Speciation Worksheet

Speciation Worksheet
Name _________________________________ Date _______ Period ____
Read each of the following examples of speciation/evolution and determine which type of
speciation (convergent evolution, geographic isolation, coevolution, or adaptive
radiation) is best being described.
1. Porcupines in the United States have quills (spines) that are attached to their skins. When
they feel threatened, they can tense up their bodies causing the quills to “shoot out”. These
spiny quills can pierce the skin of attacking animals, causing injury and pain. Although not
closely related to the porcupine, hedgehogs that live throughout parts of Europe also have
protective spines that they use to defend themselves from attacking animals.
2. Kingsnakes are a family of snakes that usually eat other snakes, in the wild. Even though
many of the snakes they eat a very poisonous, kingsnakes have adapted the ability to not be
affected by their poisons. Some of these poisonous snakes, like rattlesnakes have adapted
other defensive behaviors (other than biting) to try and “scare off” the kingsnakes.
3. River otters that live in South American rivers eat fish and other smaller creatures they can
capture. These animals have become reproductively isolated from the closely related sea otter,
who live in the ocean waters along the Pacific coast, many thousands of miles away.
4. The flowers that bloom from the saquaro cactus have evolved a bright, white coloration to
attract many of the bats they rely on to pollinate (fertilize) their flowers. Since they rely on the
bats, they have also adapted to opening their flowers at night, when the bats are active. The
bats have also adapted to the
cactus by developing the ability hover (slightly) above the flowers and a long tongue that can
reach deep inside the flower.
5. Chameleons are lizard-like reptiles. Each of their two eyes can move in completely different
directions, so they can see all the way around themselves. Sand lances are a type of fish that
can also move their eyes like the chameleon, even though they are not at all related to one
6. In the United States, there are several species of poisonous scorpions that all evolved from
one common ancestor. Although most of these scorpion species occupy similar niches, none of
them can reproduce with one another.
7. Humans and most bird species have adapted the ability to see their worlds in color vision.
8. Birds like parrots have evolved strong, thick beaks that they use to open and eat tough fruits
and nuts. The fruits and nuts they eat are among the strongest and hardest to open in the world.
9. Octopus and squid live in seas throughout the world. Both have mouths with beaks, like
parrots, that they use to cut and eat their prey with. These beaks are much like a parrot’s, which
are birds that live among the trees of tropical forests.
10. In South America lives an alligator-like animal called a caimen. These animals have
lifestyles and niches very similar to the American alligator, but have been reproductively isolated
from them for millions of years.
11. Ducks and beavers both have webbed-feet.
12. There are species of lizards that burrow underground. Gophers and moles are mammals
that also burrow underground.
13. The cuckoo bird and cowbirds have evolved eggs that closely mimic those of other birds
(the hosts). Their young also have characteristics (feather coloration and calls) that mimic the
young of those other birds and encourage the host parents to feed them. In response, some
hosts have developed the ability to discriminate between their own offspring and eggs, and
those of the cuckoos and cowbirds.
14. Coyotes and wolves occupy different niches, but are also closely related.
15. The entire group of animals known as marsupials (ex.: kangaroos, koalas and platypus)
have adapted to having a “pouch” on their bodies, where their young can grow and develop.
Marsupials were once related to other mammal, but are now reproductively isolated since being
on the island of Australia for the last several millions years.
16. With common ancestors, deer and elk in the United States live in many of the same
environments. The niches they occupy are similar, but nonetheless are different.
17. Many fruit-eating birds, especially in tropical rain forests, have adapted with the plants
whose fruits they eat. The birds get nourishment, and in the process the plants get their
digestion-resistant seeds dispersed (spread out) by regurgitation (throwing up, ew?) or along
with the birds' droppings.
18. Prehensile tails can curve around and grasp branches and other objects, like a
supplementary arm. Many monkeys have these prehensile tails. Many chameleons (small
lizards) successfully use this same adaptation.
19. There are many plant species who rely on with color-blind animals to eat their fruits. These
animals will eat the fruits, but the tough seeds within them are not digested. The benefit to the
plant is that the animal will leave the area and the seed will be dispersed (spread out) in other
areas, through the animals’ droppings. Since these animals are color-blind, the plants produce
fruits that are more-smelly (rather than colorful), since these same animals tend to have good
senses of smell.
20. A species of plants called “silversides” live in Hawaii. They are very unique in that they have
many different forms. Over the last several million years, they have been reproductively isolated
from their original species, believed to be located in South America.
Study collections