WONDERS OF DESIGN  #3

THE HYRAX: In a desperate attempt to produce a "horse series, " evolutionists decided that the hyrax is the "horse 's direct ancestor." More information has come to light on the hyrax. Since it is alive today, the hyrax has been carefully studied. The data on this little animal is astounding in two ways:

First, the hyrax could not possibly have evolved from anything else; it has too much high-tech design. It had to be produced by a supremely intelligent Creator.

Second, the hyrax could not possibly be the "ancestor" of the horse, for it has such totally different features. There are 9 species of Hyraxes; 3 are rock hyraxes, 3 are bush hyraxes, and 3 are tree hyraxes. We will here discuss the rock hyrax of Palestine and Syria, but the others have essentially the same features.

To begin with, the hyrax is a very small mammal. It is only 11 inches long and weighs only 9 pounds. In the Bible it is called a "coney" (Proverbs 30:26; the Hebrew word for it means "rock rabbit"). The hyrax looks somewhat like a small brown baby bear, with little round short ears. Its fur is short, coarse, and brown. But that is all it has in common with bears.

Intermingled in its fur are occasional long hairs, called "guard hairs" by scientists. They have a very special purpose, for this small animal must regularly pass through small openings. Before entering an area where it might become jammed and unable to back out, the guard hairs warn the hyrax not to go any farther. That little feature required advance planning, but there is more to come:

The legs of the hyrax are only 3 inches long. Scientists tell us that, in shape, its front legs resemble the bones of an elephant. They also tell us its brain is shaped like an elephant's brain. But those are the only points of similarity to the elephant.

The stomach of the hyrax is shaped like the stomach of a horse. Its feet are flat on the bottom, like those of a horse's hoof. But we will learn below that the foot of a hyrax is very, very different than the hoof of a horse. After carefully studying them, the experts have decided that the front teeth of the hyrax are similar to those of a beaver. The two upper front teeth of the hyrax are like those of typical rodents, such as the rat. When its mouth is closed, those two teeth still show, just as they do on a rat. But there is where the similarity ends.

The hyrax is so unusual in so many different ways. It is not classified with the rodents, but is categorized in its own family. Even those two upper, front teeth are not really the same, for, on a rodent they are flat, with a squarish chisel shape on the bottom. But on the hyrax they come to a sharp point.

Researchers next turned their attention to the upper cheek teeth of the hyrax, and found them to be like those of the rhinoceros. Then they decided to look at its lower cheek teeth and found they were like those of the hippopotamus! How could the Hyrax have such different upper and lower molars? Yet it does.

Then the scientists examined its eyes, and found they bulge in just the right amount to provide it with a sunshade. In other words, the hyrax has built-in sunglasses! It lives where there is a lot of midday sunlight, and it needed a way to reduce glare. So the Creator gave it sunglasses. This bulge is in the iris, which produces a sun visor effect, blocking out excess sun rays from entering the retina. This makes a light shadow, so that when the sun is overhead, less light glare enters the eye; but when the sun is closer to the horizon, the little creature has keen eyesight to spot enemies drawing near.

After carefully studying the hyrax (which is a mammal), scientists decided it was like no other mammal in the world! So they placed it in the hyrax family.

But what about those "horse's hoofs" which it has, which make it the supposed "ancestor" of the horse? If you were to sight a hyrax through binoculars, it would appear to be running about on small horse-like hoofs, because they are flat on the bottom. But with that the similarity ends.

Closer examination of those "hoofs," by a competent biologist, shows them to be unlike any other mammal feet in the world! To begin with, each front foot has 4 toes, with short nails. Each nail is in the shape of a semicircular hoof. Each hind foot has 3 small toes, and the middle toe has a curved claw. That claw is used to comb its fur.

But now we come to something totally unique. The hyrax is the only mammal with suction cups on the bottoms of its feet! It is this suction-cup feature, which gives it the appearance of having "hoofs." There are thick pads on the bottom of its front and hind feet. These work like high-tech pavement-gripping tires! The hyrax uses them to grip the surfaces it is running on.

There is a gland in the bottom of each foot that releases moisture. As you know from your own experience with suction cups, they work best after being moistened. Wet a suction cup and press it down-and it can really stick! The moisture helps the foot suction cup to grip tight, for air is trapped inside to form an airtight seal. Once the foot is pressed down, some of the air initially escapes-and the partial vacuum which results clamps the foot to the surface it is on.

With these suction-cup feet, the little hyrax can run up the vertical sides of rocks, or smooth-barked trees. But, wait a minute! If the foot clamps tight to a surface, how can that foot be lifted off again? Once the seal is made, the little creature should not be able to move, much less walk or run.

Fear not; careful preplanning solved all such problems before the first hyrax came into being: A small muscle was placed on the bottom of each of the hyrax's four feet. That muscle can push down-but only in the center of the foot. When that happens, the vacuum is eliminated, and the seal broken. Then the foot can be raised.

