Fictional Animal Systems Project

Last updated 2022-09-01

This assignment was developed from the article "The Fictional Animal Project: a Tool for Helping Students Integrate Body Systems". Adv. Physiol. Educ 41: 239-243 Blatch et al. 2017

In the year 2146, biodiversity is dangerously low and the United Nations has developed a machine that randomly creates animals with varying designs for body systems and other physiological aspects. One example is a homeotherm with unidirectional ventilation, an open circulatory system, an excretory system that secretes only, and an incomplete digestive tract. In order to better understand the animals created and their ability to adapt to their environments, you have been asked to render a detailed anatomical “blueprint” of these animals, provide their scientific name, describe the relationships between the animal's form and function, between function and environment and provide a detailed diagram of its life cycle. This information will need to be presented to the “Zoological Society” in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. Using a random generator your TA will assign your animal design combination during this week’s labs.

Learning goals:

  • Understand system integration
  • Recognize the effects of adaptations relevant to the environment
  • Consider potential trade-offs and physiological constraints.
  • Solid understanding of the various animal systems which occur in nature and how they influence one another
  • Understand the anatomy involved in each of these systems within their designated animal

The presentation should fit onto one poster paper (approximately 24X36) and include the following information via diagrams/images and/or verbally:

  • Blueprint of your animal; a detailed diagram of your organism including all systems and their relevant structures. Flow/current direction within the relevant systems should also be indicated. Remember to include a diagram of the exterior of your organism
  • The scientific name of your organism
  • A description of your animals’ structure and function:
    • The description should align with your diagram
    • Describe each system and how it works and be sure to include all structures relevant to that system
    • Describe how each system interacts with each other
  • A description of the habitat your organism would be found in how its structures are adapted for that environment
  • Detailed drawing of your organism’s life cycle to include;
    • Any forms it takes on at the different stages of its cycle
    • What part of the life cycle is haploid and diploid
    • Where mitosis and meiosis occur
    • Sexual or asexual reproduction

Examples of types of questions to think about when working through your report:

  1. Does the circulatory fit with the respiratory system? Why or why not? Your explanation cannot be only because the combination exists in a real animal. Use your diagram to help you figure it out.
  2. Does my organism’s digestive system fit with the excretory system? Why or why not?
  3. What might be an adaptive advantage of the combination of the systems you were assigned?
  4. What might be an adaptive disadvantage of the combination of the systems you were assigned?
  5. What constraints might be placed on the physiological process of each system by the combination of anatomic structures found in your animal?

Additional instructions for the final project:

Describe an environment it would thrive in. Be specific. Explain why the animal thrives in that environment.