Life Cycle - Organisms (2A)
Post Lab 

   
OBJECTIVES:
  • Discovering characteristics that can identify animals.
  • Identifying animals by the tracks they make.
VOCABULARY:
  • backbone
  • track
  • vertebrate
MATERIALS:

Students use a worksheet to compare animal tracks.

BACKGROUND:

There are many different ways to identify an organism. Their characteristics are not just dependant on the animalsí physical make-up. The tracks and trails an animal leaves can tell you the type of animal it is and whether it was walking or running. You can tell if the organism was by itself or with a group of other animals.

The way organisms live can also give you a clue. A mud swallow will leave a very characteristic nest, as most birds do. Burrows, for example from ants or gophers, can also help identify the animal. Even fecal matter gives you a clue. The "scat" of a coyote is very diagnostic! You know an owl is around if you find owl pellets (remains of last meals, usually bones and fur of rodents).

The footprints of animals are very diagnostic. A human footprint is unmistakable! There are grouping of animals that are helpful. For instance, hoofed animals versus animals with paws or toes. Learning the footprints of animals requires observing for unique characteristics.

PROCEDURE:

  1. Many times animals leave before we can observe them in nature. In this exercise the students will learn about the different tracks that animals leave.
      
  2. Tracks can be used to identify different animals. Ask the students what they can learn from tracks. List the answers on the board:

LEARNING ABOUT ANIMALS FROM THEIR TRACKS

if the animal walked on 2 or 4 feet

if the animal was large or small

type of animal

if the animal was walking or running

if one animal was following another

  1. Go over the following tracks with the students to see if they can predict what types of animals they came from. Notice that these are just a general look at bigger groups of animals. Draw the figure on the board and have the students guess. There are many books available on animal tracks. You may want to consult your library or the recommended book for more information.

4 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
raccoon, bear, skunk

4 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
heart shaped
deer family

5 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
weasels, minks, otters

4 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
rodents

4 toes front
5 toes rear
egg shaped
dog, fox, wolf, coyote

4 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
rabbit

4 toes front
5 toes rear
claws
round
cut, lion, bobcat
  1. Have students try to match the animal tracks around the border of the Wild Animal Placemats with the animals listed in the placemat.
      
  2. Use the worksheet to see if students can identify the tracks. Racoon (7), Owl (5), Fox (3), Deer (4), Cat (1), Deer mouse (6), Squirrel (2).

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