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Question Video: Applying the Definition of Behavioral Adaptations to Identify Behavioral Adaptations of Emperor Penguins Science

Look at the picture. Which of these adaptations of emperor penguins is a behavioral adaptation? [A] Male and female penguins have an insulated pouch, called a brood pouch, between their feet to keep their egg or chick warm. [B] Male penguins can go for about 100 days without eating. [C] Adult male penguins keep the egg warm for weeks, while the females go hunting.

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Video Transcript

Look at the picture. Which of these adaptations of emperor penguins is a behavioral adaptation? (A) Male and female penguins have an insulated pouch, called a brood pouch, between their feet to keep their egg or chick warm. (B) Male penguins can go for about 100 days without eating. Or (C) adult male penguins keep the egg warm for weeks, while the females go hunting.

The question asks us to identify which of the adaptations given in the answer choices is a behavioral adaptation. A behavioral adaptation is a specific action or behavior that an organism performs that makes it well suited to its environment.

Let’s look at the adaptation described in answer choice (A). This answer choice describes the brood pouch, which is a pouch between the penguins’ feet, which keeps the egg or chick warm. This answer choice isn’t describing an action or behavior, so cannot be the correct answer. The brood pouch is, in fact, an example of a different type of adaptation, called a structural adaptation. A structural adaptation is a special physical feature of an organism that makes it well suited to its environment.

Let’s consider answer choice (B), which states that male penguins can go for about 100 days without eating. This is a useful ability as it means the males can remain behind protecting the egg and chick once hatched, whilst the females go hunting for long periods. The male is able to do this because he will have built up fat stores over the summer months, a structural adaptation, and by sleeping for much of the day, which conserves energy. The ability to fast for long periods is not a behavioral adaptation. So we can eliminate answer choice (B).

The final answer choice states that the adult male penguins keep the egg warm for weeks, while the females go hunting. This adaptation is behavioral. The male stays and protects the egg, increasing the chances of the chick surviving in the harsh Antarctic environment, whilst the mother hunts for vital food. So, the adaptation of the emperor penguins which is a behavioral adaptation is given in answer choice (C). Adult male penguins keep the egg warm for weeks, while the females go hunting.

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