Did you know a star fish isn't actually a fish? How about this: a Goliath beetle can move over 800 times its own weight. Or this: chameleons change color by restricting blood flow to their skin. These are only a few of the unique animal adaptations found in nature we've included in this guide.
Animals are as varied as the environments in which they are found. The adaptations that some of these creatures have made to adjust to their extreme environments border on science fiction. Even some of the most common animals have made amazing adaptations you might not be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of them starting with the wild world of insects.
It might shock you to find out that the most diverse type of insect in the world isn’t the spider but rather the beetle. The beetle is nature’s garbage man and takes the waste of other creatures and recycles it. So for every environment there is a beetle, and we cover a couple of them here. However, beetles don’t have the market cornered on unique adaptations; there are insects like the cockroach that are able to withstand some of the most toxic environments on Earth and can even live without a head!
Insects of all shapes and sizes have adapted to environments ranging from underground to the crotches of trees to the urban sprawl of manmade tenements. Pay special attention to the honey bee and the black widow spider because although they are well-known some of their unique traits are not.
Are insects just not your thing? That’s all right because we have plenty of crazy creatures for you to check out starting with the most toxic creature in the sea: the box jellyfish. This critter looks like something from a different planet and possess a space age venom delivery system.
How about the starfish (which isn’t a fish at all) or the recently maligned Asian Carp? They may be from different ends of the spectrum but both have an amazing ability to thrive in a multitude of environments.
While you may know a lot about the Great White Shark, some of the things you think you know may just be modern-day urban legends. Check your knowledge with the fun facts page.
Just because marine life crept up onto land millions of years ago doesn’t mean it stopped making adaptations. We cover land animals from rabbits all the way up to camels and bison because each one has a unique trait that has helped it survive, and in most cases thrive, in its chosen habitat. Of particular interest is the Polar bear, which has a couple of adaptations that you rarely hear about but that it would be dead without.
Also included in this section is the outcast of the animal world, which is the duckbill platypus. Its unique synthesis of egg laying and poison make it one of the weirdest creatures to be found to date. While it isn’t nearly as smart as the African Grey parrot, it does do some pretty impressive things (it’s not a secret agent or anything but some of its tricks are impressive nonetheless).
Reptiles aren’t usually at the top of the list when people start to talk about adaptation. This is mostly because the larger ones have remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of adapting but rather that they adapted so well to their environments (and their environments haven’t changed in so long) that they are at the top of their respective food chain. Until another creature dethrones a large reptile at the top of the food chain, it will continue doing what it and its ancestors have done for centuries.
While this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as animal adaptations go, it should give you a good idea of the sheer degree of difference from one environment to another. Hopefully it will push you to pursue questions like this more readily.
Share Your Thoughts
We hope you learned something and would love to answer any questions you might have as well as hear your comments on these magnificent creatures. If there is a particular animal you think deserves to be featured here that isn’t, drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do about fixing that.