WONDERS OF DESIGN - # 2
EAR MUSCLES OF THE BAT:
Although they have good eyesight, it is wellknown that bats fly by sonar. They emit highfrequency sounds which the human ear cannot hear. The returning echo of those sounds places "sound-print" pictures in their minds. Using this technique, a bat can "see" and catch a tiny, fastflying insect.
But there are more wonders here than we would otherwise have imagined: A bat can vary the pitch of that sound. The higher it is, the smaller the surface its echo can reveal. Some sounds are so high that they can enable the little bat to detect the presence of a wire no thicker than a human hair stretched across its pathway.
Then there is the intensity of that sound. The louder it is, the more distant the object that can be detected. So these calls are generally loud; so loud, in fact, that they would strike our ears as though they came from air‑hammers, except that, by design, they are so high‑pitched that we cannot hear them. God designed these noises, as loud as a pneumatic drill, to be in a range which would be soundless to us.
But wait! If it is necessary for a bat to make such a loud sound, in order to have it echo back from a distant object, how can the bat possibly hear the echo with its ears, in the midst of all the racket it is making with its mouth?
This is a good question, for it would, indeed, be a very real problem. The ear of the bat was designed to be extremely sensitive, so that it can hear very faint sounds. Yet just a few of its screams would quickly deafen it!
The Designer solved this problem also: There is a special muscle in the middle ear of the bat. It is attached to one of three tiny bones which transmits the vibrations of the eardrum to the tubular organ in the skull that converts them into nerve signals sent to the brain. Just as each scream is on the verge of being emitted, this muscle instantly pulls back that bone, so that it does not transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. The eardrum is momentarily disconnected! Then, after the scream is ended, that muscle relaxes‑and the bone moves back into place, and faint sounds can be heard. This back‑and‑forth motion of that bone occurs more than a hundred times a second! And it always occurs in perfect alignment with the sending of the super-short screams.
But there is still more: The faster these sounds are emitted, the more up-to-date information the bat will receive. Fast reception of information is especially needed when the little fellow is flying around the curves inside the cave, or is flying among the branches of a forest. Some bats can send out 200 quick screams a second. Each sound lasts only a thousandth of a second, and each is spaced just the right distance from the other so that each echo is clearly heard.
Talk about the amazing honey bee; who designed the bat! This creature is astounding. Frequently in this set of books, it is stated that Creation is a proven fact, not a possible alternative theory as some suggest. It is the laws of nature and the things of nature which prove Creationism; no other possibility could suffice. God made us. Accept the fact, for it is true. Not to accept it is to lie to yourself, and soon you are enmeshed in a habit of believing fanciful, foolish theories which, in reality, are obviously wrong.
GREENHOUSE PLANT: The fenestraria is not a plant in a greenhouse, but a plant which makes its own greenhouse.
Located in the southern African deserts, the fenestraria grows underground and only a small transparent window is exposed above the surface. This window is made of translucent cells and has two layers. Scientists were amazed to discover that the outer layer blocks the most damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, and the inner layer reduces and diffuses the light to a safe level for the green photosynthetic tissue of the buried plant. How could the plant know how to do all that? Frankly, it couldn't.
Do you want to design a better greenhouse? Go study the fenestraria. Someone may eventually do it, and produce far more efficient greenhouses than we have today.
THE HOMING ANT: In the Sahara Desert there are great areas of trackless sand. How could you travel on it and know where you were going? If you were less than an inch tall, how could you do it and find your way home again? Well, the little Cataglyphis does it every day. This is a tiny ant which lives in that great desert. Making its home in a little nest below ground, where it is safe from sand lizards and birds, the tiny ant remains there till afternoon.
By that time, all its enemies have fled to shade rocks or burrows to escape from the burning heat, and the little ant ventures out to find its lunch. At about the same time, hundreds cf these little ants crawl out of tiny tunnels and scurry off in search of dead insects. For an hour or so, they run here and there, zigzagging across the hot sand dunes. What they do must be done quickly‑before they are overcome with heat.
