What is A Desert?

Antarctic is the largest desert in the world

You think I have put up a wrong picture?? When I said desert you would have imagined a hot uneven sandy stretch of land with piles of sand collected in some places – which is alright because that is how some deserts look like. But not all. Deserts can be rocky, sandy or an entire desert can be even covered with ice caps. Arctic and Antarctic are two such deserts that are totally covered with ice caps. Do you know that Antarctica is the worlds largest cold desert followed by Arctic while Sahara desert in Africa is the worlds largest hot desert.

Unbelievable isn’t it? So now you might want to actually think about what really a desert is.

A desert is a dry place that receives little or almost no rainfall. The temperature of the desert can be hot or cold. A lot of times the rocks in the deserts are unusually shaped by the high speed winds that carries sand along with it. Over a period of time wind wears away the rocks into strange shapes.

Desert rocks


Big mountain like piles of sands that get collected in a desert are called sand dunes.

A sand dune

Plants and animals in the desert cope up with the extreme dry conditions in their own unique ways. Plants store water in their leaves, roots and stems. Also most of them have small, spiky leaves so as to minimise the evaporation of water. That explains the pointy spikes of a cacti!!

Desert cacti with flowers

Fat Sand Rat, Fennec Fox, Gila Monster, Great Jerboa, Great Mouse Tailed Bat, Horned Lizards, Lappet Faced Vulture, Rattlesnakes Roadrunners, Sidewinder, Thorny Devil are some desert animals. Most desert animals stay hidden during daytime and venture out only when night falls and temperature is much lower. A camel can drink lots of water at a time only to store it in a special pouch inside its body. It can survive without water for days.

Desert Lappet faced vulture

Very rarely an Oasis is found in a desert. Oasis is a hollow space in desert where water collects from rain or some other water source. Plants grow around an oasis and there is often human settlement around an oasis if it is big enough.

Very small oasis in a desert

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