Dear Researchers,

Congratulations!  You’re mission is to select an animal and investigate the topic thoroughly.  I will need you to collect information and report back to your fellow researchers about what you’ve found.   Well?  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get started!!!

Good luck,

Mrs. C J


Animal Research Report Checklist


Date completed by student

Teacher approval

*      My animal is________________________.




*      Complete graphic organizers and notes through research—use at least 3 sources




*      Write a rough draft—double-spaced with   6-7 paragraphs (see paper requirements)




*      Revise your paper—use writer’s workshop checklist




*      Edit your paper—use writer’s workshop checklist




*      Peer edit and revise your paper—use peer conferencing info in writer’s workshop notebook



*      Write your final copy—can be typed or handwritten, single spaced




*      Prepare a bibliography—must have at least 3 sources




Writing an Animal Report…

Getting Started:
rst, get to know about your animal. Read as much information about the animal as you can find. Try both the Internet and the library; try a good search engine, an encyclopedia, and individual books on animals.

As you're reading about your animal, take notes on key information, such as where your animal lives (its range), what type of biome it lives in (its habitat), how big your animal gets, what it looks like, what it eats, what eats it, how long it lives (if this is known), etc.

Topics to Research and Include in Your Report:
When you write your report, try to answer as many of the following questions as you can (unfortunately, not all of these things are known for all animals):

*      The Animal's Name: What does its name mean? Sometimes this will tell you something important or interesting about the animal. For example, platypus means "flat-footed." For some animals, there are special names for a baby, a male, a female, or a group. Also, list your animal's scientific name; this should consist of a capitalized genus name and a lower-case species name. For example, the platypus is Ornithorhynchus anatinus.

*      Anatomy/Appearance: What does your animal look like? How big is it? What shape is its body? What does an average one weigh? Does it have horns, antlers, fur, crests or claws? Describe the teeth, head, neck, tail, etc. How many legs does it have? Are its legs long or short? How many eyes and how many body parts does it have? Does it molt as it grows? Draw a picture if you can.

*      Locomotion: Can your animal move? If so, how does your animal move (does it walk, fly, jump, burrow, etc.)? Is it slow-moving or fast-moving? Why is this important to its survival? For example, most fast-moving animals are fast so that they can catch dinner (like the cheetah) or avoid becoming dinner (like the deer).

*      Diet: What does your animal eat and how does it get its food? Is it an herbivore (plant eater), carnivore (meat eater), omnivore (eating meat and plants), or something else? Is there something unusual in the way your animal eats? (For example, the flamingo sieves its food from mud while its head is upside down under the water.) Where is your animal in the food web (is it a top predator, like the grizzly bear, is it at the base of the food web, like krill, or is it somewhere in the middle)?

*      Habitat and Range: What type of biome does this animal prefer (does it live in the desert, swamp, tundra, deep sea, coral reef, tropical rainforest, pond, or other habitat)? Where in the world does it live? List the continent(s), country/countries, and/or smaller areas that it lives in.

*      Adaptations: What are the obvious adaptations of your animal to its environment? For example, the giraffe's neck is an adaptation for obtaining leaves that are high off the ground. It also has tough lips to avoid thorns on its main food source.

*      Life Cycle/Reproduction: Give information on the animal's life cycle and reproduction. For example, in the case of insects, list and describe each stage in the process of their metamorphosis. For a species of shark, describe whether it bears live young or lays eggs.

*      Behavior: Describe interesting features of your animal's behavior. For example: Is there evidence of herding or is it a solitary animal? Does it burrow underground? Does it hibernate, estivate, or migrate in cold weather? Is it nocturnal (most active at night)?

*      Defense/Offense: How does it defend itself (and/or attack other animals)? Does it use teeth, fangs, claws, armor, horns, antlers, pincers, poison, a stinger, muscles, a strong smell, and/or something else?

*      Enemies: What animals eat or otherwise kill your animal? For example, for caterpillars, birds eat caterpillars, but wasps also lay their eggs in the caterpillars (and this eventually kills the wasp's unwilling host).

*      Species Survival Status: Is this animal species in danger of extinction? If so, why? Has it lost habitat, lost a food source, or has it been overhunted?

*      Something Special: Is there anything special about this animal? This can often be the best part of the report, taking you off on interesting topics. For example, are there legends about the animal?

*      Classification: How is this animal classified and what animals is it closely related to? In the Linnean system of classification, organisms are classified into a Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and species. For example, elk are classified as follows: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Artiodactyla, Suborder Ruminantia (ruminants), Family Cervidae (the deer family), Genus Cervus, species C. elaphus (species names are often italicized and written in lower-case; the C. here refers to the genus Cervus).