When the foot is set down again, the muscle is raised and the vacuum seal is again made. The brain of the hyrax has been designed so that it can send extremely fast signals to those four foot muscles so that they raise and lower those foot muscles in perfect coordination. Because of this, the hyrax can run very fast. In conclusion, let us consider three additional features about the hyrax:

First, this little fellow is the only cold-blooded mammal in the world! This means that the hyrax constantly changes body temperature in relation to the temperature of the air and surfaces around it. Its body temperature regularly changes 11F. between night and day. At night, it crawls into rocks, earth, or tree holes and hibernates till morning.

Second, the hyrax has two appendixes. What other animal has that many?

Third, the hyrax has no gall bladder.

After seriously considering the biology of the hyrax, why should anyone be foolish enough to suggest that this unusual creature could be the ancestor of the horse or anything else?

 LATERAL LINE OF FISH: As fish speed through the water, not only must they see ahead, they must also be able to watch what is coming toward them from the side. It is the lateral line which is their sideways "eyes." In fact, it is equivalent to a whole row of eyes! And it operates something .like radar. But, instead of sending something out to bounce back, the lateral line constantly senses pressure waves. This line was mentioned in chapter 24, but here is more information on this natural wonder:

Many fish have a horizontal row of cells midway on their sides. This line of cells is frequently a slightly different color, so you can often see it on fish that you view in an aquarium. These special cells sense pressure differences in the water. The lateral line senses the presence of a fish coming from the side, and sends messages to the fish's brain. A map is "seen" in its tiny brain. Scientists, testing the power of this line, have discovered that a fish can even tell whether the oncoming creature is a friend, enemy, or a prey to be caught.

PATTERN FOR A PALACE: Earlier in life, Sir Joseph Paxton was the head gardener to the duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. Paxton was the first person in Europe to successfully transplant and grow the giant South American water lily, Victoria amazonica. The leaves of this plant are up to 7 feet across, and Paxton was astounded by the fact that a child could walk on them. How could this be?

Carefully studying the plant, Paxton found that it was the arrangement of the ribs beneath the leaf's surface which gave it such immense structural strength. Years later, in preparation for the Great Exhibition of 1851, Paxton stepped forward and declared he could design a durable glass house of mammoth size; and he did it. Applying the principles revealed in the supports of that water lily leaf, he built the Crystal Palace-a vast structure of glass and iron-in Hyde Park, London to house the complete exhibition. The ribs and struts of the roof of that immense building were copied from the water lily. (Moved after the exhibition to south London, the structure withstood the elements for nearly a century, but was destroyed by fire in 1936.)

BIG SEEDS AND LITTLE: All the genetic information needed to produce an entire plant or tree is to be found inside its seeds. It is a miniaturized marvel. Of the regular plants, the orchid has the smallest seeds in the world. They are about 0.01 inch long and so light that a million of them weigh only 0.01 ounce. Each orchid seed capsule holds up to a 20,000 seeds. .

The giant double coconut of the Seychelles is the largest seed, and weighs up to 45 pounds. 

EUROPEAN EEL RETURNS HOME: The Sargasso Sea is an immense patch of water in the tropical Atlantic, which is filled with a variety of seaweed and small creatures. It lies between Bermuda and the West Indies.

Among those who journey here are small eels. Upon arrival, they seem to know exactly what to do. Going to a depth of about 1 ,300 to 2,500 feet, they lay their eggs and then leave. The parent eels do not see their young and never give them any training. Soon after, the parents die.

In this deep, 20C cold, the eggs hatch into slender, transparent eels that look different than their parents. Even their fins are located in different places. Because of where the eggs were laid, the young are gradually carried eastward at a depth of 700 feet into the Gulf Stream. Northward it takes them, and on and on they are carried.

Scientists have dropped labeled logs into the ocean where the eggs are laid, and ten months later they arrive off the coast of Europe. The little eels make the same trip but, for some unexplained reason, do it in a year-and-a-half. But these little creatures are not logs! When the wood reaches Europe, it just keeps sailing on past down the coast. But when the eels reach that large continent, they know to go up just certain rivers, into certain tributaries, and thence into certain lakes the very ones their parents used to live in. Arriving in those lakes, the young will know to depart through certain streams, and finally go back to the same brooks where their parents lived for several years!

But let us return the time they arrive off the coast of Europe. When they reach the edge of the continental shelf, which may be several hundred miles from land, their bodies begin changing. Until now, they have not needed complicated swimming gear, for they were carried along by the Gulf current. But now, at just the right time, their bodies change. But why are their bodies triggered to do it just then?

Their leaf-shaped body narrows, they shrink a little in length, and grow pectoral fins. Soon they look like their parents, but are a little smaller and still transparent. With this change completed, something inside tells them they must invade Europe. They also know that they have so much work ahead of them for awhile, they must stop eating.

Some go into Britain, others into the Baltic, still others up the rivers of France, and others go through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Some go all the way to the Black Sea. Arriving at their appointed place by the coast, they know that they must now enter fresh water-and keep going. Swimming up the rivers, they remain within a yard of the bank, thus avoiding the rapid current out in the middle. Because they are transparent, they are unnoticed by most predators. Stubbornly persistent, they avoid waterfalls by wriggling through the sodden vegetation on the banks. When they enter lakes, their sensitivity tells them which feeder river to journey up.

