on this planet include a type of mouse, a nocturnal hunting large cat, fish, and a variety of insects.

    • HOT_DRY_LANDS.jpg
    • This planet is dry and hot. Most of the planet is flat. Water is found in underground streams but there is little water on the surface of the planet. Most of the planet's surface is covered in sand, although there are patches of dry grass. When plants can get their roots down into the water table, they grow into tall trees with leaves at the top but not along the trunk. Plants which are not connected to the water table are small and dry, but they are edible. Animals on this planet include insects, a species of birds which roost in the high trees, a sand-colored lizard and a type of rat.

    • rainforest.jpeg
    • This planet is tropical: wet and hot. Most of the planet is covered by rainforest. The planet is very flat. Water collects in large pools and lakes which have water in them all year 'round. A species of poisonous plant grows thickly on the ground. The spines of this plant are poisonous, and any animal which steps on one is sure to die. The vegetation is plentiful, and includes leaves, fruits and nuts. Animals include carnivorous snakes, varieties of insects, monkeys, fish and birds.

    • mild.jpg
    • This planet has a moderate climate. It never gets very hot or very cold, but stays mild all year 'round. It rains for part of the year and the water forms pools and lakes which dry up towards the end of the year and then the planet is very dry. The planet is partly mountainous and partly flat. Vegetation includes tall trees with high leaves and fruit, and a smaller plant which bears nuts. However, these nuts are inside hard shells which need to be removed before the nut can be eaten. Animals include rats and mice which live underground, insects, birds that nest in the tall trees, slow moving mammals which also live in the trees and a species of carnivorous nocturnal wolf.

In the rest of the space, which should be almost a page, you need to draw a labeled picture of your creature. If you wish, you may just draw arrows from your list of criteria to your picture rather than write it all out again. Give your animal a name and congratulations! You've created a new animal!

  • Have you fulfilled all parts of the task?
  • Have you chosen features which allow the animal to survive in this environment?
  • Have you explained how these features allow it to survive competitively in this environment?
  • Is your diagram or picture neatly presented and labelled?

Alternative Assignment
Keynote: Adaptations of an Australian animal
Slide 1: Title: Name of animal. Picture.
Slide 2: Habitat: Description of where the animal lives, feeds, sleeps.
Slide 3: Habitat 2: Definition of biotic and abiotic factors. Examples of these (pictures and description) in this habitat.
Slide 4: Diet: Describe what the animal eats. Extension: show where the animal fits in its food chain.
Slide 5: Structural Adaptations: Picture of teeth. Explain how the teeth of the animal match its diet.
Slide 6: Structural Adaptations: Picture of skeleton. Label features that help it survive and compete with others in its environment.
Slide 7: Structural Adaptations: How does the skin of the animal help it to survive inits environment (protection, warmth, camouflage)?
Slide 8: Nocturnal / Diurnal: Describe when the animal is most active and why.
Slide 9: Behavioural Adaptations: Explain how the behaviour of the animal helps its survival.
Slide 10: Behavioural adaptations: how does the reproductive strategy of the animal help it improve its survival in its environment?
Slide 11: Physiological adaptations: In what way is the physiology of the animal adapted to its environment?
Slide 12: Conservation status. Why is this animal common / endangered? Relate your answer in terms of its adaptations to its environment.
Slide 13: Bibliography: Identify your 3 best reference sites.

Note to teachers: these two assignments can be the basis of a differentiated task.