Animal Report Requirements

Your research paper will be graded using the Oregon state writing scoring guide.  Use the outline below to organize your paper.

  1. Title page or heading that includes:  name of animal or title of paper, your first and last name, grade level, teacher’s name and date


  1. Final Paper:

*      Paragraph #1—Introduction (name of animal and state the main ideas your paper will cover) 

*      Paragraph #2—Research Animal Facts:  Description of the anatomy or what the animal looks like.  How does it move?  What does it eat?

*      Paragraph #3—Research Animal Habitat:  Where does it live (range)?  How does it adapt to its environment?  Include a detailed description of the habitat.

*      Paragraph #4—Research Animal Interactions:  What are the animal’s enemies or predators?  How does the animal protect itself?  How does the animal communicate?

*      Paragraph #5—Research Life Cycle or Reproduction:  How is the animal born? What do the babies look like?  How do the babies change as they grow?

*      Paragraph #6—Other Interesting Facts 

*      Paragraph #7—Conclusion (summary of what you have learned, survival status and any other opinions you might have about your topic


  1. Bibliography (citing references)



In addition to your report, you’ll also be completing the following activities:

*      Background science knowledge about animals and environments—completed in class

*      Animal Cereal Box Project—Using your research, you’ll create an artistic cereal box to advertise information about your animal.  This will be explained and completed in class.

*      Animal Commercial—Once you finish your cereal box project, you’ll use it to share your research findings with the rest of the class.  This will be an opportunity to advertise what makes your animal interesting and unique.




Bibliography Worksheet                          

Please fill this out as you complete your research.  You need to use at least three different resources

(Example: a book, encyclopedia, and a web site)


1.          Author: _________________________________________________________________

            Title: ___________________________________________________________________

            Place of Publication: ______________________________________________________

            Copyright: _______________ Publisher: ______________________________________

2.         Author: _________________________________________________________________

Title: ___________________________________________________________________

Place of Publication: ______________________________________________________

Copyright: _______________ Publisher: ______________________________________

ENCYCLOPEDIA (PRINT ONLY)                                                                      
1.          Author: _________________________________________________________________

Name of Encyclopedia: ____________________________________________________

Title of Article: ___________________________________________________________

Date of Publication: ________________________

Volume: ___________________

Pages Used: _______________________

1.          Author: _________________________________________________________________

Title of Article: ___________________________________________________________

Source of Article: __________________________________________________

CD-ROM Title: ____________________________________________________

Copyright Date: __________________________


INTERNET SITES (Author and copyright date are often missing)

1.       Title of Website:__________________________________________________________

URL (web address): _______________________________________________________

Author: _________________________________________________________________

Copyright Date: _____________________ Date you visited: ______________________                                    
2.         Title of Website:__________________________________________________________

URL (web address): _______________________________________________________

Author: _________________________________________________________________

Copyright Date: _____________________ Date you visited: ______________________                        
3.          Title of Website: _________________________________________________________

URL (web address): _______________________________________________________

Author: _________________________________________________________________

Copyright Date: _____________________ Date you visited: ______________________


1.          Author: _________________________________________________________________

Title of Article: ___________________________________________________________

Name of Magazine: _______________________________________________________

Date of Magazine: Month____________ Year _____________

Pages Used: ______________________                                                                                                                         
2.         Author: _________________________________________________________________

Title of Article: ___________________________________________________________

Name of Magazine: _______________________________________________________

Date of Magazine: Month____________ Year _____________

Pages Used: ______________________




Animal Bytes: Amphibians


What is an amphibian?

Amphibians are animals that live part of their lives in water and part on land. Amphibians are vertebrates, and are also ectothermic. They cannot regulate their own body heat, so they depend on warmth from sunlight to become warm and active. They also can't cool down on their own, so if they get too hot, they have to find a burrow or some other shade. In cold weather, they tend to be sluggish and do not move around much.

From tadpole to frog—metamorphosis

Young amphibians do not look like their parents. They are generally called larvae, and as they develop, they change in body shape, diet, and lifestyle, a process called metamorphosis. A frog is a good example, starting out as a tadpole with gills to breathe underwater and a tail to swim with. As it gets older it then develops lungs, legs, and a different mouth. Its eyes also change position and it loses its tail. At this point it is an adult frog, which spends most of its time hopping on land, rather than swimming like a fish in water.

