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Animal and Plant Adaptations

Horses have specialized adaptations that cater to the wide open spaces and the mass expanse of grass that horses prefer to have around them. Though often associated with stables for living space and oats for food, horses prefer a very specific type of environment based on how they evolved. The ancestors of the today’s horses once were much smaller animals that lived in forests and that later had to adapt to the change that occurred seven to 25 million years ago: the forests transformed into grasslands. As a results, horses became taller with longer legs and necks in order to survive and adapt to this new environment. Horses developed single hooves instead of toes to be able to run faster in their new habitat. As there weren’t much space to run in the forest of their ancestors.

Horses became best suited for open, grass-covered terrain so that they could spend almost 20 hours a day as nomadic grazers, as can be seen by the flat teeth horses have that are best suited for grinding down grass. Horses live in herds in the wild, with approximately a dozen horses in each group that include a stallion, some mares and some young horses. Even stallions without mares of their own will form herds, called bachelor bands. Since horses defend themselves in the wild by running away from predators, horses prefer to live in areas that are widely open. Even domesticated horses will avoid spaces that are mostly closed in and choose shelters that only have one wall or a roof. When feed is available, horses eat constantly to build up weight. This is good in the wild where winter and droughts can mean a lack of food sources during parts of the year. As a result, horses are able to stand gaining and losing weight rapidly and ultimately starvation.

Allow them to hooves are a hard surface that horses to walk on both hard and soft surfaces. They are sturdy and designed to allow the horse to move quickly and escape predators. Horses have a poor eyesight and rely on their good hearing to detect predators before they can attack them. If they sense that a predator is in the area they can be alert and ready to run away. Horse’s tails are used for balance and for swatting insects that could bite the horse. This unique adaptation helps them get rid of pests and ultimately prevent disease that could be transmitted by the insects. The baobab tree is the landmark tree of the African Sahara (apart from the iconic sand dunes). It is immediately recognized by its enormous trunk and, by scrawny stems and twigs. In a land where rainfall is limited and it is rare to find even tiny bushes, the gigantic baobab tree thrives. It is able to do so due to a number of unique adaptations that it has perfected over the course of its evolution.

Besides it height and girth, the baobab is also distinct due to its shiny and slick outer bark. This unique adaptation allows the baobab tree to reflect light and heat, keeping it cool in the intense savanna sun. The slippery skin is also useful in keeping monkeys, elephants and other small herbivores from climbing it and eating its tender leaves and flowers. It is also believed that the reflective nature of the bark may aid in protecting the tree from the effects of wildfires. The baobab tree also has a spongy bark which allows the baobab tree conserve water. The bark of the baobab is more porous than regular wood, making it able to absorb moisture like a sponge. This allows the tree to absorb as much water as possible in times of rain and store it for use during times of scarcity or drought. The baobab tree blooms pretty white flowers. However, get too close and you are in for a nasty surprise — the flowers emit a stinky smell, a smell that closely resembles rotting meat. This unique adaptation helps the baobab to reproduce effectively by attracting its main pollinator, the fruit bat. Flies, ants and moths also find the carrion-like smell of the baobab attractive. All of these creatures help to spread the pollen of the baobab from tree to tree, allowing it to spread quickly throughout the African savanna.

The baobab tree has adapted its stems to catch every bit of water it can, from morning dew to summer downpours. Its stems form “u” like funnels, allowing water to channel into holding canals so the plant has time to soak it all in over the course of a day. Insects, birds and humans find this adaptation useful as well, especially when water is scarce.

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