How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions

(ORDO NEWS) — Adaptation to new conditions for survival is the kind of natural “sport” in which humanity owns an eternal gold medal.

But we are still not the only animals that have learned to survive in difficult conditions and adapt to atypical circumstances. Let’s look at how animals adapt to the world around them.

Basically, adaptation systems in one way or another relate to the cold, which is quite logical – if you manage to survive in a deep minus, the rest of the dangers will not be so terrible.

The same, by the way, applies to extremely high temperatures. Who is able to adapt, most likely will not disappear anywhere. Consider how animals have adapted to cold climates.

Arctic hare

Arctic hare are the largest hares in North America, which, for some reason, have relatively short ears. This is a great example of what an animal can sacrifice to survive in harsh conditions – while long ears can help hear a predator, short ones reduce the release of precious heat, which is much more important for Arctic hare.

If we talk about physiological or structural adaptations, then thick fur is in the first place. This is a stunning gift from nature to arctic hares.

This thick fur helps them keep their body warm, as well as protect them from cold and strong air currents. Their paws help them run quickly across the top surface of the snow without sinking into it, and the white color of their fur also helps them survive through camouflage.

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 2Another behavioral adaptation is that in winter, mostly hares tend to move and live in groups. This helps them especially deal with the surrounding airflow

Some behavioral things also help to adapt to harsh environments. Their posture and orientation help them to minimize their exposed body surface area as much as possible.

In the same way, during feeding and resting, they orient their body in such a way that the main air currents fall on their backs. Both of these behavioral modifications help them keep their body warm.

Frog Rana sylvatica

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 3Rana sylvatica frogs have rather unusual adaptations to cold climates

Frogs from Alaska of the species Rana sylvatica, perhaps even outdid the Antarctic fish. They literally freeze into the ice in winter, thus waiting out the cold season, and come back to life in the spring.

Such a “cryosleep” is possible for them due to the special structure of the liver, which doubles during hibernation, and the complex biochemistry of blood. It is thanks to the unique functioning of the body that Rana sylvatica frogs adapt perfectly in the cold.

Praying mantises

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 4Not all types of praying mantises adapt to winter. Humidity plays a very important role. It is difficult to say what exactly it should be, but the praying mantis will die instantly from dryness, as well as from any hint of mold

Some praying mantis species, unable to spend all day in the sun, cope with the lack of heat through chemical reactions in their own bodies, concentrating flashes of heat inside for short-term heating.

To adapt to the cold, the mantis lays diapausing eggs. They are protected from environmental influences and resistant to low temperatures. Laying begins in summer and continues until late autumn. Eggs emerge from the ovipositor of the female and a sticky liquid is released, which creates a kind of protective capsule.


How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 5

Cysts adapt to cold quite tolerably. They withstand temperatures down to -21 degrees for 100 days, and in water and soil they retain signs of life for 2–3 months, so that they can wake up if the opportunity arises.

A cyst is a temporary form of existence of bacteria and many unicellular organisms, in which the body surrounds itself with a dense protective shell in order to protect itself from an aggressive external environment.

This barrier is very effective – in some cases it can help the host to adapt to the environment and survive for a couple of decades.

Nototheniform fish

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 6This species is predominantly bottom and demersal marine fish, but some of them have secondarily adapted to the pelagic habitat, using the rich food resources of open ocean waters

Nototheniform fish live in Antarctic waters so cold that normal fish would freeze to death there. Sea water freezes only at a temperature of -2 ° C, which cannot be said about completely fresh blood.

But Antarctic fish secrete a natural antifreeze protein that prevents ice crystals from forming in the blood – thanks to this, nototheniform fish have adapted to the aquatic habitat.


How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 7 1

Of course, many species of turtles are helped to adapt to the cold by the structure of the body, paws, as well as their ability to hibernate underground during harsh periods. However, Megatheria has differences from other species.

Megatheria adapts to harsh environments by generating heat using body mass, thus surviving in cold environments even without antifreeze in the blood. This is used by some sea turtles, remaining mobile when the water around them almost freezes.

Asian mountain geese

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 8Asian geese are quite unpretentious to harsh conditions. Their resistance to cold allows them to adapt to cold climates

Asian mountain geese, when crossing the Himalayas, rise to great heights. The highest flight of these birds was recorded at an altitude of 10 thousand meters! Geese have complete control over their body temperature, even changing their blood chemistry as needed to adapt to the harsh conditions of icy, thin air.


How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 9Jumpers prefer shallow coastal areas, and places where fresh water mixes with salt. And these fish also love muddy puddles in the thicket of tropical forests. For this reason, the first part of the name, muddy, was assigned to the fish. Their habitat perfectly allows them to adapt to the aquatic habitat

Mudskippers are not the most common type of fish, although they belong to rather banal gobies. At low tide, they crawl along the silt, getting their own food, climbing trees on occasion.

In their way of life, mudskippers are much closer to amphibians, and only fins with gills give out fish in them. This species mainly lives in silt, which in turn creates good conditions for the adaptation of fish in the environment.

Microbacteria in “black smokers”

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 10Many creatures live in “black smokers”, and they all adapt perfectly to living conditions. So, for example, at a distance from the mouth of a smoker, where the temperature drops below 40 degrees, plexuses of white tubes of giant (up to 2.5 m) worms with bright scarlet tentacles are visible

The ecosystem of “black smokers” – hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the oceans – cannot but amaze. The water there is saturated with hydrogen sulfide and toxic substances, but life is seething in it like hundreds of millions of years ago.

Bacteria that break down sulfur live there, small tubes with tentacles – vestimentifera, which entered into symbiosis with them, mollusks and worms, crabs, octopuses and fish. In such conditions, organisms feel great, because these are ideal conditions for their adaptation to the outside world.

Parrots in Nicaragua

How Animals Adapt to Harsh Conditions 11The soldier’s macaw is one species that has adapted perfectly to the climate in Nicaragua

One of the species of parrots in Nicaragua is so settled in the vicinity of the active Masaya volcano (the last eruption was in 2008) that it builds nests right in its crater.

However, how did such a habitat allow parrots to adapt? It is not known how poisonous conditions do not kill desperate birds, but such tactics as a defense against predators work with a bang.


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