Unit 2: Adaptations

Changes Over Time
Adapting to Environments
Animals of California’s Regions
Common Core Standards
• This Unit of Study covers a wide span of
standards from multiple subject areas.
• Within this Unit of Study, your child will be
working on the following standards:
• Writing 2: Write informative/expository texts
• Reading Information 7: Interpret information
presented visually, orally, or quantitatively
• Science: Biomes and Animals
• Social Science: Regions of California
Main Focus: Adaptations
• Unit 2 will be focusing on the overarching theme
of ADAPTATIONS. We will be combining many
Common Core Standards from across various
subjects. Here, we will be connecting Language
Arts, History and Science. We will revisit the
various regions of California and examine the
flora and fauna of the regions.
• We will also learn the difference between
adaptations that are tied to BEHAVIORAL and
PHYSICAL characteristics.
What is an ADAPTATION?
• An ADAPTATION is a change that gives an advantage in
a given situation.
• When one ADAPTS, the ADAPTATION allows for an
organism to better deal in an environment or situation.
• In Nature, an ADAPTATION can help an animal thrive or
• Examples of Animal Adaptations:
• Rhinoceros and their large bulky frame and horn.
• Tigers, leopards and zebras with their striking patterns. These
patterns allow for them to blend into their environments.
• Koalas and Pandas ADAPTING their body systems to ONLY eat
Eucalyptus (Koalas) or Bamboo (Pandas).
More Adaptations
• Physical Adaptations
• Waterproof fur
• Behavioral Adaptations
• Pack/Herd/Colony
(Seals, Otters, & Sea Lions)
• Webbed feet
(Otterhound, Ducks & Sea Birds)
• Light bones
(Wolves, Bison, Wildebeest,
Ants & Bees)
(Birds, Bats, & some small
• Preening & Showcasing
• Claws
(Lizards, Rodents, even
• Horns/Antlers/Tusks
(Antelope, Deer, Walruses &
• Stealth Hunting
(Killer Whales & Sharks)
(Peacocks, Birds of Paradise, &
Elephant Seals)
Physical vs. Behavioral Adaptations
• PHYSICAL Adaptations are changes that occur to an animal or
organism over time. These are changes to its physical form that
help it get an advantage to better thrive or survive.
• Examples:
• Giraffes with their long necks to reach treetop leaves.
• Pandas with their “bamboo thumb” which is a small bony nub that allows for
them to grasp bamboo stalks.
• BEHAVIORAL Adaptations that occur in an animal’s behavior or
repertoire of actions. These are generally learned over time and
the animal passes this behavior to its offspring.
• Examples:
• Killer whales who have learned to knock seals off ice flows.
• Gorillas who have learned sign language to “communicate” with humans.
• Dolphins who have “learned” tricks and stunts to earn a food reward.
Adaptations for the Coastal Regions
The Great White Shark
• The Great White Shark is a
perfect example of animal
• Some adaptations that have
helped this animal survive for
THOUSANDS of years are:
• Streamlined body shape
• Well muscled body for speed and
Temperature regulating liver.
An interior eyelid film that rolls
back to cover the eye.
A free-floating jaw that allows for
a large gaping bite.
Ampuli de Lorenzini that detect
electrical impulses.
Adaptations for the Coastal Regions
California Sea Lion
• California Sea Lions can be
found up and down the
• They are found on the shore,
on small islets and buoys.
• What makes the California Sea
Lion perfectly adapted for the
coastal region?
• Streamlined body shape
• Keen eyesight
• Sharp canine teeth to tear into
• A layer of fat to insulate their
• Water repellant fur coat which
protects them from the cold
coastal water.
Adaptations for the Coastal Regions
Warty Sea Cucumber
• A most unusual sea animal is
the Warty Sea Cucumber. This
invertebrate has adapted itself
for survival on the ocean floor.
• The Warty Sea Cucumber
• A slimy mucus that covers its
A simple digestive system which
processes any and all nutrients
that are inhaled into its body
The ability to expel its intestines
out of its body.
An elastic body structure to help
it travel along the ocean floor.
A slightly toxic chemical that
makes its distasteful to predators.
Adaptations for the Mountain Regions
The Grizzly Bear
• This APEX predator was
not born ready to rule the
wild. Eons have perfected
this animal into the
ultimate hunter.