After they have been in fresh water several months, they begin eating again. Now they grow to their full adult size and opaque appearance, with yellow backs and sides. They remain in these streams for several years, moving to lower, warmer streams in the winters and higher again in the summers.

Scientists have caught eels in a Scandinavian estuary, tagged and released them in another over a hundred miles away. Within weeks they had returned to their original feeding grounds. Others have been caught and taken several hundred yards away arid placed on the ground. They always know which direction to wriggle-in order to again return to the stream. This they do even when a rise in the ground obstructs their view and they have to wriggle upward to get over it.

After the males have been in the rivers for three years, and the females for eight or nine, they again change-this time from yellow to black.

 Very soon they will need to be as dark as possible in order to remain hidden. Their eyes enlarge-because, to do what is ahead of them, they will need much sharper vision.

And now, something tells them that the time has come.

Down they go-from stream to lake, and from lake to river; downward, onward-until they reach the sea. When placed in a pond at this time, they will wriggle out of it and cross dew-drenched fields in order to reach rivers that will take them to the ocean. They know they must return to the sea. But there the track was lost; what happened to them then? Recently, scientists embedded tiny radio transmitters beneath their skin. We now know that, arriving at the ocean, they swim away from the European coast in a north-westerly direction at a depth of about 200 feet until they reach the continental shelf. The seafloor then drops to 3,000 feet, and they quickly dive to about 1 ,400 feet. Then they swim away to the southwest.

A map of the Atlantic Ocean reveals that such a course will take them back to the Sargasso Sea where they were born so many years before. Six months later, their tiny radios shows them reappearing in the Sargasso Sea-3,500 miles from their little river streams.

But how did they know where to go? Even if they did know, how could they find their way to that location through oceans-which to them are uncharted. "Uncharted," I say, for people may have charts; but the wildlife does not. How then can they know where to go and how to get there? , Regarding the second question, researchers tried a number of experiments-and found that the eels may be guided by the stars in their initial ocean travels, as they swim near the surface till they reach the continental shelf. But what is their means of guidance after that? Try diving down to 1,400 feet into the ocean, and then figure out where to go. It is pitch black in those depths, and you could not see a compass even if you had one in your hand. Do they detect very low frequency vibrations from the waves overhead? Yet passing storm fronts bring continual confusion to wave motion on the surface.

So, arriving in the Sargasso Sea, they have now laid their eggs. Their young, when hatched, will never be taught by them the journey they must make, for no adult eel has ever traveled from the Sargasso Sea to Europe, or, arriving there, initially swam up its rivers. It is a trip that only their babies will make.

After so many years absence, the parents have returned to their birthplace. They have spawned and now they swim away and die. They have come to the end of their journey.

THE FIRST BALLOONS: Scientists tried to figure out how a pine tree in Scotland could be pollinated by another in Norway, on the other side of the North Sea. But experiments revealed that this was being done.

Analyzing pine pollen, they discovered that pine pollen can travel these immense distances on the wind because of a very unusual structural feature: Each pollen grain is buoyed up by two microscopic-sized balloons. Who decided to put those balloons on the pine seeds? Did the pines get together and vote that they would all change their pollen? If the pines did not do it, then who did? DNA studies reveal it could not have been a random change; it had to be planned by Someone, who then structured the DNA to make pollen that way.

TAILOR AND WEAVERBIRDS: The Indian tailor bird uses spider silk to sew the nest together! How could it possibly learn how to do that? After making a cup of living leaves, still on their stems, the bird holds some spider silk in its bill, pierces the leaf, and draws the silk through it. It finishes by tying a knot at the end of the silk. Can you tie a knot in a thread from a spider web? You can't do it? Then how can a little bird do it? Repeating the operation many times, the nest gradually takes shape as the two leaves are sewn together. Both the weaverbirds of Africa and the icterids of Latin America go a step further-and actually weave their nests. They make a fabric of grasses as they interlace the weft spears in and out of the parallel warp blades. The result is grass cloth! The fibers used are long creepers, thin rootlets, grasses, reeds, or strips torn from broad leaves, such as the banana.

In order to weave their nests, these birds need to know two complicated skills: weaving and knotting. Without a knot, the initial woven part will immediately come undone. If you were a bird, how would you tie a knot in a stem? Here is how the bird does it: First it flies with a long piece to a tree branch where it wants to make its nest. Then it holds part of it down on the branch with one foot. Next, with its beak it passes the end around the branch, threading it through the other, and pulls it tight. A series of half hitches are then tied at the end of this knotted end. By now, are you becoming confused? The bird isn't.

The bird then begins threading one strip beneath another that runs across it diagonally or at right angles. This is not easy work, but the bird persists. It never gives up. After each threading, the strip is pulled tight. If the strip is long enough, the bird will reverse direction of weaving and loop the strip back and interweave it parallel with itself. This looping-back procedure adds to the strength of the nest.