As each ant travels, it pauses every few seconds, raises its head and moves it around. Then it dashes off in a new direction. Eventually, mealhunting time is over and the little fellow must return to its nest with the collected food. But where is the nest? How can the little creature possibly know where it is located? Yet, without a pause, the tiny ant sets off in a certain direction‑and runs straight for a distance of up to 150 yards exactly to its nest hole!
After making careful observations, researchers concluded that it was during that moment of headlifting and turning that the ant oriented itself. The scientists rigged mirrors which gave a false impression of where the sun was located-and, at the end of the food-gathering trip, the ant was not able to find its way back to the nests. Obviously, this means that the little ant, with a brain smaller than a grain of sand, was constantly memorizing directional locations as, every few seconds, it looked up and then started off in a new direction. And it was able to use the angle of an ever‑moving sun as the norm for making those decisions.
BIGGEST SEEDS IN THE WRONG PLACE: The largest seed in the world is not, according to scientists, where it is supposed to be. The double coconut (corn-de-mer), Lodoicea maldivica, is a palm tree, the seeds of which require up to 10 years to develop before they are ready to grow into a new palm tree. They look like two coconuts joined together, and weigh up to 45 pounds.
In the wild they grow on hilltops in the remote Seychelles Islands. But researchers are baffled by their location on hilltops. How did they get there? Did the 45-pound coconuts roll uphill? The wind surely did not blow them up there. One would expect them to keep traveling farther and farther downhill, with each new generation. No known native animal or bird would be capable of carrying them up there. To add to the mystery, these coconuts sink in the water, so how did they get to the Seychelles Islands in the first place?
DOZING MOTHS:The bogong moth lives in Australia. In the springtime the little caterpillars feed on the grassy pastures of southern Queensland and New South Wales. Soon they pupate and become little greyish-black moths. But by now it is summertime and hot. What is a poor little moth to do in a place like that? I am not sure I would know, but the little moth does.
Instead of waiting around long enough to die in the heat, the little moths begin a long journey. Northward they travel to the Australian mountains. Each year they take exactly the same route that their ancestors took in previous years. Yet, just like their ancestors, they themselves have never before taken that trip-for they were born the same year they took it. Arriving at the foot of the mountains, they begin flying up and up the slopes, until they arrive at nearly 4,000-foot elevations. Some go on up to 4,500-foot locations.
The moths have arrived at piles of immense granite boulders near the summits. They alight on the boulders-and crawl into shady cracks. Packing close together, they look like tiles on a rooftop. In this high, cold place they go into a state of suspended animation, and remain there until the fall when they will return to lower elevatiions and lay their eggs next spring in the sand. Then they will die, and a new generation of moths will emerge in early summer-and soon thereafter wing their flight to the high northern mountains.
LIVING WITHOUT WATER: a plant in Israel can live without water. Another is to be found in America. It is called the bird's-nest club moss. This little plant can survive for several months without moisture of any kind. In a drought it rolls into a tight ball to minimize the area exposed to drying winds and sun. As the water leaves the cells, it turns pale. When the plant is dampened, it unfurls and becomes green within 15 minutes.
PRAIRIE DOGS' VENTILATION SYSTEM: Prairie dogs are small, rabbit-sized rodents with short legs and small ears. They live together in very large social communities on the grasslands of the American West.
Working together, they build underground houses which are 90 feet long, with many side rooms. It is all something of a complicated apartment house. But the ventilation is crucial; how are they going to get the air moving through it? How would you do it? Admit it; using only natural materials found on a prairie, neither you nor I would probably not know.
But the prairie dog does it anyway-and quite successfully. Each tunnel has two openings, one at each end. But they are not constructed the same way. One opens flat on the surface of the prairie. The other rises up through a foot-tall chimney of mud and stones. Why does the prairie dog arrange the openings that way? He does not know why; he just does it. The Master Programmer coded it into his DNA to build his house that way; just as He coded his fur to keep him warm, eyes to see with, and ears to listen to what goes on around him.
