Adaptation in a population of living things happens as a result of an adaptive trait. This is any inheritable trait that the animal survive longer, reproduce longer, and have more offspring (that also have that trait). Adaptative traits can improve animals find food, make a safer home, escape predators, survive cold or heat or lack of water.
The saiga antelope has developed a nose with a curious shape. It is swollen and hangs down over its mouth. This is adaptive trait actually has proved quite useful to the saiga. Their large nose allows the extremely cold air that the saiga breathes on the Steppes of Mongolia, to circulate around and warm before being taken into the lungs. This helps them survive in their frigid habitat. Their swollen nose also helps filter out the dust they breath in on their annual migration across the dry plain in summer. Their filtering, air-warming nose is an adaptation that must have helped the saiga survive in their extreme environment.
For Disscussion and Critical Thinking:
The saiga antelope’s adaptive traits helps it survive the freezing temperatures on the Steppes of Mongolia.
1. What other traits might the saiga have to survive the cold?
2. Can you think of other animals that live in very cold environments? Name four and an adaptive trait that helps them survive the cold.
3. Can you think of other animals whose snout-shape might help them survive? Name two and how they use their snout to help with survival.
4. When you are out in the extreme cold, what might you do to help warm the air before you breathe it?
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Activities that Bridge Outdoor Exploration with Classroom Science
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Amsel, Sheri. "Adaptations of the Saiga Antelope" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2021. January 19, 2021
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