The result is woven nests which dangle from the tips of branches. These nests are not only single rental units, but also apartment complexes! Many of them have separate rooms in them-all carefully woven together.

"It's really nothing at all; just a product of random evolution," someone will say. Well, then, try making an apartment house out of woven grass! If you cannot do it, how do you think that tiny bird ever figure out the process, especially considering two facts:

(1) No one on earth ever taught it how to do such a process. Scientists took weaverbirds and raised them from incubator hatchings. Then they turned them loose in aviaries with trees and grasses. The birds knew how to make their woven nests.

(2) The brain of that bird is as small as the tip of your little finger, and could not grasp the instruction anyway. If you take exception to that conclusion, go out and catch a bird and teach it how to make knots and make interwoven nests. Many of these nests have waterproof roofs. How would you waterproof the roof of a woven grass circular bird nest? The bird does it by using wide strips of leaves on the top, and then carefully overlaying them so the water will run off.

When all that is done, there must be a way to keep out snakes. How would you accomplish that? Some species add entrance passages, which are long, woven, curved tubes. Seeing them, snakes give up and depart without trying to steal the eggs.

If, after constructing a nest, a weaverbird decides that it is not well-made, what does the little bird do? By that time our little craftsman must laboriously unravel it all and start over because there is not enough raw material around since other weaverbirds have taken their share. Carefully taking its nest apart, the little fellow puts it all back together again!

MOVING SLlME: The slime mold is an unusual life-form. Separate mold cells live on rotting wood. When the time comes for reproduction to occur, the cells push together and form a single organism. Where there were millions of separate creatures, now suddenly there is one. Scientists are trying to decide the trigger mechanism that tells the cells when to push together. Thousands of neighboring mold cells form a single unit about 2 inches across.

This strange new creature-which was not there before-looks something like a jellied slug. But, to add to the mystery, it can now move even though the separate cells could not. In the few hours that it exists, it moves about 12 inches toward the light.

Arriving at a new location, which will be more favorable for the growth of the stalk, it sprouts up, forms spores, and the wind carries them away. When they land, they form separate stationary cells.

As soon as the spores depart, the parent organism dies.

AFRICAN HONEY GUIDE: This bird is the size of a robin and lives in east Africa. Although it eats all kinds of insects, it is especially fond of honeybee grubs. But getting them is not so easy. The wild bees of Africa are dangerous, and live in secluded areas. Although the honey guide has a way of finding them, it does not dare enter the hive  unaided. Even if it could drive off the bees, its slender, delicate bill could not penetrate their nests, which are in hollow trees or clefts of rocks. So it gets a friend to help with the task.

In northern Kenya, for example, men from the Boran tribe make money selling honey. A tribesman goes out into the countryside and claps his hands, whistles in a certain way, or blows across a snail shell or through a seed with a hole in it. If a honey guide is not far off, it will generally appear very quickly and sing a special chattering call which it never otherwise uses. When sure that the man's attention has been caught, it flies off with a low swooping flight which is easy to follow. As it flies, its tail feathers are spread wide, so that the white outer feathers are clearly displayed. The man follows, whistling and shouting to let the bird know he is coming.

Then the bird disappears for a few minutes, and then returns, perches, and calls for the man to come. As the two travel together, the bird gradually lands on lower and lower branches until, after about 15 minutes, its song changes to a low, less agitated one. It repeats it two or three times, becomes quiet, and flies over to a perch where it sits quietly. As the man approaches, he can see that the bird is sitting very close to the entrance of a bees' nest.

A stream of bees is moving in and out of the nest, and the man carefully draws closer and sets a small fire just upwind from the nest. This stupifies the bees and he opens the nest and extracts the combs, dripping with rich deep-brown honey. He hangs up part of the honeycomb for the bird. The bird flies to the remains of the nest and eats the fat, white beegrubs, and also some of the honeycomb wax. The honey guide is one of the only animals which can digest beeswax.

Scientists have spent months observing the honey guide in action. Disguised in animal skins, so it will not see them, they have found that this little bird knows the location of every beehive in its territory-and frequently checks to see their condition. On cold days, it hops up to them and peers in. On hot days, it notes the general amount of activity, as the bees go in and out. When the bird begins to guide the man, and then disappears for 15 minutes, it has flown off to be sure it is leading the man to a good, active hive. Then, after leading the man to the nest, if he does not immediately set to work to open it, the honey guide gives its special call and sets out to lead the man to another nest.

Who taught the honey guide to lead people to bees nests? Who taught it the procedure to follow? Who gave it that low, swooping flight and the white signal feathers in the tail? Who told the bird to be quiet when it comes close to the nest-so the bees will not sting it to death? Who gave the bird the ability to digest beeswax?

The honey guide also leads animals to bees nests. The ratel is a badger-sized animal that is actually an African skunk. Also called the honey badger, it has black underparts and white on top, and likes honey. The honey guide behaves in the same manner with the ratel that it does with a human. Arriving at the nest, the ratel sprays the area beneath the nest with a fluid which stupifies the bees, and then the rateI sets to work. It is both a powerful digger with strong forelegs, and narrow enough that it can squeeze into small openings. Soon it has the nest torn open, and it takes its share and leaves some for the waiting bird.