Moist is best

Most amphibians have soft, moist skin that is protected by a slippery secretion of mucus. They also tend to live in moist places or near water to keep their bodies from drying out. Many adult amphibians also have poison-producing glands in their skin, which make them taste bad to predators and might even poison a predator that bites or swallows them. Some of these amphibians, like poison dart frogs, are brightly colored as a warning: Don't eat me, or you'll be sorry!

Three groups of amphibians

There are about 5,500 known species of amphibians, divided into 3 main groups: salamanders, newts, and mudpuppies; caecilians; and frogs and toads. The largest amphibian is the Japanese giant salamander Andrias japonicus, at 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and 140 pounds (63 kilograms), and the smallest is an Izecksohn's toad Brachycephalus didactylus that weighs just a few grams.


Animal Bytes: Birds


What is a bird?

Birds are vertebrates, with a backbone and skeleton, although some of the bones are hollow to keep the bird light. Their forelimbs have the same bones as the human arm, but they are highly modified to form the structure for wings. Some of the bones in the wrist and fingers are fused together for extra strength.

Fancy feathers

Like mammals, birds are endothermic, but they are the only animals that have feathers. Feathers are made of keratin. Each feather has a stiff, hollow center shaft with hundreds of side branches called barbs. Each barb has two rows of side branches called barbules. This structure allows air to gather in the feathers, making them lightweight and keeping the bird’s body heat from escaping.

Life begins in a nest

All birds lay eggs with hard, waterproof shells, which they create nests for. A nest may be just a scrape in the sand or an elaborate structure of twigs, leaves, and other gathered materials. Birds incubate their eggs until they hatch.Then the parents continue to care for their young, bringing food to the nest site as needed. The chicks of some bird species, like chickens, are already covered with down and can start finding their own food. They are called precocial. Other chicks, like robins, hatch with no feathers and are helpless, depending on their parents to feed them. They are called altricial.

A variety of birds

There are more than 8,800 known species of birds. The smallest is the bee hummingbird Mellisuga helenae, which weighs only 0.05 ounces (1.5 grams). The largest bird is the ostrich Struthio camelus, which can weigh up to 340 pounds (154 kilograms). The bird with the most feathers is the whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, which has more than 25,000 feathers. The bird that flies the fastest is the white-throated spine-tail swift Hirundapus caudacutus, at 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour), and the bird that lives the longest is the sulphur-crested cockatoo Cacatua galerita, which has been recorded to live more than 80 years.

Animal Bytes: Mammals


What is a mammal?polar bear w/cub

Mammals are vertebrate animals that are endothermic, have hair on their bodies, and produce milk to feed their babies. Many mammals give birth to live young that are small and helpless. Producing milk to feed them allows them to develop more slowly and spend time with the adults as they grow up, learning the skills they need to survive. Regulating their own body temperature and having hair of various thicknesses for protection has also allowed mammals to live in almost every habitat on Earth.

Monotremes—unusual mammals

There are three classes, or main types, of mammals: monotremes, marsupials, and placental mammals. Monotremes are the most primitive and there are only three species: the duck-billed platypus and two species of echidna. These mammals have hair and produce milk, but they also lay eggs. The eggs are leathery, similar to reptile eggs, and hatch into tiny young that are not well developed. The young cling to the fur on the mother’s belly and suck at her milk, which comes from pores in the skin instead of from a nipple.

koala w/joeyMarsupials—life in a pouch

Marsupials also have tiny, undeveloped young, but they grow inside the mother’s body instead of in an egg. When they are born, they climb up the mother’s fur to a pouch on her belly and settle inside. They latch onto a nipple and nurse almost continually until they have grown enough to emerge from the pouch. Some well-known marsupials are koalas and kangaroos.


3 bonobosPlacental mammals—just
like us!

Placental mammals are the largest group, and their young develop inside the mother’s body while attached to a placenta. This is an organ that gives them nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood, and it allows them to grow and develop to a more advanced stage before being born. Some examples of placental mammals are cats, bears, monkeys, and humans.

The large and the small

There are more than 4,000 species of mammals, which taxonomists classify into different groups based on characteristics like their body structure, the number and type of bones, and the number and arrangement of teeth. The smallest mammal is the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat Craseonycteridae thonglongyai, which only weighs 0.05 ounces (1.4 grams), and the largest is the blue whale Balaenoptera musculus, which can be 100 feet long (30.5 meters) and weigh 150 tons (136 metric tonnes). The largest land mammal is the male African elephant, which can reach 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) at the shoulder and weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,810 kilograms).


Animal Bytes: Reptiles


What is a reptile?