A marvelous design factor is in that foot-tall chimney. Wind moves faster a little above ground than it does at ground level. With one chimney, the air inside the apartment house is sucked out, and fresh air is drawn in through the lower entrance. But with no chimneys-or with two, the air inside would remain stagnant.
MAKING BIRD NESTS: It is not easy to place sticks together and get them to "stick together." Try it sometime. Watch a bird do it, and you will note that the little creature works at the placement of every twig-until thoroughly satisfied. Yet how can a bird know, just by looking at it, when the location of a stick is satisfactory?
The larger nesting birds tend to make rough stick nests. But many of the smaller ones make delicate cup nests. Inside a twig cup, a lining of softer material is placed. This might be dried grass, or something similar. Thrushes use mud, the bearded tit prefers flower petals. The house wren values pieces of sloughed snake skins. The honey guide of Australia ,plucks hair from the back of horses. Some birds grow special soft feathers on their chest, which they pluck off to line their nests. This has the double advantage of permitting their bare chests, which will be above the eggs, to keep those eggs warmer.
Hummingbirds use spider's silk. They build their nests while hovering over them, since the nest is too delicate for them to alight on till it is completed.
The swifts have a special problem. Although very fast fliers, their feet are poor and they rarely land on a branch-or anything else other than their nest. How then can they build their nests? How would you do it if you had to remain in the air all the time?
First, the swift collects twigs by flying at a branch and breaking off a piece in flight. Then it flies to a wall and attaches it, using saliva. The swift has been given amazingly sticky saliva! Outside the body, it acts like a fast-drying glue. More sticks are brought, and soon the nest is made. That is how the Asian chimney swift does it. The American palm swift uses-not twigs-but cotton, plant fibers, hair, and feathers. The African palm swift only uses saliva throughout the operation.
These are called "palm swifts," because they attach their nests to the underside of palm leaves. But what keeps the egg from falling out of the palm leaf when the wind blows? No problem; the bird glues the egg into the nest!
The cave swiftlets of Southeast Asia also build with saliva-but they make much larger saliva nests. These nests are deep within dark caves, and may be attached to horizontal ledges, the vertical sides of the caves-or even to the overhead roof!
How can a bird make a nest out of saliva? How would he know how to form it in the right shape as he prepares it? "Easy," you say. Well, try dripping saliva onto a dinner plate-and make a bird nest out of it! Here is how the bird does it:
First he flies to the side of a cliff and repeatedly dabs saliva onto the wall in a half-moon shape of what the wall-side part of the nest will look like. Then he dabs more and more, and slowly builds it larger and larger. Gradually, he moves the sides inward-and produces a perfectly formed nest with a cup-like top! One nest takes several days to make; and when completed, it has the inside of the cup just the right size to hold two eggs. And that is exactly how many the swiftlet always puts into the nest.
The 20 MINUTE PLANT: The Stinkhorn fungus Of tropical Brazil is one of the fastest-growing organisms in the world. When the fungus is ready to begin growing, chemical changes in its cells permit them to absorb water rapidly.
It pushes out of the ground at the rate of an inch every 5 minutes, and grows to full size in 20 minutes. This growth is so fast that a crackling sound can be heard as the water swells and stretches its tissues.
As soon as full size is achieved, it begins decomposing at the top. Flies are attracted and, crawling over the surface, collect spores on their feet which they carry elsewhere.
MITES IN THE EAR: What is as Small as a mite? These creatures are so tiny that one of the places they live is inside the ear of the moth. Entire colonies of mites will live inside a moth's ear. Separate parts of the ear are used for egg laying, stacking their refuse, and feeding.
