In this experiment, we aim to provide an understanding about the concepts of adaptation through a series of tests. This involves using our different senses to perceive changes in an environment, and how we’ll be able to adapt to these changes.
In the first experiment, the sense that we are going to use is the sense of taste. Through this test, we’ll determine how we adapt to changes in what we taste or basically what we eat. By mixing sugar into water, we create a sweet substance which we’re going to use for the taste test. We also need fresh water in order to tell any differences afterwards. What I did was to take a sip of sugar water and let it stay in my mouth for some time, until it tastes less sweet. It took several seconds until it tasted less sweet, and afterwards I took a sip from the cup containing fresh water. The surprising part was that the fresh water tasted doesn’t have any taste in it at all. I know water supposedly has no taste, but with the experiment, it tasted stale.
In the next test, the sense that will be used is our tactile sense, mainly the skin’s perception of temperature. Through this test, we’ll determine how we adopt to the changes of temperature in our environment. We prepare three bowls with tap water of varying temperature. One is hot (but not painfully so), another is very cold, and the other is a mixture of the hot and cold tap water. What I did was to submerge my left hand in the hot tap water and my right hand on the cold tap water. I let it stay there for three minutes, and afterwards I placed both my hands in the bowl containing the mixture of hot and cold tap water. I took not of what I felt in the experiment.
Upon placing my both my hands in the mixture of water, I noticed that my left (which was previously submerged on the hot one) felt cold until it slowly changes back to the temperature of the water mixture. Same goes for my right hand, which felt warm when I submerged it in the mixture until it slowly changed back to the temperature of the water mixture. The skin’s receptor was not able to perceive any changes in the temperature in the water.
The final test was again on the tactile sense, wherein we have to rub our index finger into a sand paper and rate its coarseness from 1 to 7, where 1 is very soft, and 7 is very coarse. When I rubbed my index finger to the sandpaper, my initial rating was that it’s 7, since I felt that it was very coarse to touch. When I rubbed my index finger on the sand paper for a second time, it felt a little different. It’s as if it lost its coarseness a bit. I gave it a rating of 5.
Basing on the experiment, adaptation can be defined as the loss of sensitivity of a receptor due to prolonged stimulation of it. Because of this, it would require a stronger stimulus in order to further activate it. Adaptation is defined as a positive characteristic of an organism that has been favoured by natural selection, since they are able to live successfully in an environment. This enables living organisms to cope with environmental stresses and pressures, something which could result from the body structure, the organism’s behaviour, or its physiology (EPA.gov, 2007).
Adaptation is evident in each of the results of the experiments. On the first experiment on water sugar, there was a sour aftertaste when I sipped fresh water. This could be because sour taste neutralizes the sweet taste so when we sipped sugar water and swished it all over our mouth, we psychologically perceive that there is a sour taste in order to neutralize the sweet taste in our mouths.
On the second experiment on waters with different temperatures, we experience adaptation by being able to keep a constant body temperature. When we have our hands submerged in both hot and cold water and then submerge it to a mixture of cold and hot water. Our body tends to maintain a constant body temperature, so when it was from the hot water and then submerging it to the mixture, it would surely feel cold at first until we get used to the temperature. Same goes with the cold water, wherein when we submerge it to the mixture it would feel warm until it gets used to the temperature of the mixture.
On the third experiment, we experience adaptation at the tactile sensory level, wherein we tend to get used to the feel of the coarse sand paper, that when we rub at it again, it feels a little less coarse. This is adaptation in a sense that our body or our perception of the coarse texture of the sand paper is gradually being changed to a state wherein we won’t feel uncomfortable in rubbing against it. As we feel that it is a little less coarse, then we are able to cope with its coarse texture.
We can associate this with the theory of adaptation by Lamarck, where organisms inherit the traits which are necessary for them to survive. Those who inherit this trait are able to continue to live, while those who don’t tend to perish. Because of this, the organisms who continue to exist are the ones who were able to get traits which would enable them to adapt to the world they live in.
In an evolutionary perspective, adaptation is really important because those who are able to adapt will be the ones to survive and continue to exist. This will result to organism who posses traits which are important for them to live in their environment. As the time continues to change the surroundings, only those who are able to cope with these changes will be the ones left to live. Those who are not fit enough to adapt to these changes will surely perish. Those who successfully adapts would lead to the creation of a better species.
EPA.gov. (2007). Adaptation. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/adaptation.html