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Adaptation: Definition, Types & Example


Adaptation is a mutation or change which helps animals and plants, survive in their environment. Due to beneficial nature of that mutation, it is passed down to the next generations. As organisms keep on inheriting the trait, it becomes an integral part of the species and is called an adaptation.

Every organism lives in a unique environment which fulfills all its basic needs like water, food, shelter and a place to breed. All organisms are well adapted to the environment in which they live. The environment of an animal consists of many different things; it can be cold or hot, dry or wet, the number of plants it grows and other animals living in it which maybe predators or competitors. The type of environment affects all the organisms living in it. Only those organisms will survive which will adapt to the changing environment and others will die out. Soon the species will contain only those organisms which are adapted to the new environment.

With the rapidly increasing population and human activities which can disturb the natural habitat, animals must learn to adapt to survive in the new kinds of threats posed to them by man. Animals can only live in that environment to which they are adapted.

Types of Adaptations

Adaptation can be anatomical, behavioral or physiological. Anatomical adaptations are the physical adaptations developed by an animal such as its shape or size. Behavioral adaptations can be learned or inherited such as language, tool use etc. Physiological adaptation may include the ability to store more fat against cold extremes and production of venom etc.


Animals camouflage to adapt to the new/changing environment. Camouflage is the type of behavioral adaptation and it helps animals to protect themselves from the predators. Many birds and insects hide in the tall grass and trees, weeds or the bark of trees etc. so they cannot be seen by the predators.


Some animals, like Apple snail can live in many different kinds of ecosystems viz., ditches, swamps, ponds and rivers. It has a combination of lungs/gills which shows it adaptation to the oxygen poor habitats.


In the very cold climates such as in Alaska, animals have learnt to survive by storing more fat in their bodies and developing thick furs.

Examples of Basic Adaptations that Help Animals Survive

Here are some of the examples of basic adaptations which help animals survive in their environments.

  • Shape of the body
  • Shape of the bird’s beak
  • Thickness of fur
  • Shape of ears or nose
  • Color of the fur
  • Number of fingers
  • Position of the eyes
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