As droughts continue to happen all over the world, mankind has much to learn from the plants and animals of the desert. For instance, conservation of water is a primary goal of both. Most desert wildlife get their water from their fuel. They eat young plants, fruit and seeds - or if carnivores, the blood and tissues of their prey. Once they have retained water, they can prevent it from leaving their body by burrowing to avoid the drying sun and only emerging at night to eat. Then there are creatures like scorpions with exoskeletons made of chitin, which is like a shrimp shell, to reduce the loss of moisture. Biologically, the kidneys of desert animals concentrate urine so they excrete less water, less often.
There is much more than just animal life in the desert. Plants need to catch and store water when available, to survive the extreme dryness and range of temperatures within a day. Cacti have altered their physical structure so that they have few or no leaves, which reduces moisture loss. Other plants have adapted by growing extremely long roots to reach soil that has more moisture. Some, like the Joshua Tree, simply take their time growing. They may take 60 years to come to maturity and can live more than 500 years. Go ahead and take this quiz. You'll be amazed by all the desert beauty!
These predatory arachnids are characterized by their eight legs, a pair of pedipalps and a curved, segmented tail that has a venomous stinger in the end.
This species of beetles are known for rolling dung into a large, round ball which they use to feed on or lay eggs into.
Barrel cactus, scientifically known as Echinocactus grusonii, is a species of cactus endemic to east-central Mexico.
Gazelles are a small species of antelopes known for running in quick, short bursts of up to 60 mph.
The Joshua tree is a plant species found in the southwestern region of the U.S. particularly Arizona, Utah, California and Nevada.
Ants are social insects known for living in colonies made up of the queen (s), female workers and males.
These large lizards are part of the iguanid family, whom they bear a similar resemblance to. They are identified by their loose skin, stocky body and prominent bellies.
Scientifically known as yucca elata, the soaptree is a perennial plant indigenous to southwestern North America.
Native to Central and South America, peccaries are medium-sized hoofed mammals which bear a strong resemblance to pigs.
Olneya tesota, commonly known as desert ironwood, is a perennial flowering tree found throughout the southwestern arid regions of the U.S.
These common venomous snakes are characterized by their long, hollow fangs, which are used to inject venom into their prey.
Elephant tree, scientifically known as Bursera microphylla, is a species of tree indigenous to southwestern U.S. and southwestern Mexico.
This shrubby cactus is identified by its irregular, segmented, drooping branches which are covered with a dense layer of sharp spines.
This predatory canine is found throughout North America, specifically Panama, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.
The saguaro is a tall, tree-like species of cactus spotted in the arid regions of North America such as the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.
This species of cactus owes its nickname to its appearance which consists of several long, thick stems which grow vertically from a single short trunk.
Indigenous to the Americas, this venomous snake is easily identified by the rattle located at the end of its tail.
Brittlebush, scientifically known as Encelia farinosa, is a common desert shrub characterized by brittle branches, silver-gray leaves and small yellow flowers.
The antelope, a member of the even-toed ungulates, is a deer-like mammal indigenous to several regions in Africa and Eurasia.
Formerly known as Solifugae, camel spiders are an order of animals of the Arachnida class which are neither true spiders nor true scorpions.
Native to the United States, this beautiful shrub is noted for its gray-green leaves, deep blue flowers and purple bracts.
These large lizards are found throughout Africa, Asia and Oceania. They are characterized by their longs necks and powerful tails, limbs and claws.
This succulent plant, closely related to aloes, is easily identified by its rosette of thick leaves patterned with zebra-like stripes.
The caracal, native to Africa, Central Asia, Middle East and India, is a medium-sized wild cat noted for its reddish-tan or sandy coat and long tufted ears.
This even-toed ungulate is easily recognized by its distinct features; long legs, big-lipped snout and, depending on the species, one or two humps on its back.
The road-runner, two species of cuckoos, are fast running ground birds capable of reaching speeds of 20 miles per hour.
Native to South Africa, this species of succulent plant is identified by its rose-pink tubular flowers with green tips.
Meerkats are small carnivorous mammals of the mongoose family. Their coat comes in shades of sandy to light brown in with dark stripes patterned on their backs.
Due to its delicate and fine texture, this species of grass is frequently used for decorative purposes in gardening and landscaping.
The Gila monster is species of slow-moving, venomous lizards. Its skin is decorated in a bright pink and black pattern with round, bony scales.
This small rodent acquired its name due to its ability to hop on its hind legs much like a kangaroo. They are capable of leaping up to nine feet.
The desert lily is the only species of the Hesperocallis genus. It is characterized by its white, long petals with yellow bulbs in the middle.
Armadillos, native to the Americas, are small to medium-sized mammals with a leathery armor shell.
This succulent plant species grows in small, compact rosettes of short, thick green leaves streaked with white markings.
Pygmy owls are any of the 25 – 36 species of the genus Glaucidium. One such species, the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, can be found in Arizona and Mexico.
Aloe vera is a popular succulent plant which is grown for medicinal, decorative and agricultural purposes.
As its name suggests, this plant's appearance resembles that of a ghost; white with black flecks and pink coloration.
This Australian lizard is noted for its intimidating appearance, which comprises of rigid, thorny scales and a spiny faux head on the back of its neck.
Badgers are mammals of the family Mustelidae and are characterized by their short legs, wide bodies and distinct white markings on their black faces.
Spiny mice are a rodent species of the genus Acomys and are noted for their bare scaled tails and a fur coat endowed with stiff guard hairs.
Desert marigold, also known as baileya, is a member of the aster family identified by its yellow flower head.
Tumbleweed is a light rolling mass comprising of dead plant structure which is usually broken off at the stem or roots.
One of the members of the aster family, this flowering plant is identified its glandular stem, oval leaves with pointed tips and purple flower heads.
Native to the Sahara of North Africa, this nocturnal fox is easily identified by its unusually large ears, which help to keep it cool.
Ocotillo, also known as Fouquieria splendens, is a large shrub with long spiny stems, capable of growing up to 33 feet long.
The bearded dragon is a common name applied to any of the eight species of lizards of the genus Pogona.
Palo verde is the nickname attached to the genus Parkinsonia; a group of flowering plants characterized by its green trunk.
Prickly pear cactus, also known as Opuntia, is a genus in the cactus family which are native to the Americas.
Eagles are large birds of prey of the Accipitridae family. They are excellent predators due to their powerful head and beaks, sharp talons and broad wings.
Cobra is the common name of various venomous snakes. When in danger, these snakes will ward off prey by flaring the skin on their necks to form a 'hood.'