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Animal Structures: Nest Real Estate

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Visit Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History alongside NATURE’s host and ecologist Chris Morgan to view a sampling of birds’ nests from around the world. Each nest creation is the product of birds’ hard work and tells its own story.

Engineering Robotic Cameras to Observe Animals in Nature

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Learn how filmmakers use the engineering design process to make animatronic spy cameras in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. The cameras are disguised as animals to secretly record behavior in the wild. The episode Meet the Spies highlights many of the criterion and constraints the filmmakers face while designing the spies, which can be further explored with the teaching tips in the support materials. In the accompanying classroom activity, students use the engineering design process to design a camera carrier to observe animals in the wild.

The Structural Engineering of Nests

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Learn about the mechanical properties of birds’ nests from Yale University structural engineer Corey O’Hern in this video from NATURE: Animal Homes. Students learn about the properties that are key to a nest’s success in the wild and observe a laboratory test that measures how much force it takes to distort and destroy different kinds of nests.

Animal Structures: A Nest Made Out of Mud

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Learn how male and female red ovenbirds work together to build nests made out of mud and clay in this video from NATURE: Animal Homes. Their jobs are not finished once the nest is constructed, as they spend just as much time building it as they do defending it!

Gorillas

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In 1956, Snowflake, a white gorilla was captured in the wild and later housed in a zoo in Barcelona, Spain. In years past, captive gorillas were confined to cells alone and fed meat. Now scientists understand that gorillas are vegetarians and should live together as a family. Today, zoos construct environments to reflect gorillas natural habitats. In this video segment from Nature, discover how scientists have learned how to better raise and care for gorillas in captivity and learn about Colo, the first gorilla born in a zoo.

Skinks in the Desert: Behavior as an Adaptation for Survival

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See how great desert skinks work together to survive in the Australian desert in this video from NATURE: Animal Homes. Most reptiles live alone, but skinks live in colonies and make burrows. This unique behavior adaptation enable them to escape the hot desert temperatures.

Sloths in their Ecosystem

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Meet a very unique animal—the sloth—in this excerpt from NATURE: A Sloth Named Velcro.

Animal Adaptations: Brush Turkey Mounds

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In this video from NATURE: Animal Homes, explore the brush turkeys’ unique nest building practices on the forest floor.

Animal Adaptations: Countershading, Camouflage, and Great White Sharks

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In this video and supporting materials from NATURE: Natural Born Hustlers Part 2: The Hunger Hustle, learn about how some animals, like great white sharks, have adaptations like countershading to help them survive. Students learn about animal adaptation through observations and modeling of the countershading phenomenon.

Human and Asiatic Lion Interactions in India

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Find out how Asiatic lions and farmers in Gujarat share living space in this video from NATURE: India’s Wandering Lions. While deer, cattle and antelope can sometimes be pesky crop eaters for farmers, they are a delicious meal for the lions. The video demonstrates the strategy used by farmers and lions to help each other out, while also showing the various hunting roles each lion within a pride undertakes in order to hunt effectively.

Studying Adaptations for Walking in Dinosaurs

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Examine the adaptations that enabled huge dinosaurs called titanosaurs to walk in the video from NATURE: Raising the Dinosaur Giant. See how scientists study elephants and fossil leg bones to gather information. Learn how scientists use computers to take measurements and make 3D models as they study extinct animals.

Wolong's Pandas

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In this video segment from Nature, learn about the endangered pandas of the Wolong Conservation Center in China. When the bamboo plant, the panda's main source of food, began to die off in the 1980s, the center responded by rescuing starving pandas from the wild. This resource includes an activity where students learn to compare and contrast information from multiple sources and a fun game that explores how changes in an animal’s food source can impact survival. Discussion questions challenge students to think about how climate change affects animal and plant life. To learn about China's panda population, see the "Bamboo Mountain" video segment of this two-part series.

For more resources like this, see the rest of the Human Impact on the Environment collection.

Disappearance of the Bees - What's the Impact?

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When Chinese farmers in South Sichuan Province, the largest producers of pears in that region of China, alerted the government to the absence of bees and that the year's crop was endangered, the government's unprecedented response was to insist on hand-pollination. Meanwhile, farmers in the United States, faced with the same dilemma, wonder if this method will someday, too, be their fate. This video segment adapted from Nature: Silence of the Bees discusses the impact of the bees' disappearance, as well as the effects Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has on pollination and the world food supply.

Cats

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This video segment from Nature describes cats as independent, mysterious and aloof. While they have been domesticated for more than four thousand years, they are still powerful predators and survivalists. Cats have a reputation for being uncontrollable and leading solitary lifestyles, yet they compete with dogs as the most popular pet in America. Cats live in thirty percent of American households; however, they still demonstrate characteristics of creatures of the wild. Their hunting habits, for example, parallel those of lions, cheetahs and tigers.

Historic Relationships Between Dogs and Humans

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In this video segment from Nature, we learn that dogs were the first creatures to be domesticated. Ancient people thought of dogs as creatures of magic and as spiritual guardians. Dogs were often sacrificed and buried with people to protect them with their magical powers. In Mexico today, hairless Xolo (SHOW-low) dogs are believed to heal pain. Around the world dogs are useful to people for protection because of their bark, which acts as an alarm and can intimidate strangers. Barking dogs are a stronger deterrent for burglars than a burglar alarm.

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