A Fishy Twist On Adaptations
|Target age or ability group:
||7-10th grades; general biology course.
|Class time required:
||1 to 1-1/2 class periods.|
|Materials and equipment:
||- Large butcher paper or drawing paper, markers/colored pencils, scissors, and tape.|
- Set of teacher-produced body part adaptations.
|Summary of activity:
||"A Fishy Twist on Adaptations" is designed to allow students to think about specific adaptations and how they pertain to the survival of the individual and, ultimately, the species. Students design a fish based on certain criteria (adaptations) and determine the type of habitat which would be best suited for their fish's survival. After drawing the fish and its habitat, students exchange habitats with another group and must first decide and then explain if their fish could survive in the new environment.
|Prior knowledge, concepts or vocabulary necessary to complete activity:
||This works well if used after introducing adaptations and at the beginning of natural selection.
Vocabulary: adaptation, species, natural selection, habitat, niche, descendent
1. Students should be divided into groups of three or four.
2. Each group will need two sheets of drawing paper-a smaller
piece may be used for the fish, a larger piece for the habitat.
3. Each group must randomly choose one of each of four adaptations
for body shape, coloration, mouth and feeding strategy and means
of reproduction. It is helpful to enlarge the adaptation sheet,
photocopy on cardstock and then laminate
and cut out the individual cards from which students may select.
These may then be reused in the future.
4. Allow students to design and draw the fish and its environment
(approximately 30-40 minutes). Students draw, color and cut out
their fish separately from the habitat so that they can exchange
habitats later. When all groups are finished, have each group
share with the class their fish, explaining adaptations and why
the fish is well-suited to the environment.
5. After sharing this information, have the groups randomly exchange
habitats with each other. Each group must then discuss among themselves
and answer questions pertaining to the fate of their fish in its
new habitat. Could it survive and why?
This activity is based on "Fashion-A-Fish" which is
found in Project Wild and published by the Department of
A Fishy Twist On Adaptations
Does the coloration of an animal affect its chances for survival?
Do feeding mechanisms alter an organism's chance of living? How
would an organism's reproductive strategy affect the individual?
How would it affect the species? Throughout time, people have
marveled at the great amount of diversity found in nature. It
is adaptations, however, that have led to this vast array of variation
and which have resulted in the enormous variety among species.
In this activity, you will be studying the effects that an adaptation,
any feature which increases an organism's reproductive success
(fitness) in its environment, has on a fish's success in different
1. Randomly choose one of each type of adaptation for fish-jaw
shape, body shape, coloring and reproductive strategy-before designing
a. List and describe your fish's specific adaptations.
b. In what type of habitat would your fish be best-suited for
survival? (Be specific) Explain your reasons.
2. Using the paper and pencils provided, design, color, and cut
out one fish showing all of the four adaptations.
3. Assign your fish a scientific name and a common name. Write
both in the space below and on your fish.
4. On the larger piece of paper, draw and color the habitat
in which your fish would be well-suited for survival.
5. Place your fish in its habitat and secure gently with tape
6. Explain to the class how your fish is adapted for this particular
7. Trade habitats with another group, keeping the fish you designed.
8. Place your fish in the new environment and reevaluate the
probability of success for your fish.
9. Answer the questions below then turn in both your fish and
its original habitat.
1. How do adaptations increase the likelihood for an animal's
2. List and justify any adaptations which will limit the success
of your fish in its new habitat.
3. List and justify any adaptations which will enhance the
success of your fish in its new habitat.
4. Which adaptation is most important for the survival of the
individual fish? Explain your reasoning.
5. Which adaptation is most important for the survival of your
fish's species? Explain your reasoning.
6. What role do adaptations play in Darwin's Theory of Natural
Selection? (Be specific)
On to Beans and Birds:
A Natural Selection Simulation
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