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Animals Extraordinaire

In this demonstration, students explore some of the planet's most impressive and unique animals!

Every living organism is uniquely specialized for the environment in which it lives, and for life it leads. We often think of animals with simple traits as being less complex, but simple-looking animals have evolved features that enable them to succeed in their particular environment. Pill bugs, for example, can be found in almost every type of environment on Earth, including the Arctic. Each species of pill bug has developed features to survive in these vastly different environments. Pill bugs have been around for several millions of years, outpacing humans by far!

Special characteristics that enable plants and animals to survive in their surroundings may be used for:

  • defence
  • feeding and drinking water
  • reproduction
  • weather protection

Objectives

  • Compare and contrast the features of a variety of animals.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    computer with internet connection
    computer speakers
    LCD projector connected to the computer, or large screen.
    screen/wall to project the video

Key Questions

  • Which specialization was your favourite? Why?
  • What may be a disadvantage to a certain specialization (when their habitat is threatened or prey disappear can they move to/survive in a new place)?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Hook up the computer to the computer speakers and to the LCD projector. Lower the screen on which the videos will be projected, if using a screen.
  2. Test to ensure Internet connectivity.
  3. Test to ensure that there are no broken links in the list below.

Demonstration

  1. Introduce the animal and its special feature.
  2. Click on the link in this document to access the feature.
  3. Show the class the video of the animal’s feature in action. Ask the students to write the name of the animal, the special feature they see, and a description of how that animal uses that special feature.

Owls
Many owls have unequal or asymmetrical ears (i.e. the left ear hole is higher than right ear hole). This gives owls the ability to hunt in complete darkness as they are able to pinpoint exactly where their prey is.
You Tube | BBC Wildlife | Sophisticated Sonar of Wild Owls Hunting in the arctic forest

Hagfish
Hagfish can secrete a substance that reacts with salt water to form thick, gel-like mucus. This mucus is so thick that it suffocates the hagfish’s predator. To escape from its own mucus trap, the hagfish ties itself in a knot and removes all the mucus by sliding the knot down the length of its entire body!
Creature Cast | Hagfish | The Art of Knotting

Bird of Paradise
This bird of paradise has a very elaborate mate attraction regime!
You Tube | BlackTree TV | The Mating Dance — A Must See!

Feather Stars
Feather stars are amazing sea creatures that are related to sea stars and sea urchins and have an interesting way of moving about.
You Tube | Frankhau | Feather Star

Flying Fish
Can you think of an animal that spends most of its time underwater but can also fly? Flying fish are fascinating creatures that can swim and fly!
You Tube | Life — Flying Fish

Deep Ocean Animals
We have only explored a tiny fraction of the ocean floor. What kinds of conditions exist at the bottom of the ocean?
You Tube | BBC Wildlife | Blue Planet | Fangtooth in the Abyss

 

Extensions

  • Research more videos of amazing animals doing amazing things with their specializations! Choose one and present it to the rest of the class.
  • Show students pictures of unique animals in their environments. Ask them to speculate on the function behind unique features.