Adaptations to Extreme Environments

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Adaptations of Living Organisms to the Antarctic’s Extreme Conditions. The Antarctic, also called the south pole, is one of the world's seven continents and lies at around 60° south of the equator (Singh et al.., 2010). The Antarctic is an example of an extreme environment. An extreme environment is a habitat that most life-forms find intolerable, or even, sometimes, lethal (Rampelotto, 2013). It is the Antarctic’s average temperature of minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, average ice depth of 6,500 feet and the fact that the region contains around seven million cubic miles of ice that allows the Antarctic to be classified as an extreme environment (Mulvaney, 1997). As it is an extreme environment, any living organisms found in Antarctica will have to deal with these harsh conditions. Despite all of this however, quite a few living organisms can still be found throughout the Antarctic. These living organisms are able to survive as they have adapted themselves to suit the conditions. The adaptations of the Weddell Seal, the Antarctic Lichen, and a micro-organism called cyanobacteria will be discussed in this essay. These organisms have all adapted to the same conditions but in different ways. The Weddell Seal, Leptonychotes Weddellii, is a mammal mainly found on the shore-fast ice around the Antarctic (Testa and Siniff, 1987). Weddell Seals have a blubber layer just below their skin that runs the length of their bodies, which ranges in thickness between 1.6 - 2.4 inches. It is this blubber that allows them to maintain their constant body temperature of approximately 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit (Williams, 2003). It is this constant body temperature that allows the seals to live in the cold waters of the Antarctic. However, as mentioned above, Weddell Seals also spend a lot of time on the ice, avoiding predators such as the killer whale (Testa and Siniff, 1987). This leaves

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