 FALLING LEAVES: Why do broad-leaf trees in colder areas shed their leaves in the fall? They do it in order to survive the winter. Much of the water in the ground will, at times, become frozen, so the tree would not be able to draw it up the trunk. Since the leaves need-and lose-more water than other parts of a tree, their absence in winter allows the tree to conserve moisture. Trees covering an area of 100 square feet need more than 20 tons of water a day to thrive. The same number of non leaved trees need only a fraction of that amount.

But coniferous evergreen trees, such as the pine and fir, can survive the winter without shedding their greenery because their narrow needles are so very small and lose very little water through evaporation. Those needles often have a glassy layer that helps reduce loss through evaporation.

The broad-leaf trees shed their leaves in the fall and the leaves cover the ground, protecting it from winter's ravages. The ground does not freeze as hard beneath those leaves. The conifer sheds its needles also; but, since they rot more slowly, they also protect the ground.

FLASHING TREES OF MALAYSIA: In Malaysia and Borneo at dusk, the fireflies come out for several hours. You can journey out in the evening into the mangrove swamps, and you will see a remarkable sight. Scattered flashes begin to blink among the trees. Arcs of light appear as fireflies move across one's line of vision. Minute by minute, their numbers increase. Gradually the lights gather on the limbs and branches of a certain tree, and soon the entire tree sparkles and flickers. Then, as you watch, the confusion of flashes begins to resolve itself into a steady onoff pattern of light-as thousands of fireflies coordinate their light show and blink on and off together.

Not all the mangrove trees are used by the fireflies for this purpose. Some have tree ants which eat insects which land on them. The fireflies know to avoid such dangers, and only go to safe locations to perform their displays.

Researchers have decided that the pulse rate of flashes is so rapid that the fireflies could not possibly coordinate it visually. Instead, they must have some kind of internal metronome which beats so accurately that, once they are locked in together, they can continue on in perfect unison.

To add to the problem, their pulse rate of flashing varies slightly with the temperature (the colder the evening, the slower the rhythm), yet each firefly, in his little body computer, duplicates this factor also. By coordinating their flashing, the light from these creatures can be seen a quarter mile away.

A WORLD OF INSECTS: Biologists tell us that, without insects, we could not survive on this planet. The great majority of insects help, rather than harm, both us and our food supply. And there surely are a lot of insects out there!

An acre of average pastureland contains an estimated 360 million insects. There are about 1 million different types of insects. At least three-quarters of the known animal species in the world today are insects. There are more than a million insects for every man, woman, and child. The world's insect population weighs about 12 times as much as the total human population.

We are told that if the spiders were to disappear, the people would be gone within five years. One reason is that spiders are outstanding insect hunters.

TIMING THE FIRE: The fungus Mycaena luxcoeli, which grows on the Japanese island of Hachijo, can be seen in the dark from 50 feet away, gleaming like little lanterns.

There is a bay near Parguera, Puerto Rico called Phosphorescent Bay, which has the glow of millions of tiny marine plants called Pyrodinium. Another puzzle is this: Why do all these glowing plants-as well as the glowing insects and fish too-only glow or sparkle at night? Obviously, the glow is only useful in the dark, but how can the Pyrodinium, which is a type of plankton can be smart enough to only glow at night? (Plankton consists of the smallest plants and animals in the ocean; it is that which makes ocean water greenish.)

A Designer is doing the thinking, and the glowing plants, insects, and fish only do what they are instructed to do.

FISH: BIG AND LITTLE: The Great Designer was not limited when He planned for fish. The largest is the whale shark at more than 60 feet in length. The whale shark is a placid creature, feeding on plankton.

The smallest fish in the world is the dwarf pygmy goby, a freshwater fish found in the Philippines. It can be less than 0.3 inch long when fully grown, is about 5 billion times smaller than the whale shark. Yet it has all the vital organs that the whale shark has. (Whales are larger still, but since they are mammals, they are not classified as fish.) 

PROTECTING THE NEST: The Mexican fly, Ufulodes, lays a batch of eggs in clumps on the underside of a twig, then moves farther down the twig and lays another clump. But this second batch has no eggs in it. It is a brown fluid with smaller, club-shaped kernels. This fluid neither hardens nor evaporates, but remains liquid for the three or four weeks till the eggs farther up the twig hatch. Along comes an ant, searching for food, and runs into the brown liquid. Touching it, the ant jumps back, cleans itself frantically and leaves.

The blacksmith plover lays its eggs in the hot savannahs of east Africa, where there is little vegetation to shade them. In the heat of the day, the plover does not set on the eggs, but instead stands with outstretched wings to shade them from the sun.

In Australia, a jabiru stork gathers food in the morning and late afternoon. During the hot midday hours it occupies itself flying to a pond, filling its beak with water and then spraying the water on its eggs to cool them off.

NATURE'S WATER TANK: There are rogs which apparently have been in rocks for a very long time. Frogs can survive a long time in suspended animation, if they have water and are in a watertight place.

