Animal Species Studied Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2701 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals

The omega wolf would keep his head hung low, while the Alpha kept his head held very high. Although the wolves in captivity obviously did not hunt prey, they did play with large beach balls provided to them in a manner similar to what I would expect from a pack hunting, with the different wolves running around to keep the "prey" herded in while others lunged in for the attack.

The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

The black bear, also known as the cinnamon bear, is the most common bear in North America. In fact, 39 of the 50 United States have black bear terrain within them. Today the number of black bears sits below 200,000, though once there were as many as two million in North America. The black bear is about five feet long. Males, which weigh in around 290 pounds, are much larger than females, which are usually only around 90 pounds. Incredibly, some black bears have been recorded as weighing close to 700 pounds. Cubs are born weighing about one pound. Black bears have small eyes compared to their long snout and large body. Their ears are round, and they have a short tail. Black bears are usually but not always black, and can in fact range in colors from white and blonde to dark brown, and the fur is shaggy.

Black bears normally walk in a shuffle on all fours, though they might stand on their hind legs to walk for a brief time. The paws have five claws each that are very strong and used for digging in the ground, climbing trees, and tearing flesh.

They enjoy forested and shrubby land, but also roam meadows, tidelands, ridgetops, and a wide variety of terrain.

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They utilize heavy forest cover for hiding and warmth, and will climb trees to escape danger. These bears do hibernate over the winter in warn dens.

These bears are sexually mature at four years old, and they only breed every two to three years. They breed in May or June, but the majority of fetus development takes place over the winter while the mother hibernates, and they will be born during the winter. Black bears do not generally hunt, although they could easily take down large prey animals. They eat mostly vegetation, but also some carrion and insects.

Term Paper on Animal Species Studied for This Assignment

The Black Bears I observed were not nearly as active as the wolves previously studied. However, it was easy to tell that their heavy fur was protective against the cold and also against the water in which they seemed to enjoy swimming. I did at one point see a black bear stand on his hind legs and grab for a tree branch with his front paws, so it was possible to tell how the bear has evolved to be able to both shuffle on all four legs, but also to stand on the hind legs alone to use the heavy front paws and additional height to reach for things. When the bears hid under the brush in their habitat, they were very difficult to see, and again this camouflage is a great evolutionary advantage. The bears seemed very gentle and lazy, not quite the roaring vicious image portrayed in movies.

The Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa)

The Prickly Pear is one of the most common of the cactus family that natively grow in the Eastern parts of the United States, and they are remarkably resistant to both the cold and to the heat. The Prickly Pear Cactus consists of several levels of flattened pads, up to 10 inches long each, that build from the ground up. The oldest pads are usually blue-green, while the newest pads are more of a yellow-green color. The pads are have several spines, each growing from a raised aureole. The spines appear gray or brown, and are up to four inches long. The plant will also produce yellow flowers with an orange or red center, which will bloom for one day during the summer. It also may briefly have leaves each year. It also produces a delicious, but dangerously prickly, fruit. Usually, this plant stands up to 2.5 feet tall.

The plant reproduces vegetatively, the older pads may drop to the ground and re-root into the ground.

This plant thrives in full sun with little rain, and does best in rocky and sandy soil. However, it will also tolerate some shade, some moisture, and some loamy soil. Habitat areas include sandy forests, sandy savannas, sand prairies, gravel prairies, barrens and rocky bluffs, pastures, and sand dunes, among others. These are areas where vegetation does not usually thrive because of the harsh conditions, which is of a great advantage to the Prickly Pear cactus which has little competition.

It has developed thick pads (which have been observed to be very strong and resistant to touch) which retain moisture and shallow, fibrous roots that do well in sandy soil. It also has flowers which are very attractive to bees, which will help to pollenate the plants, and also the fruit has developed to be very delicious to certain animals, such as the wild turkey, striped skunk, rabbits, deer, and coyote, who will also in this way help the plant reproduce. However, it is easy to see that the spines provide the plant with protection at the same time.

The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

The Venus Flytrap is a carnivorous plant, which is unique within the plant kingdom.

The leaves of this plant divide into lobes connected at the base with a hinge. This trap is filled with an attractive-smelling glans that is red in color, which lures in the prey, such as flies or spiders. Along the inside of the trap, there are cilia, and these tiny hairs act as the trigger for the leaves to close around the trapped fly, and the spines along the edge of the trap close like teeth around the food. The insect is digested inside the trap, then the trap reopens to discard the remains. Traps will die after digesting several meals.

This plant has obviously evolved incredibly to survive. It is found in bogs where the soil is low in many vital nutrients that would otherwise be absorbed by the roots, and so the plant has learned to digest prey for the missing nutrition. Also, the hairs inside the trap must be touched twice in rapid succession to prevent it from being triggered falsely by raindrops or dust. This almost intelligent behavior is an incredible advantage evolutionarily, because it prevents expending energy in an attempt to trap and digest a meal which is not really there. An interesting note is that these plants have a dormant period during the winter, similar to the hibernation of the black bears mentioned earlier.


ContiE et al. "Wolf." Wikipedia. March 2004.

Hilty, John. "Eastern Prickly Pear." Insect Visitors of Prairie Wildflowers in Illinois. 2003.

Marshman, et al. "Opuntia." Wikipedia. March, 2004.

Naddy, et al. "American Black Bear." Wikipedia. March, 2004.

UtherSRG et al."Venus Flytrap." Wikipedia. March, 2004. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Animal Species Studied" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Animal Species Studied.  (2004, March 26).  Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Animal Species Studied."  26 March 2004.  Web.  8 July 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Animal Species Studied."  March 26, 2004.  Accessed July 8, 2020.