It’s a Jungle Out There: How Species Survive in the Jungle
Lesson Overview

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TIME ALLOTMENT: Two or three 45-minute class periods

OVERVIEW: Using segments from the PBS program NATURE: “Moment of Impact, Part 2: Jungle,” students will learn about skills and features that help species survive in the jungle. In the Introductory Activity, students will play a game where they are challenged to match species to adaptations which help them survive in the jungle. Students will create a definition for “adaptation” and revise the definition throughout the lesson, based on new information that they learn. In the Learning Activities, students will learn about the panther chameleon and the adaptations that help it survive. In an optional extension activity, students will examine the lyrics to “Karma Chameleon,” using their new knowledge of chameleons and will create a poem or song lyrics about chameleons. Students will also learn about the different layers of the jungle and the species that inhabit them, as well as how species get their prey and defend themselves from predators. In the Culminating Activity, students will create models illustrating the adaptations/skills different species use to survive.


Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:
o Provide a definition for an “adaptation” and describe different adaptations that help species capture prey and protect themselves from predators.
o Describe a panther chameleon and list at least 3 adaptations that help it survive in the jungle.
o Discuss the different layers of the jungle, species that reside in each and adaptations that help them survive.
o Create a diagram and/or 3D model to explain an adaptation that helps a species survive.
o Describe one jungle species in detail and explain the features/ skills that help it survive.

National Science Education Standards

Grades 9-12:
Content Standard C: Life Science
Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include:
• The Interdependence of Organisms
o Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.
• The Behavior Of Organisms
o Multicellular animals have nervous systems that generate behavior. Nervous systems are formed from specialized cells that conduct signals rapidly through the long cell extensions that make up nerves. The nerve cells communicate with each other by secreting specific excitatory and inhibitory molecules. In sense organs, specialized cells detect light, sound, and specific chemicals and enable animals to monitor what is going on in the world around them.
o Organisms have behavioral responses to internal changes and to external stimuli. Responses to external stimuli can result from interactions with the organism’s own species and others, as well as environmental changes; these responses either can be innate or learned. The broad patterns of behavior exhibited by animals have evolved to ensure reproductive success. Animals often live in unpredictable environments, and so their behavior must be flexible enough to deal with uncertainty and change. Plants also respond to stimuli.
o Like other aspects of an organism’s biology, behaviors have evolved through natural selection. Behaviors often have an adaptive logic when viewed in terms of evolutionary principles.
o Behavioral biology has implications for humans, as it provides links to psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

NATURE: “Moment of Impact, Part 2: Jungle,” selected segments
Note: Clip 1 is used in Learning Activity 1. The other clips can be used by students, as they create their culminating projects.

Clip 1: “Panther Chameleon”
An overview of what skills/features help the colorful panther chameleon survive in the jungle.

Clip 2: “Amazonian Boa”
An overview of the features that help the Amazonian boa capture prey and survive the jungle.

Clip 3: “Antsy on the Forest Floor”
A close look at the leafcutter and carnivorous trap-jaw ants.

Clip 4: “Bats”
A close look at bats and how they use sound to locate prey.

Clip 5: “Cuban Crocodile”
A look at the bioengineering of the Cuban crocodile and how it navigates in water and on land.

Clip 6: “The Lizard and the Butterfly”
A close look at a basilisk lizard’s surprise attack on an unsuspecting blue morpho butterfly.

Clip 7: “Monkey Business”
An overview of the spider monkey and how it moves through the jungle.

Clip 8: “Osprey”
A brief look at the osprey and how its body design is well-suited for spotting and capturing fish.

Clip 9: “Paradise Tree Snake”
A look at how the paradise tree snake escapes danger by “snaking” through the air.

Clip 10: “Red Eyed Tree Frog”
A look at how the paradise tree snake escapes danger by “snaking” through the air.

Clip 11: “Tiger”
A look at what makes the tiger a successful hunter.

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

o Supporting Resources for the Lesson
The following sites are resources which can be helpful for students to use when conducting research during the following portions of the lesson:
Introductory Activity
The BBC Virtual Jungle website
This website features a variety of information about the structure of the jungle and the plants and animals living there.
Rainforest Alliance
This website contains a variety of information about rainforests, including a section about rainforest species ( which could be helpful to students in this lesson.
Note: Both of these websites can also be used by students as resources throughout the lesson.

Learning Activity 2:
Jungle Journey
In this section of the Nature website, students can explore the different layers of the jungle and the wildlife that inhabits each.

The Layers of the Rainforest

This page contains info about the 4 rainforest layers, which can be used in Learning Activity #2. (This page is within the rainforest section of the California Institute of Technology’s Space Radiation Lab website)
This website features a variety of information about wild lands and wildlife, including information about rainforests:

The following sections can be used to help students explore the layers of the rainforest in Learning Activity 2:
o The Canopy
o The Forest Floor

Optional Extension Activity:
Karma Chameleon Lyrics
These lyrics to Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon” can be used in the optional activity.

Culminating Activity:
Additional Resources Page
This page on the Nature website includes links to resources about blue morpho butterflies, tigers, trap-jaw ants, spider monkeys, snakes, Cuban crocodiles, tigers and other species, which could be used by students in the culminating activity.
Animals of the Rainforest
This page provides details about different rainforest species including the blue morpho butterfly and spider monkey. (This page is within the rainforest section of the California Institue of Technology’s Space Radiation Lab website:
Rainforest Connection
This Montclair State University website includes information about various species of mammals that live in the rainforest, including bats and spider monkeys, which students can use in the culminating activity. To directly access this information, students can go to the mammal index.

o Optional related website:
Jungle Survival Game
This Discovery Channel Game challenges visitors to make decisions to help them survive in the jungle.

For the class:
o Computers with internet access.
o Computer, projection screen and speakers (for class viewing of online/downloaded “Panther Chameleon” video segment).
o 1 copy of the “Adaptations Game” answer key.” (download here)

For each group of 5-10 students:
o 1 copy of the “Adaptations Game” (download here).

Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and websites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer(s) or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.
Bookmark any websites that you plan to use in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.
Print out one copy of the “Adaptations Game” for each group of 5-10 students.

Print out one copy of the “Adaptations Game Answer Key.”

In the “Adaptations Game,” cut out each species card along the dotted lines and paper clip each set of 10 species cards to the corresponding box in the adaptations sheet.

Next: Proceed to Lesson Activities

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