In central Australia, there is a little frog which lives in non-watertight locations for 5 or 6 years without water. The water-holding frog (Cyclorana platycephalus) comes out of its underground den when it rains. Immediately it eats and then drinks water. Rather quickly it absorbs a lot of water as much as 50 percent of its own weight. During this time it feeds and mates. The eggs, laid in pools, hatch quickly, and the tadpoles grow rapidly. Within a few weeks-faster than most species of frog-they too are frogs. Then all the frogs burrow into dens in the sand beneath this desert country .

No more rain will fall for years. The frogs then wait, without moving. Five or six years later the rain may return, and out they come again.

RICH NOURISHMENT:The milk given to a baby elephant seal pup is one of the richest, most nourishing milks to be found anywhere. It is 12 times as rich in fat and 4 times as rich in protein as the best Jersey cow's milk.

Why is the milk so rich? The answer is that the pup will only receive milk for three weeks. Once again, we see evidence of careful advance planning.

As soon as the pup is born, it begins guzzling milk. At birth it weighed about 40 kilos. Within a week, it puts on another 9 kilos. After 3 weeks, it has tripled or quadrupled its weight. Much of the increase in weight was added blubber. But now, suddenly its food supply is cut off.

The mother has not eaten for those three weeks, and must return to the sea for food. Unlike the whale, she is not able to nurse her baby in the ocean where her own food is to be found, and so the pup henceforth will be on its own.

After the departure of its mother, the little seal will stay on the beach for another 6-8 weeks, eating nothing, developing organs, all the while living off the blubber made by that three-week milk supply.

If it is a male, when the little seal grows up, it will be the biggest of all seals: 14 feet long and weighing 2.5 tons!

LOOKING YOUNG: The axolotl salamander of Mexico can for years look like an adolescent; that is, if it stays in water. It keeps its feathery external gills and a larval, tadpole-like shape. But it can also breed, as though it were an adult.

But if the year comes that the water in the pond dries out, then the axolotl will very quickly grow up. It will change into a salamander and its gills will disappear. In their place it will have lungs.

OUTWITTING THE MILKWEED ; Most everyone leaves the milkweed alone. This is because, when damaged, it immediately exudes a milky sap which has a bitter taste and clogs the stomach. Even cows, deer, and horses avoid it. But certain creatures, which could not possibly figure out such devices by themselves, know how to outwit the milkweed.

Certain beetles, landing on a leaf, immediately bite through the midrib. The latex, flowing from the wound, drips to the ground. Beyond it, the beetle eats the tender leaf.

Some caterpillar species not only sever the midrib veins, but also gouge out a circular trench on the underside of the leaf, with only a few bridges holding it together. Then they feed inside this area.

The caterpillars of the monarch butterfly feed on the milkweed without taking any of these precautions. They have a genetic immunity to the poison of the milkweed. More than this, as they eat it, some of the poison is stored in their tissues. This poison remains, even after they change into butterflies. If a bird tries to eat them, the taste is so bad that it never again bothers a monarch.

BIG-MOUTHED PIGEON: The green imperial pigeon can unhitch its lower beak and expand its mouth not only vertically but horizontally. Having done this, it can then swallow a nutmeg that is slightly larger than its own head! The seeds remain in its gizzard for a long time while the rind is dissolved off and the insides digested.

RUNNY-NOSED BIRDS: That is what seabirds are always like: runny-nosed. This is because they have special salt-processing glands in their heads. The glands discharge a highly concentrated salt solution into the nostrils, from where it drips back into the sea. With such a built-in desalination plant, seabirds never need to drink fresh water. They extract all they need from seawater.

Without such a system, no bird could live in the oceans and seas. Large doses of salt are poisonous, leading to dehydration, overloaded kidneys, and a painful death.

But wait! If birds have such a simple, highly successful system for eliminating salt from drinking water, why do we not copy it? The problem of extracting salt from seawater is one of the leading challenges of mankind. Fresh water is urgently needed all over the world. Transporting it is less of a problem than extracting the sea salts from it. The problem is the high cost of the desalination plant. Yet, not only is the system used by birds a proven success, but it is also extremely miniaturized, and costs the bird nothing. It requires no fuel oil, high-voltage electricity, coal, or propane.

If a bird can do it, surely we can make equipment that do it also. Any competent evolutionist will tell you that the bird did it totally by accident. Then, by careful thought, we ought to be able to do it just as efficiently and inexpensively.

CHOPSTICK FINGERS: The aye-aye is a rare lemur that lives on the island of Madagascar. The middle fingers on its front paws are so thin and elongated that they resemble chopsticks. The aye-aye uses them to eat with-by dipping them one at a time into the pulp of fruit, and then lifting the finger to its mouth and sucking off the juice. It drinks water the same way. Its other food is wood-boring insects. The aye-aye chews through the wood till it reaches the insect, which it then pulls out with one of those long fingers.

RADAR JAMMING AND STEALTH PLANES: As the little bat flies through the darkness, its sonar squeaks giving its brain a picture of what is ahead as it searches for flying insects.

