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Further Investigations: Adaptations

  1. The polar bear is adapted to survive in the arctic. However, scientists have predicted global climate change to have particularly severe effects on the earth’s polar zones. Research the predicted effects of global climate change on the arctic and on polar bear survival. How can each and every one of us help conserve polar bears and their arctic habitat?
  2. Several different vertebrate animal groups have adapted to survive as obligate swimmers. Today, only fishes and cetaceans remain as the extant groups of obligate swimmers in the ocean environment. However, a group of reptiles called the ichthyosaurs once ruled the seas from approximately 245 million years ago (mya) until they went extinct around 90 mya. Compare the swimming adaptations of modern cetaceans and fish to those of ichthyosaurs.
  3. It is a common misconception that dolphins and whales are fish rather than mammals. This misconception likely comes from their similar streamline body forms and swimming fins. Compare the swimming motions of various fish species (e.g., tunas, wrasses, sharks, eels) to those used by odontocete and mysticete cetaceans. In what other ways are fish and cetaceans different?

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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.