You are What You Need

April 21, 2000

A report about species adaptation by Jesse

 

Within species, individuals are born with certain mutations. These mutations act like feelers for adaptation. If that mutated characteristic suits the animal's food and environment better, It will become more frequent over time, until it becomes the dominant characteristic. The animal changes to meet its needs simply by living in its natural environment and giving in to the forces of nature. Those forces involve the food chain, natural selection, and survival between predator and prey. In that sense, you are what you need.

Food Chain

The food chain is the continues transfer of energy between animals by feeding. A food chain could go something like this; Plants are eaten by the herbivores, which are eaten by carnivores, which are eaten by bigger carnivores. When the bigger carnivore dies, decomposers release it's energy and minerals into the ground, where plants eat them and the cycle starts again. It's one big cycle that changes little. However, since some amount of energy is lost at each transfer, a root that was consumed three years previous would most likely not be part of the current energy flow. Decomposers like bacteria and fungi rot dead bodies and plants, breaking them into simple raw materials and other substances that are released into the soil. These are then absorbed by plants as food. It is within the Food Chain Environment that the basis of what all species are and need to be is decided.

Natural Selection

The theory of Natural Selection was put forth by Charles Darwin. Natural Selection is the idea that since parents pass on their characteristics to their children, the individuals better suited to their eco-system would become more dominant in that area, for they would have a better chance to survive and pass on those helpful characteristics. An Example of this would be white and brown mice in a dark, grassy environment. Obviously, a hunting owl would have an easier time getting the white mice, so the population would drop because the white mice don't fare well in that environment. Now, lets have the same example, but this time a snowy winter landscape. Now, the white mice have camouflage, and the brown mice will have a much less likely chance to survive to pass down their characteristics. This means that the brown mouse population would fall, and because of less breeding, not rise again.

Directional Selection is the adapting of one environment after it has changed. Often, this change is caused by humans. When colors and patterns of a beings environment change, that type of being will also begin to change over time to adapt because certain beings within that type will suit the new environment better, thus increasing their chance of passing on those characteristics. An example of this is when pollution from coal in old english towns would turn the trees black. Eventually, the moths that lived on those trees became darker, adapting to their new environment.

Changes in food sources will also trigger adaptations. Since the food source will determine a bird's beak shape and size, it will change if the food source does. If the original bird was a bug-eater with a long pointy beak, and it ran out of bugs to eat, it would be forced to eat seeds or fruits. At first, the species would have a hard time because their beak wasn't the right shape, but over generations, the majority of that type of bird would have a beak better suited for the job. The original beak of that species of bird will have changed over time to adapt to its environment. The changes will be accepted because of their better ability to consume the new food source. Eventually, the new beak will become the dominate beak of the species because the bird will have an easier time getting food, increasing it's chance for survival, and with some species increasing the amount of offspring being born. The original beak will eventually fade away from existence, dying from starvation.

Physical Differences

Physical Differences Between Herbivore and Carnivore

Since Herbivores and Carnivores have different eating habits, it would be assumed that there would be differences in certain parts of the body. The teeth and the jaw of both types are different. Herbivores have flat, rigid teeth because plants contain a lot fibrous material that need to be chewed a lot before swallowing. Carnivores have large, pointy canines in front to seize and kill their prey, and carnassials in back to tear and shred. Humans are omnivores and have both sets of teeth, but differences are not as pronounced. Jaw movements also differ between herbivore and carnivore. Herbivore jaws move in circles to grind the food, while carnivore jaws go up and down to slice the food.

Physical Differences Between Predator and Prey

(Ex. Cat and mouse)

The cat (Predator) has forward pointing eyes to help judge distances, while the mouse has eyes at the side of it's head to let it see all around itself. The cat also has soft padded feet so that he can move quietly and claws so that it can capture its prey. The mouse has large eyes that let it see in dark places and sensitive ears to help it detect approaching animals. Both have forms of coloring, the predator so to not be noticed by the prey while it prepares to strike, and the prey, to hide from the predator.

Special tools for special needs

Some animals need special tools or parts to live in their environment. An example would be the anteater, which uses its long snout and tongue to slurp up ants in their mounds. Some members of the genus Homo can use tools. An example of that would be a stick used to scoop up termites. While the anteater had a natural ability, a stick was used when what the animal was born with just couldn't cut it.

Through "mutation feelers", the best adaptations can be made into the norm for our separate species. It is through Natural Selection, Physical Differences, and the Environmental Food Chain that all species develop their particular characteristics. In relating to our environment and fellow species on earth, we develop the characteristics needed for our survival. So, just remember, you are what you need.

 

Copyright, 2000, All rights reserved


First Upload: April 2000
Last Update: July 7, 2001