Maydha Kohli

What's an adaptation?

See the title above? It looks kind of like it's blending in with the background. That's called camouflage, and a lot of animals use it to help disguise themselves from predators. Camouflage is a kind of adaptation.

An adaptation is a change or the process of change that an organism makes in order to help itself survive in its environment. There are three main kinds of adaptations: physiological, anatomical, and behavioral.

Physiological Adaptations

What's a physiological adaptation?

A physiological adaptation is one within the internal organs of an organism. It usually occurs in response to an environmental stimulus. Physiological adaptations help organisms cope with their changing environments.

Fire-Tolerant Organisms

Some organisms have the ability to be fire tolerant. That is, they can survive in the middle of fire. This can work to an organism's advantage. For example, fire-tolerant birds of prey can hunt insects fleeing from a fire. Fire-tolerant plants can stay alive while a fire rages around them (but remember, all plants will eventually burn). One example of a fire-tolerant plant is the Coastal Live Oak, seen here.

Polar Bears

Polar bears are unique with a certain adaptation that they have. Because an Arctic winter is so long, polar bears have adapted by storing vitamin D in their liver during the winter. This way, they do not suffer a vitamin D insufficiency.


Toucans have long bills. While many might believe that this is because their diet requires it, it's actually not the case. Toucans have their large beaks because they serve as radiators.

Wait. What?

A toucan's bill is full of small blood vessels and it's uninsulated. This allows for the beak to be an easy way to dump inner heat. When toucans are flying, during which they can create 10 to 12 times as much heat as they do when they are resting, their beaks can increase temperature by up to 6 degrees Celsius. When they sleep, their body temperature decreases so as to conserve energy, and their beaks heat up. Thanks to this adaptation, birds are able to maintain their body temperature.

Western Cottonmouths

Western Cottonmouths are snakes. They are able to produce venom, a toxin that kills prey easily. This toxin is a kind of adaptation because it is easier for the snake to kill. Instead of attacking prey until the life goes out of it, snakes that can produce venom can simply take one bite and wait for a bit to eat their meal.

Anatomical Adaptations

What's an anatomical adaptation?

An anatomical adaptation is an adaptation in the organism's actual, physical shape. It's an adaptation that you can actually see.


Camels have wide feet. Their desert habitat requires it. If camels didn't have their wide feet, they would constantly be sinking into the sand. With their adaptation, camels can easily walk long distances (and just walk in general).


Lots of animals worldwide use camouflage to help disguise themselves from predators. A great example is the stick insect, which looks like a walking stick. This makes it easy for it to hide from predators, as it lives in the forest.

See other animals below that use camouflage.


Earthworms have anatomical adaptations. One of these is the streamlined body of the earthworm. The streamlined body allows easy movement through the soil that makes up the earthworm's habitat.

Emperor Penguins

Emperor penguins have a short, stubby tail. This helps them because the tail makes it easier to stand on their short, stubby legs. Additionally, a short tail helps minimalize contact with the ice, so heat loss is reduced to the least it can be.

Behavioral Adaptations

What's a behavioral adaptation?

Behavioral adaptations can be inherited or learned.


Auks are penguin-like birds that are excellent at swimming and diving. They can also fly. However, they need to flap their tiny wings very quickly in order to stay in the air. Because of this, they are often easy targets for predators. Auks have adapted to their situation by swarming and staying together so that none of them are left behind. This is an example of a behavioral adaptation.


Earthworms have many adaptations. One of these is a earthworm's reaction to any body that touches it. Earthworms instinctively retract into the ground when anybody or anything touches them. This allows them to ensure their safety, because an earthworm's blind and it doesn't know if you're a bird about to eat it or just an interested human.

Grevy Zebras

Grevy Zebras stay together in herds to protect their young and also themselves. They can have herds of up to 200 zebras. If the zebras stayed in groups of, say, 15, they would be a much easier target for predators such as lions.


Lots of animals, from birds to whales, migrate to other places in order to help themselves survive. This is an adaptation, because animals have learned to survive by changing their home for a few months.