But there is a problem: These little creatures so fill the moth's ear that he can no longer hear properly with it. But he needs his ears, and with mites in both of them, he wanders around erratically, and would be caught by bats.
The solution is simple enough: The mites only live in one ear! In this way the moth can hear well enough to go about his business-with less chance of being eaten. Thus the mites keep themselves from being eaten by bats.
But, who told the mites to do that? Surety no mite could be smart enough to figure that out. The brain of a mite would be smaller than the smallest speck you have ever seen.
MADE FOR EACH OTHER: It is an intriguing fact-and one evolutionists would prefer to ignore-that living things are often designed with one another in mind. Without the one, the other cannot survive. How then could they originate in the first place, if they had to begin together? What outside Power did the designing? The plants and animals themselves surely did not confer together before they existed and figure it out.
Stanley Temple, an American biologist working in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, noticed in 1970 that the seeds of the Calvaria major tree, although fertile, had not germinated for 300 years (the age of the youngest specimens still growing). Noting that the large, wingless bird, the dodo, became extinct about that time, Temple brought in some turkeys-in the hope that they could do what the Dodo probably had done: swallow the seeds, thereby removing their hard outer coat and enabling them to germinate.
He fed some of the seeds to domestic turkeys, collected the seeds when they had passed through the birds' digestive system, and planted them. For the first time in three centuries, Calvaria major germinated, producing healthy new plants.
DUET BIRD SINGERS: Did you know that some birds prefer to sing together? The bou-bou shrike lives throughout tropical Africa in thick forests, where they can only see a few feet at the most. A pair may not be far apart, but they cannot see one another.
The song of this bird is exquisite. It is clear, flute-like, with a long melodic pattern. Yet, the truth is that it is two birds singing, not one. One bird starts the song and then, it will suddenly pause and the other will add a note or phrase, and then the first bird will instantly take up the song again. Back and forth it will go-and yet it sounds as if only one bird is singing! There is not the slightest hesitation or pause anywhere in the song.
The two birds are a mated pair. Scientists tried to study this in detail with tape recorders and sonograms to analyze the sounds-and then made the discovery that there are many other duet-singing birds in the wild. In a square mile of South American rain forest there may be as many as a dozen different species of birds singing duets. This is how they keep track of the location of each other in those dense jungles.
Yet it is obvious that the birds did not devise this. The intellectual requirements for such a procedure are too great. It would be with the greatest of difficulty that you and I could sing such a duet together, even if we were the best singers in the world. The cue and mental requirements for such instant stopping and switching over from one bird to the other, at random points here and there in the song are astounding. It has been discovered that each bird in the pair knows the complete, complicated song and, if solitary, can sing it alone. But that cannot explain how they can know to instantly stop‑so the other can sing part of it-and then return to the other.
In the darkness of night in the forests of Europe, the tawny owl also sings in duet. Its famous towhit towhoo call has been heard by millions of Europeans. Yet few realize that it is two birds uttering the call! One owl sings the towhit, and then, the other owl instantly gives the towhoo. It all sounds as if it is coming from one bird, but the call is being made, alternately, by a pair of owls.
COLD LIGHT: Most of the energy used to light a light bulb is wasted, since it is changed to heat. It takes energy to produce light, scientists cannot fathom how lights in nature operate so efficiently. The man who ever solves this problem will be a millionaire overnight, but, so far, no one has been able to do so‑even though fireflies and other creatures do it all the time.
For example, the tropical firefly, Photinus, makes light with 90 percent of the energy used for that purpose. By contrast, only 5.5 percent of the energy used to power an incandescent bulb emerges as light; the rest is wasted as heat. The glow of a firefly contains only 1/80,000 of the heat that would be produced by a candle flame of equal brilliance.
If an ignorant speck-brained firefly can do that, why cannot man do it? If a thinking man cannot do it, then what reason do we have to think that an "accident" did it for the firefly? The firefly is enabled to do it because of the advance planning of an Intelligence far greater than that of mankind.
