Early experience can change the structure of the body

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Utah State University Extension



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Why do animals eat certain foods and live in certain locations? Your first thought might be that they are born that way or it’s in their genes. While it is true that every animal is born with a set of genes that helps determine how it looks and what it needs to survive, genetics are only part of the story.

As an individual grows its body and physiology are shaped by experiences early in life. A calf reared on the shrub-dominated deserts of southern Utah is physically different from a calf reared in the marshes of Louisiana. Bison raised on shrub-dominated ranges in Alaska are physically different from bison raised on grasslands in Montana. Changes within the body enable animals to adapt to different environments.