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Ostrich

ostrich.jpg
'Ostrich head'


Intro
The Struthio camelus, also known as the Ostrich is the largest and heaviest bird that is still living. Although it has wings, it cannot fly, but it has strong legs that helps it to run very fast, compensating for its not as useful wing. The adaptations that help the Ostrich to survive in the modern world is going to be investigated in this report.

Scientific Classification
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Subphylum
Vertebrata
Class
Aves
Superorder
Paleognathae
Order
Struthioniformes
family
Struthionidae
Genus
Struthio
Species
S. camelus

Habitat
The habitat is very important to an animal, it determines whether the animal will have physical features like thick hair and wings. The Ostrich is no different from other animals, and its features are also developed for them to help them fit into their living environment. The living environemnt is closely examined in the following paragraphs. The Ostriches are most commonly found in Savanna and desert areas in Africa and but be adapted to a vast amount of habitats.

800px-Ostrich_SA2.jpg
'South Africa where Ostriches live'

(Appetite related to habitat)
Ostriches are believed to be herbivores. They are grazing animals which mean they can eat a lot of food that other animals cannot eat. They eat around 5-6kg of plants every day, mainly consisting of eat seeds, shrubs, grass, fruits and flowers. When they see small animals like lizards, locusts and termites, they will also eat it, but because they have no teeth to swallow any food they consume, they eat stones to help crush the food into smaller pieces. Ostriches do not drink a lot of water as they absorb moisture from plants, but if water is available to them, they will use it. The biggest predator to ostriches are animals like cheetahs that live in savannas, but would also be threatened if spotted by lions and similar animals. Africa provides the best location for ostriches to live naturally and catch their prey easily.

Example of habitat and Climate
Ostriches can be adapted to a really wide range of habitats as they can stand a vast range of temperatures. They live in places that can have a temperature difference of 40 degrees every night and day. Ostriches preferably live in grassy and flat areas, but can be suited to live in sandy, woodland, or even mountainous areas.
One example of a place that an ostrich lives in is the North Africa throughout east to west. North Africa has the right weather for ostriches to live where there is enough sun shine, and very sufficient food.

ostrich_range.jpg
'Parts of the world the ostriches live in'

Adaptations
Structural adaptation 1- wings
One if the most special feature of the ostrich is its wings. Its wing span can be grown up to 2 meters. The wings’ main use is for insulation for body temperature. The feathers for the ostrich’s wings are not like normal birds; the feathers lack the tiny hooks the lock external feathers together like normal flying birds. Instead, the feathers are soft and fluffy, serving as insulation material. Another use for the wings are for mating and providing shade for chicks. When finding a suitable partner, male ostriches will open up their wings to attract the opposite sex.

The environmental pressure that affected how Ostriches use their wings, maybe reasons like to insulate temperatures, as the temperature varies greatly even from morning and night. They wings have to give enough protection in-order for the ostrich to stay alive. Since it does not need to fly, the wings had slowly been developed to give it easier abilities to survive.

Structural adaptation 2- legs
Another important physical adaptation to the ostrich is its powerful legs, which is longest of all birds. The main reason for the ostrich to run up to 70km/h is because of its 2-toed feet that can have a stride of 10-16 feet long. Only the inner toe which acts as a hoof has nails, and the outer toe has no nail. These pair of legs can help ostriches to escape from their predators without fighting with them. If the predator is really fast enough to chase up to the ostrich, it can still use its powerful legs which is powerful enough to kill a lion to kick it away.

The environmental pressure that may have led to the stong legs of the Ostrich maybe that they had many natural predators. Ostriches are too heavy to run, so their legs slowly developed into strong muscles that would help them escape from enemies.

ostrich123.jpg
'labelled photograph of physical descriptions of Ostrich'

Behavioral adaption 1 (eating rocks)
The ostrich is a really special animal, because it has no teeth and swallows the food without any motion of chewing it. But how is the food able to be digested? The answer lies in what they eat besides their normal meal. Ostriches eat rocks and pebbles to help grind the food into smaller pieces. An adult ostrich can carry up to 1kg of rocks and pebbles in its stomach. The ostrich’s digestive works in the following manner. The food swallowed travels into the gullet and then passes into the esophagus, in the process forming into a ball called a bolus. The rocks and pebbles then does its work and grinds the food into small pieces so that the ostrich can absorb nutrients and liquid easily.

The environmental pressure that have cause them to eat rocks is due to their lack of teeth. Ostriches are forced to swallow foods in whole, but they are smart and developed a skill to eat rocks to help grind food down into smaller pieces so they can absorb more nutrients.

Behavioral adaption 2 (lying on the ground to prevent from being seen)
One of the myths about ostriches is that they bury their head into sands when they want to prevent from being seen by predators. This is actually a myth. Ostriches do not bury their heads into sands when in danger, instead, their natural behavior comes into work. If the ostriches do not want to run or want to protect its young, it lies on to the ground and does not move a bit. It puts its head and neck flat on the ground. Because the ostrich’s neck and head has around the same color as the sand and ground, from a distance, the head will not be seen and would be portrayed as buried in the sand.

One environmental pressure that may have led to ostriches pretending to be stones is because they have many predators. When Ostriches need to protect their young and cannot run, they developed this ability. This ability helped the ostriches to save up more energy for other uses.

Physiological adaptation- (internal feature)
Ostriches are one of the fastest land animals currently living on the earth. People may wonder how its heart can support such harsh environment and extreme activities, the answer lies in the ostrich’s heart. The ostrich’s heart is actually not much different from a normal bird’s heart. The heart pumps blood to different parts of the body from four major veins.

Bibliography
-National Geographic. (2010). Ostrich. Retrieved July 7, 20010, from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/ostrich/
-San Diego Zoo. (2010). Birds: Ostrich. Retrieved July 7 2010, from http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-ostrich.html
-Davidson. The Ostrich. Retrieved July 7 2010, from http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2008/Blair/Habitat.html
-Wildwatch. (2008). Ostrich- Longest legs, largest eyes. Retrieved July 7 2010, from http://www.wildwatch.com/living_library/birds-1/ostrich-longest-legs-largest-eyes
The animal files. Ostrich. Retrieved July 7 2010, from http://www.theanimalfiles.com/birds/ostrich/ostrich.html