WATER ON FIRE: In the clear waters of the San Blas Islands, located in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama, you will find that the ocean sometimes sparkles with fire.
What you see are tiny fire‑fleas. Each is a small crustacean about the size of a land flea, but with shrimp‑like bodies. The sudden spurt of light in the dark water so startles a predatory fish that, even if it has already snapped up the fire‑flea, it may swiftly disgorge it in fright. These little creatures also use their light to locate and attract one another, much as fireflies on land do.
One type of firefly makes equally‑spaced spots of light as it swims. Another only flashes as it swims vertically to the surface, ever flashing faster as it nears the water line. Yet another flashes synchronistically as the males, several feet apart, move through the water flashing together in precise unison.
FISH THAT FLIES: Everyone has heard of the flying fish, but it is still a very unusual creature. Flying fish do not actually fly; they glide. First, they leap into the air at speeds up to 20 m.p.h. Then, using their wide pectoral fins as wings, they begin their glide. Because they usually remain close to the water's surface, they flick their tails occasionally to produce extra thrust and keep them going longer.
Flying fish have been known to soar as high as 20 feet and travel as far as 1,300 feet in one glide through the air.
OCEAN SOUNDS: There is more noise in the ocean than merely the lap of waves. You can dive down into the sea and not hear these sounds. This is because the small plug of air in your outer ear blocks them out. But, upon lowering a hydrophone (an underwater microphone) into the ocean, you discover that the ocean is full of sound.
Triggerfish grate their teeth together, sea horses rub their heads against their back spines, and pistol shrimps dislocate their claws when enemies draw near-and the resulting noise sounds like gunshots. When a conger eel prepares to attack a spiny lobster, the lobster rubs its stony antennae along a toothed spike that is on its head between its eyes. A rasping noise is made, and all the spiny lobsters in the area quickly jump into their holes.
PORPOISE TALK: Porpoises (also called dolphins) seem to talk more than anyone else living in the ocean. Which is quite a thought.
Scientists have studied them in aquaria and in special shallow-water locations off the coast of the Bahamas. Porpoises have a vocabulary of about 30 different vocalizations, but they can also change the significance of each by the body position at the time the sound is made. A certain sound made while nodding the head will have a different meaning than when not nodding it.
Each porpoise has a "signature whistle," which' is his unique call identifying himself. Another porpoise only uses that call to catch the attention of the owner of that special whistle.
All of these sounds are totally different than the sounds they make when they send out sonar (underwater radar). That system is used to locate distant objects.
A third way in which porpoises communicate is by ultrasonic sounds which people cannot hear, but which certain electronic equipment can receive and record. A fourth way is by touching (nudging, stroking, and smacking) one another.
SONGS OF THE HUMPBACK: The porpoises click and make high-pitched sounds. But the whales sing. Would you like to hear a whale sing? Recordings of these sounds can be purchased from wildlife organizations.
The humpback whale is the greatest singer of them all. Its songs consist of vast roars and groans, interspersed with sighs, chirps, and squawks. That description may not sound very exciting, but their songs are interesting to listen to. And they go on for quite some time. Each song can last 10 minutes or so. Once completed, the whale will repeat it again-and again-for hours. Each year the songs change somewhat, as the whales experiment with changes in the tunes. We have learned a lot about these songs, but no one yet knows why these whales sing.
BLASTS FROM THE BLUE WHALE: The largest creature in the world is the blue whale. Some have been measured at 100 feet in length. It has the largest lungs and vocal cords in the world and makes the most noise. Blasts of 188 decibels have been reported. This would be equivalent to the Saturn five rockets which launch the space shuttle. But these sounds are extremely low in range. Scientists believe that the calls of blue whales can be heard by other whales a thousand miles away.
GROWING DOWN: Most creatures grow up, but there is a frog which does the opposite. The paradoxical frog (pseudis paraobxa) becomes smaller as it "grows up." Living in the South American tropics, the tadpoles grow to as much as 10 inches in length. But, when this particular tadpole turns into a frog, it shrinks drastically.
