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The Thorny Devil

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by

Bernice Tesara

on 19 May 2014

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Transcript of The Thorny Devil

Defense Against Predators
Gather Nutrients and Water
With reliable sources of food and water hard to find, the Thorny Devil has adapted to receive its food and water in minimal amounts and live off it. In order to receive water and evade dehydration, it rubs its skin against the dew produced by spinifex. The water then runs down the microscopic grooves in the skin to the mouth. The Thorny Devil's only food source are ants-it lays along an ant trail, gathering them up one at a time with its short sticky tongue, consuming thousands in one meal to provide nutrients for itself. So that it doesn't exhaust these sources, it is nomadic, and as the sources only exist during the day, it is diurnal. Without the adaptations, it would die from dehydration and starvation.
Habitat-The Australian Desert
Temperature Tolerance
The temperatures of the Australian desert can range from 18 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius during various times of the year, so to survive these temperatures, the Thorny Devil has adapted, most of these adaptations behavioural. It takes refuge in bushes to escape both the heat and the cold, and to survive the hottest days and the freezing nights, it buries itself in the sand. As it its endothermic it takes in the heat when it sun-basks to achieve a suitable temperature for moving and then carries on with their routine, but it doesn't move during the coldest months as it can not execute this procedure. To increase its body temperature, it maintains more points of contact with the ground, and to decrease its temperatures, it minimizes its points of contact. The Thorny devil's tough skin which can tolerate the high temperatures, correlates to the temperature-it is paler when warm, and darker when cooled down. Without these adaptations, it would die from heat exhaustion or from the cold.
The Thorny Devil is a lizard superbly adapted to the harsh habitat of the desert. Its adaptations have enabled it defend itself against predators, tolerate the extreme temperatures, gather nutrients and water, and reproduce in a punishing environment.
The Thorny Devil
Area which the Thorny Devil occupies
Inflated Thorny Devil
Spines
The desert consists of biotic and abiotic factors. Its main abiotic factor is sand, although disturbed by man-made roads. The sunlight provides high temperatures and light, and rain occurs, but only rarely and irregularly. Some biotic factors are spinifex, mulga, flowers, cacti (plants), kangaroos, dingos, bilbies, camels,frogs and bearded dragons, but the animals that have a bigger impact on the Thorny Devil are bustards (birds), ants and sand goannas. The desert is at a low altitude with little precipitation and water, a lot of light and high temperatures during the daytime, but little light and fairly low temperatures at night.
Map of Australia
Thorny devil is only 20cm fully grown, compared to its predators, the sand goanna and the bustard, it is extremely small-but its distinctive defense system ensures that it is not easy prey. Its body is well equipped for attacks-its conical spines discourage predators from consuming it, it has the ability to change its skin to camouflage itself better amongst the surrounding environment and it is able to anchor itself to the ground be applying counter-pressure to its tail, if a bustard ever tries to lift it and eventually eat it. The Thorny Devil has also changed its behaviour to evade predators-it walks in such a way that it looks like twigs or leaves from the air, where the bustard is, and when it feels threataned it tucks its head between its legs to reveal its false head, which makes swallowing impossible. To intimidate predators, it puffs itself up with air to make its spikes more prominient, and its size increased. All of these adaptions ensure that there is a minimal chance of it being eaten.
Sand Goanna (predator)
Bustard (predator)
Camouflaged Thorny Devil
False head
Small grooves
Curved tail
Camouflaged, thick skin
Rigid structure
Ability to puff itself up
Short sticky tongue
Walks in an jerky fashion
Buries itself in sand
Takes refuge in shubs
Endothermic
Diminutive size
Travels longer distances during mating season
Lays max. 10 eggs
Alive at birth
Bibliography
By Bernice Tesara
Science A

Doesn't move in the colder months
Full transcript