But the moth (apparently, all moths) can hear its high-pitched squeak from 100 feet away. This is an advantage, since the bat can only receive echoes from 20 feet. Intercepting the bat signals, which tell it that the bat is drawing near, the moth knows that it must suddenly go into a free fall. Why does it know that a bat squeak means imminent death? Once a moth is swallowed by a bat, it cannot warn its offspring. Until it is swallowed, it cannot know the danger is there.

But now the little moth is falling for its life, and its only hope of safety is to suddenly drop to the ground. But the bat may catch the falling moth in its sonar. Going after the moth, the bat comes closer. But the moth resorts to aerobatics, and flits this way and that. It only has a few feet to go before reaching the protective ground.

Some tiger moth species have a sonar jamming device. This is an ultrasonic sound that throws the bats off course. Using some of the techniques employed by the millions-of-dollars stealth plane, the tiger moth makes it to safetyas the bat heads off toward where he thought the return echo was coming from.

Can the U.S. military use a cheaper stealth bomber? (It is presently the most expensive plane in the world!) Go to the tiger moth and ask him . how he does it. He never paid a dollar for his equipment. He didn't think it up either; it was given to him.

IMPRINTING: Imprinting was first named and described by the Austrian naturalist, Konrad Lorenz. Certain animals will go to the first fair-sized, moving creature they see after being born. It is usually their mother, but it could be another animal or even a human being.

Because of this trait, ducklings automatically follow their mother  to the pond and swim after her. They followed the first large moving thing they saw after being hatched. Among mallard young, imprinting occurs precisely between 13 and 16 hours after coming out of their shells. People who have raised waterfowl have discovered that, if the ducklings first see their green rubber boots, they will thereafter follow those boots until they grow into adult ducks.

The imprinting cue can be a sound instead of a sight. The mother wood duck speaks to her young while they are still in their shells. Then when they hatch, she jumps out of the hollow tree, high above the ground, where the nest is located-and calls to them from the ground. In response, the tiny things jump out of the hole, fall to the ground and follow her into the pond. This is also the result of imprinting. Earlier, back in the hole, it was too dark for them to know what she looked like, but they knew her voice.

Greylag geese, rails, coots, and domestic chickens respond with visual imprinting cues.

In Africa, the female ostrich lays the eggs and the male sets on them. When they hatch, the young imprint to the father. As he travels across the fields, they all follow him. When other orphaned young see him, they hurry over and follow him also. Observers have seen male ostriches with as many as 60 young; by their age differences, they show that they are from at least 3 or 4 different broods.

Then there are baby shrews. They are born in litters of 6 or so. After imprinting to their mother, they remain close by her side. When danger threatens, she sounds an alarm and begins running. Instantly, one seizes the fur at the base of its mother's tail, gripping it firmly in its jaws. Just as quickly, another baby does the same, and within a few seconds, the wild train of shrews is running away at full speed-all connected. It looks like a furry snake gliding fast through the grass and brush. As they go, they keep in perfect step. Even if you were to pick up the mother (which you will be wise not to do without very thick gloves), the babies would continue to hang on. Arriving at a place of safety, the mother signals again and the train uncouples and they return to foraging for food.

In South Africa's giant Kruger National Park, there is an elephant that thinks it is a buffalo. In the early 1970s five baby elephants, raised by a veterinarian, were released in the park close to a herd of buffalo.,

Game rangers later reported that one of those young elephants had imprinted upon the buffalo.

  It had Joined the herd and was adopting buffalo habits. Traveling in a herd of 20 buffalo, the elephant has been seen drinking with them at a waterhole. A herd of elephants draws near and the elephant runs off with the buffalo. It has also been seen trumpeting and bellowing in an effort to drive lions away from a waterhole where its family of buffalo are watering.

MORE ON THE HUMMER: the ruby-throated hummingbird makes a twice-a-year migration, each of which is a nonstop 500-mile flight between North America across the Gulf of Mexico to South America.

But it has recently been discovered that the ruby-throated hummingbird is not able to make that trip. It is just not possible, scientists have concluded. We know they must be right, for they used the latest equipment, metabolic studies, and computer analysis. The ruby-throated hummingbird is only 0.1 ounce in weight, and the conclusion of the experts is that it cannot possibly store the amount of nourishment required for the trip. Metabolic tests reveal the bird is simply too small to carry enough fuel.

Of course, the little bird does not concern itself with the announcement that the scientific world has declared it cannot cross the Gulf of Mexico. It just keeps doing it anyway-twice each year. Fortunately, the scientists have not yet applied their metabolic tests to migrating butterflies. It is probably best that they not do it. The news might frighten the poor creatures into no longer migrating. Using their own wing power, many species of butterflies can travel up to 600 miles without a refueling stop. Some have even been known to fly 'right across the Atlantic Ocean from North America to Europe, backed by the driving force of prevailing westerly winds.

