Adaptation and the Wildlife Experience

To see the original post from Mrs. Yollis and her class blog...

Wildlife Experience!

Hello Mrs. Yollis and class,

I started out preparing a comment to add to you blog but as it grew I knew it would need to be a post.

From the blog posts I have made, you are probably aware I have a keen interest in animals including their behaviour and adaptations. Something fascinating me is known as convergent evolution. I know it sounds like a pretty hard idea but all it means is different animals develop similar features to do similar things. Here is an example…

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We know some animals can fly. We know about birds and bats. Birds are birds and bats are mammals yet their wings have similarities. This is because their wings have similar functions, i.e. to help them fly. This doesn’t mean birds and bats are closely related. It means they have evolved similar features in order to fly. Birds and bats visit my yard although birds are normally around in the daytime and bats at night.

Go back further in time and you would see flying reptiles soaring through the skies. Again, their wings had similarities to birds and bats.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The human hand

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

gorilla and human skeletons

I can see you have learned about your opposable thumb and how hard it would be if we didn’t have them. We can see opposable or near opposable thumbs in a number of animals but one adaptation interests me and it is found in pandas. Pandas have five fingers and no opposable thumb but, if you see them eating, they appear to hold bamboo with fingers and thumbs. They have an extra-long bone acting like a thumb.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Opossum and the Possum

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Australian Brush-tailed possum

Living in a land with so many marsupials, I was interested in your opossum. Like all marsupials, they are pouched and like many marsupials, they are nocturnal (active at night). Seeing a marsupial in Australia can be pretty easy. I simply go for a hike or look at the sportsground across the road some mornings and can see kangaroos and wallabies.

Pepper Possum is now on the way to you. I hope Pepper arrives before you break for vacation.

Amphibians

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Common green tree frog

The only types of amphibians native to Australia are frogs. We don’t have salamanders. They don’t have pouches to carry their young like marsupials. They tend to start their lives in water as in tadpoles but can live on land although some found ways around this.

Owing to a lack of photos of gastric brooding frogs mentioned below and with an unknown copyright status, click the link below to be taken to an image found on Wikipedia.

Gastric brooding frogs

Australia had two species of gastric (stomach) brooding frogs becoming extinct in about the 1980s (habitat loss, pollution? We don’t know why). Once fertilised, the female would swallow the eggs. The “jelly” around the eggs would switch off acid production in the mother’s stomach and the eggs would develop. Tadpoles would hatch and develop inside the stomach. During this time, the mother didn’t eat. When ready, the mother would regurgitate (throw up) the little frogs. How’s that for an adaptation?

Reptiles

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Red-bellied black snake

Australia is known for its many deadly snakes. In my area, we can find death adders, red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes and tiger snakes. I have seen all but the death adder when hiking.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Go back 25 years to a younger and heavier me and you can see a python friend. I'm the one in the blue shirt and wearing glasses.

We also have pythons that constrict (squeeze) their prey until the prey suffocates. They are different to amphibians in that their eggs have a membrane (layer) to keep water in. They don’t need to return to water to lay eggs.

Teeth

As you found, teeth can give us the idea of an animal’s diet. I have a puzzle for you. Although it isn’t as clean as the skulls in your photos, I have a photo of a skull I picked up while hiking. Its front teeth were missing but look similar to our front teeth,

What kind of animal do you think it is?

What do you think it ate?

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When you have decided, click the link below to find out what animal it is.

I think I know the animal.

Fennec Fox

How cute! On the cuteness scale, the baby fennec must be 10 out of 10. 🙂

Foxes aren’t native to Australia but early European settlers brought red foxes here for fox hunting in the 1800s. Now there is thought to be over 7 million. They do cause problems for many of our small native animals and our national parks have to take action to control their numbers in order to protect native animals.

I have a cuteness long-eared photo for you.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Do you know what it is?

Do you think its large ears are a similar adaptation to the Fennec’s long ears?

Click the link to find out more.

Long Ears

4 thoughts on “Adaptation and the Wildlife Experience

  1. Ella

    Dear Ross Mannell,

    I’m from Miss Jordans class.

    What a long post. It must take a very long time to write these amazing extended blog comments/posts. You are really amazing.

    When I read the post above I learnt a lot of things. Some of the things I learnt were:
    You love animals.
    Foxes aren’t native to Australia.
    The differences and simmalarities between gorilla and human.
    What snakes you can find where you live.
    Pandas have five fingers and no thumb.
    I have learnt lots of other facts from this post too.

    Kind Regards,
    Ella

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Hello Ella,

      Some posts can take a long time to write. It depends on how much I have to research or how much I want to include. There are posts not taking very long to post. The “Adaptation and the Wildlife Experience” post took a number of hours because it not only included much information, it needed me to write posts on another blog so students could find out more information. It can be fun to to explore information and find ways to share it with others. 🙂

      Ross Mannell

      Reply
  2. Emma

    Dear Ross Mannell,

    My name is Emma and I’m from Miss Jordan’s class.

    What a long post! It must have taken you a long time to write it. You must have put a lot of time and effort into it.

    I love animals and think that they are fascinating and incredible. I learnt a lot from you such as:
    you love animals,
    the simalaraties between animals,
    that birds’ and bats’ wings are alike,
    how similar humans and gorillas thumbs are,
    and lots more from your delightful post.

    Where I live, at night sometimes I have two little possums that come and sit on my fence. They come so often I even gave names to them and their names are Ben and Jerry and I think that they are both very cute.

    I am not personally a big fan of snakes and reptiles, but I did find it quite interesting that pythons constrict ( squeeze ) their prey until that suffocate. Here in Australia ( as you said ) we have an enormous amount of deadly snakes. Luckily I haven’t come across any deadly snakes, but in the last few years I have seen two or three small snakes.

    As I said I love animals and I know a fair bit about them, but I would personally like to know more about sloths, pigs, red pandas, wombats and flamingos.

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts,
    Kind regards,
    Emma.

    Reply

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