Adaptations that help animals & plants survive

Written by hallie engel
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Adaptations that help animals & plants survive
Creatures like koalas have adapted over generations to survive challenging environments. (koala image by KiWiE from

Not every plant or animal has the luxury of running or growing free in an open field, and many have adapted to survive in tough settings that other organisms could not withstand. Plants and animals take generations to adapt to their environments, changing a little at a time until a distinct feature is developed that allows them to survive extreme temperatures, challenging living environs and other difficulties that might have bested other species.

Desert Plant Features

Surviving in the desert is not easy for plants. Scorching sun, high temperatures and little rainfall make for challenging conditions, but many plants have adapted so that they can thrive. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, desert plants have longer, deeper roots that are different from those of their counterparts that live in moist soil. These lengthy roots allow desert plants access to nutrients and water deep below the earth's surface. To avoid being eaten by animals in search of hydration, desert plants often grow sharp spines to fend of predators. Such plants also grow at a slower rate to conserve energy, and therefore require less nutrients and water.

Adaptations that help animals & plants survive
Many desert plants grow spines to ward off animal predators. (Joshua Tree and the desert image by newberry from

Bears in Trees

Koalas live their entire lives in trees, and their hands and feet have adapted accordingly. The paws of the bears feature a large space between the first and second fingers that allows them to climb and grip trees, and their large toe is placed at a wide angle for similar purposes. The tails of koalas also make good seats, as they contain a thick pad that allows the bears to rest comfortably for hours on end, according to Sea World.

Adaptations that help animals & plants survive
The paws of koalas have adapted to allow them to climb trees easily. (koala image by Sandi Chetwynd from

Amazing Otter Adaptations

Sea otters are rarely out of the ocean, spending their lives in the cold sea. As they do not have blubber like seals do, their fur has adapted to keep them cosy even in freezing waters. The Arctic Studies Center describes how air becomes trapped in their fur, which keeps the otters buoyant and provides insulation, allowing them to endure chilly temperatures comfortably.

Adaptations that help animals & plants survive
The fur of sea otters has adapted to keep them warm in cold oceans. (Otter image by Mat Hayward from

Taking On the Tundra

The tundra is barren, cold and inhospitable to plant life. Nonetheless, various plant species have adapted to survive even in this most desolate of climates. Some tundra plants grow in dark colours, such as red, as it allows them to absorb heat from the sun better than light-coloured plants can. Tundra plants also tend to grow in huddles, sticking together to conserve heat, much as humans do in a survival situation. Other plants are covered in fine hairs that help hold in what little warmth they have, sparing them during cold tundra nights.

Adaptations that help animals & plants survive
Plants have adapted to conserve warmth in the tundra. (tundra image by Brett Bouwer from

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