Adaptation is a process of nature in which an organisim becomes better suited to it’s habitat. Adaptations can be found throughout nature. In vertebrate species, these adaptations often affect the skeletal system. One obvious example of skeletal adaptation can be found in locomotion. This exhibit features several different types of locomotion found in the animal kingdom.
Aerial locomotion is the act of flying. Skeletal adaptations aid in aerial locomotion by providing modified limb bones to form a wing as well as allow for muscle attachment. In bats, the only mammals capable of true flight, elongated arm and finger bones, combined with modified skin, form wings allowing them to fly.
Arboreal locomotion refers to species that live in and move through trees. These animals often possess physical adaptations that aid in this movement. These adaptations may include long limbs, prehensile tail, and claws. Animals that exhibit arboreal locomotion include squirrels, sloths, and monkeys.
Aquatic locomotion, as well as semi-aquatic locomotion, describes an animal’s movement in the water. Many species that live in the water possess aquatic locomotion to aid in their survival. Limbs modified into flippers are one of the most common skeletal adaptations found in aquatic species. Some animals exhibiting aquatic locomotion include dolphins, sea turtles, and penguins.
Most terrestrial animals move about using cursorial locomotion. This form of locomotion primarily refers to running. Many species exhibiting this type of movement have developed skeletal adaptations such as longer limbs, the reduction of toes, modification of the feet and development of hooves. Some cursorial species are dogs, cats, horses, and gazelles.
Fossorial, as well as semi-fossorial, locomotion refers to the modified movement of animals that dig and live underground. These species often have modified limbs to aid in digging, as well as, compact bodies and rudimentary eyes. Some fossorial species include gophers, moles, and mole rats.
Animals that use hopping or jumping to move possess saltatorial locomotion. Species utilizing this form of locomotion have evolved large, muscular hind limbs and often have reduced forelimbs. Some species that progress by saltatorial locomotion include rabbits, hares, and kangaroos.