Reptiles are vertebrates, they have scaly skin that keeps their bodies from drying out, their young do not go through a larva stage like amphibians, but instead look like small versions of the adults when they hatch. Reptiles are ectotherms, so they must bask in the sun or find a warm spot to get warm and become active, and they must find shade or a cool spot to cool off. In cold conditions they become sluggish and don't move around much, and some enter a state of torpor or hibernation if it will be cold for a long time.

Reptile groups

There are four main groups of reptiles: turtles and tortoises; lizards and snakes; crocodiles and alligators; and the tuatara, the only species left from an ancient group of reptiles that goes back to the dinosaurs. Some reptiles spend most of their time in water, like crocodiles, alligators, turtles, some species of snakes, and some species of lizards. Many spend their time on land, and reptile species can be found in all types of habitats except polar ice and tundra.

Reptiles start life ready to go!

Most reptiles make nests or dig holes to lay their eggs in. Some then stay to guard the nest and even get the hatchlings started in life, like crocodiles and alligators and some species of snakes. But most mother reptiles leave the nest once the eggs are laid. The hatchlings are independent from the start, and must find their own food and shelter.

Reptile record-setters

There are more than 6,500 known species of reptiles. The heaviest is the saltwater crocodile Crocodylidae porosus, weighing up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms). The smallest is the dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus ariasae, measuring only 3/4 of an inch (19 millimeters). The longest snake is the reticulated python Python reticulatus, at up to 33 feet long (10 meters). The largest lizard is the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, weighing up to 175 pounds (80 kilograms) and measuring up to 10 feet long (3 meters). Tortoises have the longest life span in the reptile order; some can live more than 150 years.


Animal Bytes: Insects & Spiders

A very successful animal group

Insects and spiders are invertebrates, which means they do not have an internal skeleton and backbone. Instead, they have a hard exoskeleton on the outside, the top layer of which is known as the cuticle. The cuticle is made out of proteins and is very versatile. It can be thick and hard for protection, thin and soft for flexibility, and even stretchy for movement. It can be heavy or it can be light to allow for flight. It can be permeable, letting water or gases in and out, or it can be solid and waterproof. It can also be different colors. Your skin is different on different areas of your body, and an insect’s cuticle is, too, because it serves many purposes. Because the cuticle is so versatile, this main feature of insects has allowed them to become one of the most successful groups of animals on Earth.

Six- and eight-legged wonders

An insect’s body is divided into three main parts: the head, the middle section, called the thorax, and the end section, called the abdomen. A spider's body has two segments: a cephalothorax and an abdomen. Insects have a brain, a nervous system, a heart, a gut for digestion, and tubes called tracheae to breathe oxygen. They have two antennae and six legs, both of which have special organs on them to sense sound vibrations and movement and to "taste" and "smell" food (although they don’t have taste buds and noses like we do). Spiders have eight legs and, in general , have "simple" eyes instead of the "compound" eyes that give many insects much better vision.

Life cycle

Most insects, such as beetles, wasps, and flies, go through complete metamorphosis. They begin life as an egg that hatches to a larva. The larva eats, grows, and sheds, then turns into a pupa in which chemical changes take place. The final stage is changing into the adult insect, which is able to reproduce. In more primitive insects, such as grasshoppers and stick insects, another type of development is used. This process is called incomplete metamorphosis where the insect hatches from the egg as a miniature version of the adult. The insect continues to grow, and every time it molts it gets larger until it reaches adulthood.


Insects are divided into two main groups: the wingless insects like bristletails and silverfish; and the winged insects like dragonflies, cockroaches, grasshoppers, stick insects, beetles, flies, butterflies, ants, and bees. Many people think that spiders are insects—they are not. Spiders belong to a different group of animals called arachnids, which also includes scorpions. There are nearly one million known species of insects, and more are being discovered each year. However, many are also lost each year due to habitat destruction, and many of these we may never even have known existed.

Insects and spiders are everywhere!honey bee

Insects can be found in just about every type of habitat on Earth. Some cricket relatives live actively in snow, and there are beetles and cockroaches that live in the hot sands of deserts. Many insects survive harsh conditions by burrowing and remaining inactive, and some can even survive for years after being completely dried out—they revive when placed in water! Adult insects can range in size from less than 0.08 inches (0.2 millimeters) in tiny wasps to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in stick insects. The largest insects can weigh up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams). The largest spiders can weigh up to 3 ounces (100 grams). Did you know that there are more kinds of beetles in the world than any other type of animal, invertebrate or otherwise? And did you know that the weight of ants alone is roughly equal to the weight of all human beings on Earth?


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