During this process-as do other frogs-the tail is absorbed into the body. But when the change is completed, the paradoxical frog is only 3 inches in length.
Why should this frog be so different than the others? Evolution could have no answer. The difference is one of design, and only design. Any student of DNA well-knows that hundreds of interrelated genes, located in different chromosomes, would be involved. Chance could not change them, without producing a monster which would be dead at birth.
WASPS TO THE RESCUE: Several species Of birds in South America (caciques and oropendolas, for example) and weaverbirds in Africa like an especially protected location in which to build their nests. So they first go searching for the homes of the dreaded wasp. No one wants to live near them! It will surely be well-protected from all their enemies, but what about the wasps?
Once found, these birds build their nests close to the wasps' nests. Yet, oddly enough, the wasps do not at all mind having these birds nesting in the trees just above their own nests. But let another bird even get near, and the ferocious wasps buzz toward them threateningly.
When the nests are constructed, the birds settle down to raise a family. Then an enemy draws near to raid the nest, and instantly the wasps fly out and go after him. The wasps have decided to protect not only their own nests but those of the nearby birds also.
Scientists are still trying to figure out why wasps attack other birds but protect these certain ones.
JUMPING FROGS IN MANY COUNTRIES: Mark Twain once wrote about a jumping frog. There are frogs all over the world, and all of them surely can jump! Pick up a frog and look closely at it. These little creatures are excellently designed for jumping. Yet they could never work out the design themselves. It had to be done for them. The back legs, folded into three sections, provide the leap; the front legs are the shock absorbers when they land.
The small North American frog, Acris gryllus, can jump up to 6 feet, which is 36 times its own 2 inch length. Many other frogs can jump somewhat shorter distances. For a man to do this, the world's champion human jump would be about 215 feet.
EGG TIMERS: Mallee fowl of Australia lay eggs at random times throughout the summer since, when each hatches, it is a fully-formed small adult; well-able to fly off and take care of itself.
But many birds which nest on the ground cannot do this. Their chicks are born very feeble and must be given much care and a lot of food. It would be very difficult if the eggs hatched and matured at different times. For example, the female quail does not begin to incubate her clutch of a dozen or so eggs until the entire number have been laid-which may require two weeks. Then she begins setting on the entire lot at the same time.
Who told the mother quail to do this? Her parents surely didn't. Yet quail regularly do not set on the eggs until the entire clutch has been laid.
But that is not the end of the matter. The little quail sets on so many eggs that the ones on the outer part of the nest do not receive as much warmth. Also she has to regularly turn the eggs, or the membranes within them may adhere to the shell. So many factors are involved that, as hatching time draws near, some eggs are not as well-developed as others.
How can this problem be solved, so that all the chicks will come out of their shells at about the same time? Another miracle; listen to this:
Scientists have discovered that, as hatching time nears, the unborn chicks begin to signal to one another. If you put a doctor's stethoscope to an egg at this time, you may hear clicks coming from within. The neighboring eggs can also hear them. If they have not yet reached the clicking stage, the sound of neighboring clicks stimulates them to speed up their development! Researchers played recordings of the clicks to batches of eggs-and thus induced them to hatch well before others from the same clutch, which had been kept alone and in silence.
BIRD BONES: Evolutionary biologists tell us that birds have evolved their bones until they are now very lightweight. But birds cannot change their bones any more than you or I can. Also, if birds cannot fly with heavy bones; how did they survive before they invented lightweight bones for themselves?
Those bones are truly unusual: They are so lightweight that a bird's feathers weigh more than its entire skeleton! That is quite a thought, considering how lightweight a feather is.
The bones are very nearly hollow, with internal struts and honeycombed air sacs to provide them with unusual lightweight strength. Modern airplanes are built in a similar manner, but only after very careful planning by intelligent men.
