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Fur, feathers, scales, skin

1.5 Hours Per Group
Book Program
Year Levels


Australia is famous for its unique and diverse vertebrate animals. Scientists group animals into classes according to their features. One of the main characteristics that is used to distinguish one class of animals from another is the type of skin covering. Mammals have hair or fur, birds have feathers, reptiles have dry scales, amphibians have soft, moist skin, and fish have wet, slimy scales. This program focuses on the features of various Australian vertebrates and how their coverings and other adaptations help them to survive.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge is required. This can be a pre-visit, post-visit or a stand alone activity.

Key Learning Question

How does an animals outer covering help them to survive in their environment?

Learning Intentions

In this program, students will:

  • Distinguish between the different Australian vertebrate groups based on coverings
  • Compare and contrast features between the various Australian vertebrates
  • Understand the meaning of the terms ‘vertebrate’ and ‘camouflage’, and look at examples


Students will:

  • Use magnifying glasses to observe the coverings of various native animals
  • Identify structural and behavioural adaptations
  • Compare the similarities and differences between coverings
  • Predict the habitat based on the features observed and discuss how it can survive in this habitat

Victorian Curriculum

Science - Biological sciences

  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (VCSSU057)
  • Different living things have different life cycles and depend on each other and the environment to survive (VCSSU058)

Learning Continuum

The following Learning Continuum is a guide for teachers to show the links between the programs Ecolinc offers onsite, online and through outreach. The Learning Continuum can be used to access Ecolinc resources to support the development of units of work.

Outreach programs are conducted by an Ecolinc education officer at your school. They are available to moderately disadvantaged primary schools in the Geelong, Ballarat and western suburbs areas (or within 100km radius from Bacchus Marsh)