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Analyzing The Astounding Adaptations Of Animals That Live In Death Valley

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Death Valley is located in eastern California.

Death Valley is listed among the hottest places on this planet. The year 1913 marked the highest temperature of 134 F (56.6 C) on this land.

Due to the extreme heat of Death Valley, the sustenance of human beings in this region can sometimes get very difficult, especially during the summer months, when the temperature is very high. The desert is hot and subtropical. But that does not mean Death Valley is devoid of all forms of life. Death Valley is home to a large group of flora and fauna. Located in the northern part of the Mojave Desert in Eastern California, Death Valley is regarded as one of the driest and hottest places on the planet, not only in North America but all around the globe.

The harsh conditions of this desert valley have claimed many human lives over the years. Therefore, if you want to visit this place, you need to take certain measures to make your trip to Death Valley memorable. Over the years, animal species, as well as plant species, have adapted themselves in some very clever ways so as to survive the deadly heat of this place.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about animals in Iran and animals in Iceland here on Kidadl.

Ecology Of Death Valley National Park

The Death Valley national park is rich in flora and fauna. Over the years, all the species of small mammals, animals, birds, and other plants have managed to adapt to the climate of this valley.

Initially named as a national monument in 1993, Death Valley was later designated as a national park in 1994. Some of the notable places to explore, if you ever visit Death Valley National Park are Furnace Creek, Mojave National Preserve, and Kings Canyon, among many others. Located in the center of the Death Valley national park, Furnace Creek has a rich display of nature and history.

Some of the few animals that have adapted to Death Valley's arid environment are the desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, kangaroo rats, desert cottontail rabbits, and desert tortoises, among many others. Not only wildlife, but Death Valley also boasts a rich and large range of vegetation as well, like desert holly, creosote bush, and mesquite. It has unique landforms, like sand dunes, rocky ridges, and canyons as well. Death Valley was actually a part of a huge freshwater lake, most of which has dried up. Only a small part of this lake can be found in Salt Creek.

Mammals In Death Valley National Park

Some of the mammals that can be found in the Death Valley national park include the desert bighorn sheep, desert cottontail, California ground squirrel, chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, Merriam's kangaroo rat, kit fox, and canyon mouse, among many others.

The desert bighorn sheep are the largest native animals in this valley, which is an Endangered species as considered by the IUCN. Its elastic hooves have made their movement easier on the Death Valley's ridges and canyons. An interesting fact about these animals is that they can survive for a long period of time without water and can even lose up to a third of their body weight because of dehydration. They have huge, curled-shaped horns, and with their keen eyesight, they can evade predators easily. The most common area to spot the desert bighorn sheep is near Titus Canyon.

The desert mountain lion is listed as a Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is known to be the apex predator of Death Valley. They can survive in a wide variety of climates and are highly adaptable. They feed on a large variety of prey. They can be found in many regions of South America and have quite a stable population worldwide.

Wildlife In Death Valley National Park

The Death Valley is home to a large and diverse group of wildlife, which includes, 56 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles, and almost 400 species of birds as well.

The desert tortoise, one of the many inhabitants of this region, spends most of the time, in their burrows, underground in the desert sand, since they cannot control their body temperature. The lifespan of these animals is very long and can even extend up to 50-80 years. By staying underground for the majority of the year to shield themselves from the desert sun, they are able to preserve energy and water.

The kit fox is another species of animal found in Death Valley. They have large ears, which help them to dissipate body heat, and are extremely cute to look at. They are nocturnal creatures and can be found in the lower regions of the valley floor.

The desert pupfish, now listed as an Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a small-shaped silver-colored fish found in the Salt Creek of Death Valley, which is 161 ft (49 m) below sea level. Unlike other species of fish living in freshwater habitats, it is essential for the pupfish to drink water for their survival. Other species of small birds found in the Death Valley, include rock pigeons, belted kingfishers, hairy woodpeckers, and red-naped sapsuckers among many others.

Death Valley is the driest place in North America.