During flight, air flows into the sacs in the bones-and then to the lungs. This enables the bird to have a much larger supply of fresh oxygen as it flies. Even the beak is modified to save weight, and is constructed of lightweight horn with no teeth.
A golden eagle is a large bird; yet, although having a wingspan of nearly 8 feet, it weighs a total of less than 9 pounds.
DEVELOPMENTAL AGES AT BIRTH: Each animal is born in just the best way. Some creatures, like baby mice, will have a longer time to grow, since they are born in a cosy, hidden nest. So they come forth blind, hairless, and unable to walk.
But other creatures are born into a harsh environment, and must be able to travel as soon as they arrive in this world. The guinea pig and agouti has no nest, but lives on the surface of the ground. So their babies are fully formed, fully haired, and can run as soon as they are born.
Calves of the wildebeest, in east Africa, are born while the herd is migrating, and can stand up and trot after their mother within five minutes of dropping to the ground.
SMALLEST MAMMALS: The Creator can make things in miniature. The smallest mammals are the 3-inch Etruscan shrew, which only weighs about 0.09 ounce, and the 6-inch Craseonycteris thonglongyai bat, which weighs even less: about 0.06 ounce. How can all the dozens of specialized organs, found in every mammal, be included in these tiny creatures? It is, indeed, a great marvel of wisdom and craftsmanship.
BABY DISCOVERS ITS NOSE: Female Elephants live together in groups and cooperate in caring for the baby elephants, while the males spend their time alone, wandering about. The little elephants are cared for by all the adults in the group. If anything happened to the mother, the others would raise her little one. In the care of so many protective adults, the youngsters happily romp about and play.
Researchers who watch elephant herds, have found that when an elephant is only a month or two old, it begins shaking its trunk, wondering what this strange thing is. It will shake its head and notice how the curious object flaps back and forth. Sometimes the baby trips over it. When the baby goes down to the watering hole, it awkwardly kneels down and tries to sip with its mouth. At about the age of 4-5 months, it discovers that water can be sniffed up into its trunk, and then can be blown out into its mouth. That discovery not only enables it to get a drink faster but can lead to more fun: Baby finds it can blow water on the other elephants.
Why is the learning process so slow for an elephant, when some other creatures are immediately prepared at birth for life's crises? This is no failure in design. The baby elephant has many protectors and a long childhood before it will becomes an adult. There is an abundance of time for it to learn as it grows, so this factor was wisely provided for in the design blueprint.
PROLIFIC BUNNY RABBITS: Female rabbits can breed when 4 months old, and every 30 days produce up to nine babies. During the spring and summer, one can bear six litters. In three years time, if there were no losses, one pair of rabbits could produce 33 million! Many young children would probably be happy if that happened. There would be enough bunnies for all of them!
BIGGEST CONVENTION OF THEM ALL: The largest gathering of mammals, held anywhere in the world, convenes every summer on the Pribilofs, an island group in the Bering Sea off Alaska. Each year 1.5 million Alaskan fur seals assemble, and produce half-a-million pups.
But it was a planned gathering. Seals on land are relatively defenseless, so they gather together in order to have better protection from their enemies.
WHEN ENEMIES CALL A TRUCE: The Rufous woodpecker of India and southeast Asia likes to eat ants. Those stinging tree ants, in turn, occupy themselves with vigorously attacking every intruder that comes near their nest.
But, surprisingly enough, when it comes time for the rufous woodpecker to build a nest, it temporarily makes peace with the ants.
The awesome fact is that this woodpecker flies to the football-size nest of stinging tree ants, tunnels in, lays its eggs there, and then settles down and incubates them, all the while with stinging ants all about it!
The utterly impossible occurs. No one can figure it out, including the scientists. The thought of a woodpecker setting on its eggs in a nest of stinging tree ants-has the experts stumped. Or treed, should we say.
