The Future

Animal Adaptations – Unexpected Evolution

There are some animals that have evolved to survive in situations so extreme, or isolated, that the changes they undergo have surprised many researchers. These include:

  1. Cockroaches

Believed to be one of the biggest nuisances and most hated insects in society, cockroaches are also one of the most resilient species in the world. Scientists believe that in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, they could be the only surviving species on Earth. The insects have the ability to live without a head for short periods, go without breathing for 30 minutes, as well as survive without water for two weeks and food for a month. The species has been thriving for the last 300 million years, and are able to survive nuclear blasts of up to 10,000 rads. Science has identified the reason for their longevity, and resilience, as the slower cycling of their cells.

  1. Waterbears

These tiny animals, that live in water, have been found to be capable of surviving any condition. They have been exposed to high radiation, extreme temperatures, extreme pressure, and even trips into space. In all circumstances the animals have come out unscathed. Their survival is due to the ability to enter a dehydrated state, once exposed to an extreme condition, in which they can survive for decades. They ‘come back to life’ by absorbing moisture once the environment becomes more friendly.

  1. Bdelloids

These vertebrae have been found living in areas of freshwater. The species has no males and reproduces asexually, by splitting its genes. This process can be very damaging to their DNA, and the creature balances this by eating the DNA of other species. This diet has given them a heightened ability to withstand dehydration, as well as survive high levels of radiation. Research has shown where they originally adapted to survive extremely dry temperatures.

  1. Bar-Headed Geese

Although bar-headed geese spend most of their time in Asia, they migrate over the Himalayan mountains each year. To survive the high altitude, where the oxygen levels are extremely low, the species blood composition has adapted to store a much larger amount of oxygen than other animals. The geese have been recorded at heights of more than 23,000 ft where there is less than 10% of the oxygen found at sea level.

  1. Golden Jellyfish

Golden jellyfish were cut off from others of their kind millions of years ago. They are now found only in a lake on the island of Eil Malk, Palau. Their isolation caused the jellies to lose most of their sting, and develop a symbiotic relationship with the lake’s algae. The plant lives in their tissues, and is responsible for the jellyfishes predominantly golden colour.  The jellyfish rely on the algae for food, via photosynthesis, and follow the sun’s path across the lake each day to ensure that they receive adequate sunlight.

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