• Grizzly Bears are the top
because of the following:
• Large muscular body
• Protective fur & layers of fat
• Keen sense of smell
• 3 to 5 inch razor sharp claws
• A crushing bite
Adaptations for the Mountain Regions
The Spotted Owl
• Who’s sitting in the trees?
The Spotted Owl.
• This silent flier swoops through
the Mountain woods to scoop up
a variety of prey.
• What adaptations make this bird
perfect for the mountain region?
A mottled feathered coat
Large wing span to silently glide
180 degree plus rotating head/neck
Keen eyesight
Grasping talons
A powerful beak which can snap
through bone
Adaptations for the Mountain Regions
The Mountain Lion
• Hello Kitty! This Mountain Lion
is not a cute little house cat.
This Mountain hunter silently
stalks its prey and pounces for
the final attack.
• How has it managed this? With
the following adaptations.
• A sandy colored coat to blend into
the rocky terrain.
Keen vision
Acute sense of smell
(It’s whiskers help direct scents to
its nostrils.
Razor sharp claws
Sharp canine teeth and a crushing
Adaptations for the Central Valley Region
The Gopher
• Gophers pop up in valleys and
• These animals have adapted
quite well to survive in valleys,
prairies, and hillsides.
• Gophers have adapted from
ground and air predators by:
• Having a keen sense of smell.
• Long claws on their feet which
helps them to burrow and dig
through the soil.
• Sharp fast growing teeth which
can be used to help them chew
through roots and other plant
• Twitch muscles which allow for
them to respond quickly to
Adaptations for the Central Valley Region
The Green Toad
• The Green Toad is a native
amphibian of California. They
inhabit the marshes, streams
and waterways in the Central
• How have these toads adapted
to survive:
• Powerful hind legs for jumping
and leaping to safety.
• Moist, almost slimy skin to help
them survive the temperature and
season shifts in the valley.
• Ability to “croak” which allows for
them to communicate amongst
each other.
• Green Toads also lay huge egg
sacs to ensure a large amount of
offspring have the chance of
continuing their survival.
Adaptations for the Central Valley Region
San Joaquin Kit Fox
• A wily animal of California’s
regions is the Kit Fox. This
small predator feeds on small
mammals and birds.
• What gives it an advantage in
the wild?
• A sandy coat which allows it to
camouflage into the brush and
rocky terrain.
• Large upright ears which allows
for it to have keen hearing.
• Sharp vision to spy quick
moving prey.
• A lean well muscled body
which gives its speed and
Adaptations for the Desert Region
The Rosy Boa
• The dry desert heat creates a
hostile environment for many
creatures. It is NOT the best place
to visit.
• The Rosy Boa slithers about the
desert floor in search of a variety of
small rodents, lizards and birds.
• How can this snake endure this
brutal region?
• Snakes are cold blooded and thrive in
the warm weather.
• Snakes have thermal pits which help
them sense the contrasting
temperatures of animals against the
desert floor.
• Snakes are ALL muscle. Their bodies
allow for them to travel across the hot
desert and squeeze or “constrict” their
victims to death.
• Snakes have an adaptation where their
jaws are split which allows them to
ingest prey two to three times their
body’s diameter.
Adaptations for the Desert Region
The Cactus Wren
• Moving from the Desert floor, we
spy in a cactus a little brown wren.
• The Cactus Wren is a well
adapted bird to survive in the
California desert.
• How has this swift little bird
change to better endure its
• Small in size compared to other
• Stilt-like legs which allow for it to
stand above the prickly needles of
the cacti where it builds a home.
• A sharp narrow beak which is used
to bore out a hole in the waxy and
thick cactus plant’s walls.
• Lightweight skeleton which allows for
it to be fast and maneuverable.
Adaptations for the Desert Region
The Roadrunner
• Darting around the Desert floor is
the Roadrunner. This fleet footed
bird doesn’t fly, it RUNS.
• What changes made it the
speedster of the desert.
• Keen eyesight. This helps them spy
prey along the desert floor.
• Powerful leg muscles which power
this bird’s quickness.
• A set of long tail feathers which give
the roadrunner balance while
• Quick reflexes which help it to evade
dangerous prey.
(Roadrunners are known to hunt
snakes. They can dodge snake
strikes with their swiftness and

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