What is Adaptation?


An adaptation is an evolutionary process of a living species to live in its habitat or habitats and capable to reproduce. As the environment is not a permanent existence, the organisms have to keep adapting to the changing environment. Adaptation is a process which runs parallel to evolution. Today, if we see species like dinosaurs extinct, it is because they could not adapt to the changing environment. As we study evolution, we also notice the various stages man has been through before becoming the modern man. It is all a part of ecological adaptations.

We can see a number of lie examples of adaptations in our day to day life as well. Usually, whenever we go out in the hot sun for a long period of time, we get a tan. This tan is how our skin adapts to the heat and UV radiation from the sun. As the exposure to heat and UV rays increases, the melanocytes present on skin increase the production of melanin. It is a pigment that absorbs the heat and also protects the nucleus, thus protecting the DNA from mutation due to UV rays.

We see a number of adaptations in animals as well. The giraffe that we see today as the tallest animal, wasn’t so tall many years ago. It was the competition with other herbivores for the bushes that lead to increasing the length of the neck in giraffes as they tried to reach for the leaves of taller trees.

Looking for other examples of animal adaptation, the animals found in extremely cold weather have smaller limbs and ears. This provides smaller surface area and hence, the loss of heat is less from the body. Some of the animals also have thick fur or fat around their body to increase the insulation for fighting against the cold weather.

The plants and animals in deserts adapt themselves to minimize water loss from the body. For example, the camel has special storage tanks in their humps which help in storing water. They can survive for days without drinking water as they keep on utilizing the water stored in their body. The desert plants include cactus which has leaves reduced to spine and stem covered with a waxy coat to minimize the loss of water from the plant.

In humans, we see adaptations like an increase in Red Blood Cells count and rate of breathing in higher altitude as the oxygen concentration decreases there.

All the adaptations in animals and plants do not just show physical changes. Some show behavioral changes as well. Some animals hibernate to escape the cold of the winter and some birds migrate to warmer places.

All this adaptation in animals and plants shows how nature balances itself.

We thus learned in brief what adaptation is? For more detailed information, visit Byju’s.

Practise This Question

Statement 1: The photosynthetic function of Opuntia is taken over by the flattened stems.

Statement 2: Opuntia has no leaves – they are reduced to spines.