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4.5.3.1. Adaptation of organisms

The adaptation of organisms

Adaptation is called any characteristic that gives an organism an advantage that improves its chances of survival and reproduction in a given environment. If environmental conditions change, living things will have to change to adapt, survive and reproduce. If the change of conditions is very abrupt, the species cannot adapt and become extinct.

The main types of accommodations are:

Anatomical adaptations

As anatomical adaptations those changes are included in the external structure of the body which allows:

  • Camouflaging yourself in the environment. Adaptation that allows you to imitate shapes. For example, the chameleon or the stick insect.
  • Imitate colors and shapes of dangerous animals.
  • Have structures that allow you to adapt to the environment. For example, the beak of some birds adapted to their diet, or the adaptation to flight, which has allowed some organisms to colonize the air environment using their wings to move.

Interactive activity: Adaptations of bird beaks.

Physiological adaptations

The physiological adaptations are what make that organisms change the physiology of their bodies, organs or tissues. They suppose a change in the functioning of the organism that allow it to solve a problem that appears in the environment.

Sometimes, physiological adaptation is linked to other morphological adaptations that alter internal behavior (hormones, osmoregulation, etc.) to adapt to the environment.

Some of the most important physiological adaptations are:

  • Adaptations to temperature. Animals that live in cold climates have mechanisms that allow them to live at low temperatures.
    • The endotherms animals (mammals and birds) have fur and feathers that keep them the warmth of the body and accumulate fat for energy when needed.
    • The blooded species, as controlling its internal temperature, take shelter in a safe place to slow vital activity to the maximum, in a state of dormancy.
  • Adaptation to the amount of light. Normally organisms adapt to the lack of light or atrophy their organs by not needing them, or making them more sensitive to light. Some organisms have adapted to live in the dark, such as nocturnal birds which, with large eyes and highly developed hearing, can hunt their prey. Others, like moles, have developed touch and hearing from not being able to use their sight.
  • Adaptation to locomotion. Organisms adapt to water, land or air locomotion.

Behavioral or ethological adaptations

The behavioral adaptations involve changes in the behavior of the organism to defend themselves from predators, find food, reproduce, migrate elsewhere with more favorable conditions, etc.

Adaptation to daytime or nightlife also requires behavioral adaptations to hunt differently.

Curiosity: The mimic octopus or mimic octopus or mimetic octopus

The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is a cephalopod mollusk capable of imitating the shape and movements of at least fifteen dangerous animals for the predator that is seeing it as its future food. Thus he manages to deceive the predator and will have to find another prey.