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Comparative Animal Physiology

by Greg Crowther


This rap is an overview of four major themes of comparative animal physiology: structure vs. function, adaptation vs. acclimatization, conformity vs. regulation, and feedback control. It was written and performed for Biology 334B at the University of Puget Sound in the fall of 2002.


Structure and function reflect one another;
If you know one, you can guess the other.
With the lungs, the surface area is deluxe,
So the function may involve a diffusive flux.

It's comparative animal physiology.
(Comparative animal physiology.)
Structure and function are complimentary
In comparative animal physiology.

Evolution yields adaptation,
And short-term change is acclimatization.
If it's cold one day, you can't evolve,
But you shiver a lot, and the problem is solved.

It's comparative animal physiology.
(Comparative animal physiology.)
Change is induced environmentally
In comparative animal physiology.

Does my environment have the same traits as me?
There's regulation and conformity.
Marine invertebrates osmoconform,
But in freshwater, osmoregulation is the norm.

It's comparative animal physiology.
(Comparative animal physiology.)
Conform or regulate -- what's it gonna be?
It's comparative animal physiology.

In negative feedback, an error is sensed;
Then the body makes the error signal less intense.
If blood sugar's high, an alarm will sound,
And the insulin response will bring it back down.

It's comparative animal physiology.
(Comparative animal physiology.)
Feedback prevents catastrophe
In comparative animal physiology.

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) This rap says of the lungs, "The function may involve a diffusive flux." What does that mean?

(2) The rap says, "In freshwater, osmoregulation is the norm." Is it physiologically realistic to have exceptions to this rule? Why or why not?

(3) What organ is responsible for the insulin response to high blood glucose levels?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)