Plant And Animal Life

The annual precipitation of this region ranges from 1.9 in (4.8 cm) on the valley floor to 15 in (38 cm) in the high mountain ranges. Areas with an adequate amount of water, therefore, have rich vegetation.

The main vegetation zones mainly include desert holly at the lower range of the valley, as well as Joshua trees and limber pine, among many others. Thanks to the spring rains, a large variety of desert wildflowers can also be seen. Some of the cactus species found in this region include the silver cholla and cottontop barrel. Cactus can mainly be found in the northern regions, and their occurrence in the lower part of the valley is very rare.

For wildflowers to bloom, certain climatic conditions like rainfall, sun, and drying winds are needed. Once the wildflower seeds get washed down by the rainfall, the plants may bloom into beautiful flowers, provided there are sufficient rainstorms. Therefore, the age-old belief that the Death Valley is completely devoid of life, is untrue. Other than flora, there is a wide variety of animal life as well.

Kangaroo rats found in this region have adapted so well to the desert environment that they can survive even without drinking water. They get their required amount of water from the vegetarian diet they follow and can conserve body water in excellent ways. The Mojave Desert fringe-toed lizard is another inhabitant of this valley. Their specialized fringes allow them to move comfortably on land and they have nasal passages that stop the desert sand from entering their lungs.

They can be found buried underground, to escape the heat and search for sands of cooler temperatures that still have not faced the wrath of the heat outside. You can also find these plants and animals in Death Valley National Park in October or any other month.

Surviving Summer In Death Valley

Death Valley is covered with sand dunes, salt pans, springs, and ponds, and is regarded as one of the hottest and driest places on Earth.

It gets its name, after a group of travelers who were reportedly unable to find their way out of this region during the late 1800s. They called this region Death Valley after they lost one of their members to this place. Although the sustenance of humans in this region can get really difficult at times, there are still reportedly 320 people who live here. The summer months in Death Valley are especially cruel since at that time the temperature can even exceed 120 F (48.8 C).

If you want to visit this place, there are a few things that are required that you need to follow for a pleasant experience. The first and foremost thing is to carry and drink plenty of water so that you don't get dehydrated. It is advised to drink and carry at least 0.9 gal (4 l) of water so as to keep the balance of water in your body intact. It is also advisable to carry damp clothes so as to regulate the body temperature properly.

If you see any symptoms of heat illness, like headaches or nausea, immediately take cover in a sheltered area away from the sun, and drink an ample amount of water. There have been many cases over the years where people, after being unable to bear the heat of the deadly sun, have eventually lost their lives. Heat illnesses can have serious outcomes. Therefore, always be prepared for any form of situation, because you never know what might happen.

Adaptations To Survive In Death Valley

The common belief that Death Valley is devoid of any form of life is completely untrue. Over the years, many species of plants and animals have adapted themselves in clever ways and made this place their home.

However, animals that are not adapted to this climate cannot survive in Death Valley. Some of the animals found in the subtropical desert climate of Death Valley include the mountain lion, kangaroo rats, kit fox, devils hole pupfish, and desert tortoise, among many others. Other plant species include the desert holly, Joshua tree, and limber pine, to name a few. Most of these have very clever adaptation mechanisms that have in turn ensured their survival in this dry and hot region.

With the help of its shallow roots, the creosote bush in particular can soak water from the soil very quickly. They have a pretty long lifespan, almost over a century, and are easily identifiable by their bitter odor. In fact, most plant species have long roots that can go really deep into the soil in search of water. The leaves and stems of these plants are also modified in such a way that they slow the process of evaporation.

The devils hole pupfish that can be found in the warm water of springs located on the eastern side of Death Valley have adapted in such a way that they can survive very hot temperatures. Similarly, certain subspecies of fish, whose ancestors used to swim in freshwater, can now survive in saltwater as well. Such is the mystery of nature. Last but not least, the kangaroo rats are thought to be the most well-adapted animals. Their lungs and bodies have adapted to the heat in such a way, that they can even survive without drinking fresh water.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals that live in Death Valley, then why not take a look at animals in the Arctic ocean or the animals of the Great Barrier Reef.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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