Odd One Out

Amazing adaptations

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 9 – 11

Science topics:

Evolution and inheritance

Explore adaptation with these three camouflaging creatures. Will your class be able to spot them? This activity is great for promoting observation and discussion skills.

Run the activity

1. Show the three images above and ask everyone to come up with as many similarities and differences as they can. If they get stuck, prompt them to think about:

  • appearance
  • what they do
  • where they might be found

2. Then, everyone needs to decide which one is the odd one out and why. Encourage a reason for every answer and there is no wrong answer!

Background science

The animals in the pictures: leaf tail gecko, peppered moth and flounder, are all suited to their environments. Their colouring means they are able to blend in with their surroundings and, as a result, are less likely to be spotted by predators. This is fantastic for the animals...until the environment changes.

The story of the peppered moth is an example of an animal which has survived a change in its environment through natural selection. There are two varieties of moth, pale and dark. In the nineteenth century, before the industrial revolution, most peppered moths were pale and well camouflaged against the pale bark and lichen on the birch trees they rested on. Moths with darker colouring were easily spotted and eaten by birds. 

During the industrial revolution, airborne pollution in industrial areas blackened the birch tree bark with soot. Black moths were now camouflaged. The pale variety stood out and became more vulnerable to predators. Now the black variety was more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, the black peppered moths became far more numerous in urban areas than the pale variety.

Take it further

As a class, can you think of other animals which use camouflage to survive? Can you think of other strategies animals use to escape predators? What would make some better at surviving than others? Why not find out more about the peppered moth or other examples of animals in nature who have had to adapt to changes in their environments or to global warming. Try these fantastic games to see if you can identify where the camouflaged animal and their eggs are.

Image credits: 

Marek R. Swadzba via Shutterstock;

Jiri Balek via Shutterstock;

Damsea via Shutterstock;