When the little birds hatch, the dutiful parent feeds them till they are able to fly away. Throughout that time, it has not eaten one of the ants in that nest, nor have they disturbed it during its nesting season (although they attack anything else that comes near their nest at that time, as well as at any other time).
And then what do you think the woodpecker does? It flies off-and again does as it did earlier-eating ants in their ant nests.
SPIDER SILK: Most spiders are such tiny things. Yet every one of them can produce a variety of different silk. Some of it is thin, some of it thick. Some is designed for temporary scaffolding, and some is stronger than steel of comparable weight and is heavy‑duty building material. It is the strongest of all known natural fibers.
How can a little spider make this silk? It is a marvel. Yet each spider can and does make different kinds of silk! It can automatically turn off one spigot flow of this strange liquid (which, on contact with air, instantly changes into an elastic solid) and turn on a different type of liquid. At any given time, every spider can produce several different types of silk. The type it produces will be exactly the right kind for the job it is immediately working on. Watch an orb (circular) spiderweb in the making. The little spider begins with one type of silk for the initial construction, and then switches to another for the circular, sticky part.
This silk is actually a liquid protein that is squeezed from little nozzles at the rear of the abdomen. It hardens upon meeting the air. Spiders use silk for all kinds of purposes: egg-sac cases, the lining of nests, woven tents for their babies, safety lines when they jump, circular webs, trapdoor wrappings and hinges, non‑circular webs, and airplane lines which carry them to distant areas-and across oceans.
GUARDING A SHRIMP: Some people have guard dogs, but there is a shrimp which has a guardfish. The goby (Cryptocentrus coeruleopunctatus) is a 6-inch fish which lives in the ocean. It acts as a sentry for a tiny shrimp, called the snapping shrimp, with which it shares a burrow on the seabed. The shrimp makes the burrow, and keeps it clean. The fish, in turn, has the better eyes of the two and guards the shrimp when they are outside the burrow.
When the entrance to their burrow becomes clogged with rubble, the shrimp comes out to clean the entrance and the area around it. It uses its claws like a mechanical digger. While it is working, the goby is on guard duty. It is nearby watching for enemies. Yet it remains close enough that one of its antennae touches the shrimp at all times. The moment the goby senses any danger, it wriggles its body. Instantly the shrimp jumps back into the burrow, and the goby immediately follows. Who told the shrimp and goby to work together like that?
MAGNETIC PIGEONS: Of course, we have all heard about the phenomenal homing abilities of pigeons. Ancient Roman emperors would use them to send messages across long distances. These birds tend to stay at home, not traveling more than a few miles from it at a time. Yet, if taken to a distance of several hundred miles, they will be able to find their way back home-and do it within a few hours.
Careful experiments have shown that homing pigeons take note of geographical features below them; and, when leaving their home, they initially circle overhead to get their bearings, and then head off to feeding locations not far away. So visual observation is a factor. But birds carried hundreds of miles away cannot see the ground from the air, and will soon travel over terrain they have never before seen. So how do they find their way home?
Birds were fitted with glasses which prevented them from seeing the ground, and yet they found their way home anyway. Obviously, sighting the land below them was not the key. There is good evidence that the birds check the angle of the sun as they fly. Yet, on overcast days, they still find their way home.
Then researchers took birds to a distant location on overcast days, tied tiny magnets to their heads, and turned them loose. They could not find their way home. So the answer is a combination of all three: visual observations of the ground, the angle of the sun, and mental readings of the location of the magnetic north pole. But, of the three, the magnetic readings are the most important for distance flying. This is a feature which does not change.
The small magnets on their heads were strong enough to keep them from sensing earth's magnetic pole. But how are they able to sense earth's magnetism? This is not known, but it has been discovered that birds are born with a tiny piece of magnetic rock in their heads! This is a little magnet in their brains. Where did that particle of rock come from? How did it get inside their heads?
Everything in nature about us is filled with mysteries, which can only be explained by the presence of a Creator who made everything.