Designed For Survival! Create An Imaginary Creature
By Anthea Hudson
In this activity, young environmentalists think about what environmental problems living creatures on Earth are currently facing, as well as what further impacts there may be in the future, if things don't change for the better. They then design and build a creature which possesses features which will best allow it to survive these challenges.
Start by doing some research and making a list of the various environmental problems and disasters that are occurring in the world. Also how might they worsen, or new problems occur, in time if we do nothing to resolve them?
Some things to consider:
- Oil spills
- Deforestation and destruction of natural habitats
- Polluted waterways and oceans
- Chemicals from agriculture and factory farms
- Depletion of ozone layer- cancers?
- Global warming- melting ice caps and rising sea level, temperature and rainfall changes
- Increase in natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, fires, cyclones
- Radiation from nuclear disaster- mutations and deaths
- Increase in feral animal and plant populations and disruption of balance
- Exploding human populations and their increasing need for resources
What other impacts can you think of?
Now have a think about how these things are actually affecting mammals, birds, insects and sea animals.
Choose a specific kind of creature to base your imaginary creature on. Then develop new protective body systems and behaviours that might be needed to enable your creature to survive.
Here are some things to think about as you design your creature:
- What level is your creature going to find best suited to its survival?
Ground level? Scrub, low bushes? Trees? Water? Underground? Sky?
- Where will it raise its young for the best chance of making it to adulthood?
Pouch? Nest? Hollow trees? Burrows?
- What kind of babies might survive best?
Live births or those that start out as eggs?
- Who will look after the babies? How long will the babies remain reliant on their parents?
- What do the babies look like when they are young and how might this affect their survival?
- What kind of survival protection does your creature use?
Strong claws or teeth? Is it venomous or have an unpleasant odour? Camouflage?
Is it very fast, or able to fly away?
Is it nocturnal or maybe hiding mostly in hollow logs or underground?
- How might colour help or hinder its survival?
- What kind and amounts of water and food does it need? How might it conserve water or food, so that it doesn't need as much if it is scarce?
- What adaptations help it survive intense temperature variations and the potentially damaging effects of the sun?
- How does it protect itself from radiation? Chemical contamination?
- How will it adapt to the destruction of its ideal environment?
- What might help it survive various natural disasters?
Photo by Adamfula
Make various sketches and notes about your creature.
Then start creating! Try to make your creature by recycling as many materials as you can, and not using too many new materials.
Create a Diorama showing the type of environmental challenges your creature has been designed to deal with.
How comfortable do you think it would be for your creature to have to have the adaptations you have given it? Would it make other things in life harder, such as ease of movement and what it can eat, or do? Even with its adaptations, would this degraded environment be very easy to thrive in? What challenges might your creature still face?
Of course, creatures simply cannot evolve and develop protective structures and mechanisms fast enough to adapt to the way humans are rapidly changing their environments. Nor should they have to. Human creatures do not have the right to destroy the diversity on this planet.
Rather than change living creatures to suit a degraded environment, we need to STOP, and reverse, that degradation, so that all living things can once again thrive on the Earth.
What are YOU going to do towards making that a reality???