Bony “skeletons” will be out and about this Halloween, looking for treats. In the natural world, the structure and shape of a creature’s bones influence the physical “tricks,” or adaptations, that help it survive. Here is a list of creatures and a list of bone descriptions. Can you match each up? Answers are below.
1. The lengths of the thigh and ankle, and the combined length of the bones that make up this animal’s foot, are almost equal. At rest, these bones are bent over each other at the knee and ankle. When the animal straightens these leg bones in a burst of energy, the bends act like levers, giving more power and distance to the creature’s jump.
2. This animal’s thin, extra-long finger bones are attached by thin, webbed skin. The thumb has a claw at the end, which helps the creature hold food or crawl when the animal isn’t flying.
3. Some species of this creature have more than 400 vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine), which make this animal very flexible.
4. This animal’s tail bones are long and tiny. They help the creature keep its balance when scurrying along tree branches. The tail also acts like a rudder when the animal is leaping from limb to limb.
5. The bones of this animal’s forelimbs are heavy and shovel-like. Its skull is shaped like a thin arrow. With bones like these, it’s no wonder this animal can dig tunnels of up to 13 feet an hour.
6. Some of this animal’s bones contain air sacs near its lungs. These help to increase the creature’s oxygen supply by pulling air through the lungs. They also decrease the creature’s weight.
Answers: 1. Frog; 2. Bat; 3. Snake; 4. Squirrel; 5. Mole; 6. Bird