THE NOSE HAS IT: The dog has an amazing sense of smell. This makes up for their poor eyesight. A dachshund, for example, has about 125 million smell-detecting cells in its nose. A human being has only 5 million. A German shepherd dog has 230 million, making its sense of smell more than a million times more sensitive than a human's. A bloodhound has a sense of smell which is equal to that of the German shepherd. There must be genetic factors in the odors we produce. George Romanes, in 1885, showed that skilled tracker dogs could differentiate between anything, except identical twins. To the dog, the twins smelled exactly the same.

By the way, dogs also have good hearing. They can hear high-pitched sound frequencies of up to 40,000 vibrations a second. A human being can not go beyond 20,000 vibrations per second.

EARS ON ITS FEET: The amazing ichneumon fly walks on the bark of trees and somehow knows just where to begin drilling for wood wasp larvae inside the tree. We noted with amazement the mystery of how this tiny creature is able to know where to begin drilling, and then is able to actually do it-using what appears to be a delicate, long antennae to do it. But now we know how it locates the larvae; the ichneumon can hear and smell through its feet. Yet that solution only leaves us with more mysteries. How can this creature hear or smell a creature so far below it in solid wood? For you to do it would be equivalent to walking on the ground and hearing/smelling a gopher digging nine feet below you!

MELON OF THE PORPOISE: The porpoise also has a sonar system. He is discussed in chapter 32. Here is more information on that system:

A porpoise needs to be able to make special sounds, but how can he make them underwater? We cannot talk underwater, so how could a porpoise do it? He doesn't; instead, he produces soar clicks by forcing air through special passages and sinuses in his head. These are focused into a beam of sound which flows out in front of him. The oval, fat-packed organ-called the melon-which forms a bulge on his forehead, does the focusing. Without the carefully-shaped melon, the porpoise could not use sonar.

As many as 700 clicks a second are made by the melon, which is a sound lens producing a sonic "searchlight," with which the porpoise scans the oncoming water path. Using these sounds, the porpoise is able to tell the distance to an object, its shape, texture, and movement. Scientists have found that a porpoise can tell the difference between a tin can full of water and one that is empty, and also between rock in the distance and flesh.

CIRCULAR FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN: They may fly in circles, but they are not confused. Puffins spend most of their time fishing in the open seas of the north Atlantic, but each spring they nest. Within a space of two or three days, a million and a half puffins arrive at the island of St. Kilda in the Scottish Hebrides. No one can explain how these little birds-vast numbers of them scattered all over the ocean-know to arrive together at the same time to this small island. How can the bird even find its way across trackless oceans to this one tiny spot in the seas?

But, at the same time, the greater black-backed gulls arrive also. They also come to nest, and eat puffins.

The little puffin-which is a very colorful bird nests in holes on the steep grassy cliffs of the island. They are safe until they flyaway from the entrances to their holes.

But they must fly in order to feed while setting, and later when the chicks hatch. At this time of year, there is an abundance of fish in the ocean about them, but getting safely to it and back is the problem. Once they arrive out in the open sea, they not easy to catch, for they are swift in the air, turn quickly, and have strong wings. Even if a gull outmaneuvers them, they can escape by diving below the surface of the water where the gulls cannot follow.

But during the trip to the ocean they are vulnerable, and on the way back, laden with fish for their young, they are also easier to catch. So the black-backed gulls wait for them in the air above the cliffs. Their goal is to catch a solitary puffin. If you were a small-brained puffin, how would you solve the problem? Frankly, you are a very intelligent human being and you probably have no answer either.

Could some highly-trained design engineers come up with a plan as good as this one: Scientists have discovered that, when animals are in herds and fish in schools, it is difficult for predators to catch them. The large numbers of moving objects tend to confuse the eye, and render it difficult to focus on one and catch it. The puffins apply this principle in a mind-boggling solution which no puffin-alone or in committee with others would ever be able to devise.

It is time for the little puffin to leave its nest, fly into the air and go out to sea to catch fish. Up into the air it goes-and overhead quickly flies into a gigantic living wheel!

Above this immense cliff, where all the puffins in the Atlantic breed each spring, is a huge aerial ring, half a mile across, filled with tens of thousands of puffins. All day long they fly in this circle above the cliff. Upon departing from its hole, a puffin immediately flies up into this circle and begins flying the giant wheel. At a random point out over the ocean, with a quick sideways dive, it leaves the wheel and quickly drops to the ocean's surface. Now it begins feeding, and here it is safe from the gulls. For its return flight, it cruises along the ocean's surface until it nears the cliff, then quickly flies up again into the wheel, and flies the great circle route back to a point above its nest, and then rapidly drops to the entrance hole of its nest.

What astounding planning! Scientists have observed that gulls rarely catch puffins circling in the wheel, and mainly catch those who are too slow in getting into it. The number and density of those flying in the wheel make it too difficult to catch one. Of course, the whole arrangement requires that the puffins all arrive and leave that island at about the same time. The entire pattern all works together, and took careful advance planning. That planning was done before gulls started catching puffins, otherwise there would be no puffins today. If this sounds like a farfetched story, go to the St. Kilda Island and watch the puffins flying in the wheel-and see for yourself how well this remarkable arrangement works.

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