Alien creature consequences
It is a fun way to explore the features and special adaptations of individual species and diversity of living things, by creating a mixed up creature!
Did you know?
What do you get if you cross a pony with a bird? A horse fly!In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monstrous creature made of the parts of multiple animals. Some say it had the body of a goat, the tail of a snake, or dragon, and the head of a lion and it breathed fire from one or more of its heads.
In reality, adaptation means having certain body parts/ structures or behaviour that allow the animals or plants to survive and thrive in their environments. It is often a matter of life or death!
Before the activity
Read a story where the animal in question is described vividly or suggested e.g. ‘The Gruffalo’, an animal riddle, or a poem.
To get the children thinking about animal adaptations to their habitat and lifestyle, play a game of animal consequences.
Divide the class into teams of around 5 each. Each group has a piece of paper folded into 5 sections, with marks ready made on each fold to show where the ‘joins’ are. The first person in the group draws the head (without the others seeing their drawing, folds their section & passes it on to the next person and so on) , the next the arms/wings/legs, the next the body, then hind legs/flippers etc, then tail.
For each section, call out what special function this body part needs to do – for example ‘a head that can breathe air from underwater’, or ‘legs that can reach out to catch flying prey’, or allocate this task to a child.
At the end of the game, each group unfolds their paper to reveal their special animal. Each group can allocate their new species a name that describes it, and the sheets pinned up to form a new ‘alien species’ creature display.
The animals created may seem weird and wonderful, but real examples can be seen in nature and on our doorsteps! Find examples of different animals in Scotland that show specialised adaptations to their way of life (think of the different habitats available).
Humans, unlike animals, sometimes have to use technology to adapt to environments we are, as land mammals, not suited for. Think of the space suits used by astronauts to control their temperature and for breathing so they can survive space travel. Can you think of some of the technological adaptations people use to move or survive in a variety of animal habitats eg freshwater, underground, oceans, air, treetops, mountains, polar regions etc. Can you name to some of the creatures that live comfortably in these environments?
Imagine that a message could be sent to an alien planet, illustrating 10 Scottish species of plants or animals. Discuss which 10 species would best represent Scotland’s varied countryside.
See animal images and poems by Gerry Cambridge in his anthology ‘Nothing But Heather’
SNH Education and Teachers Resources series: see ‘All About’ animal fact sheets