Did You Hear That???

I’d never heard of this bird until yesterday. The potoo–that’s what they call it in South America. It usually isn’t seen, but often heard. Listen!


Can Scientists Resurrect the Aurochs?

Return of the Aurochs | Discover Magazine

Europe’s domestic cattle are descended from the aurochs, a wild animal that died out in 1627, in a Polish forest. For some decades now, scientists have been trying to bring the aurochs back to life via back-breeding. An particularly notorious attempt was made by zoologists in the the Third Reich, resulting in sort-of/kind-of pseudo-aurochs called “Heck Cattle.”

Well, at least we know what the aurochs looked like, because our ancestors painted its picture on the walls of caves. Julius Caesar and other ancient writers described the aurochs’ size, strength, and speed. But by 1627 there were only a few of them left. The local people tried to save them, but at last a winter came that took away the last of the mighty aurochs.

We also have aurochs skeletons.

Aurochs | extinct mammal | Britannica

So… We have skeletons, we have pictures drawn from life, written descriptions, and many domestic breeds of cattle with aurochs DNA in them. And there are still projects ongoing to breed cattle back to the aurochs.

Can this ever succeed? Will it usher in an age of restoring colossal prehistoric animals?

And just how badly do we want that?

Is That Hummingbird Keeping You Awake?

I couldn’t resist this–a hummingbird, sound asleep… and snoring. Who knew birds could snore?

Our cats snore sometimes. And make other little noises in their sleep. But you expect that from cats and dogs. If you watch them sleeping, you can even guess what they’re dreaming about.

Betcha anything birds dream!

Special Treat: Heidi’s Cute Bug


Heidi sent us this picture of a cute little fluffy aphid she found in her garden. Great close-up technique! It’s a benign little face–and I think that bug was waving to her.

Yeah, I know, aphids are plant pests–but we can all afford to be a little sweet and sappy now and then, can’t we?

God’s stuff is the best.

Our Own Assassin Fly

The Robber Fly | Natural World | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

So I went outside to write in the heat, wanted to finish a chapter of The Witch Box, and when I’d had enough, I came back in to lie on the floor and cool off. I was just getting settled when Patty reported, with alarm, “What’s that on your back? Oh, it’s some awful kind of great big spider!”

“Well, are you going to just stand there looking at it? Get it off me!” I may be Mr. Nature, but I’d just as soon not have some great big spider crawl under my shirt.

“How? How do I get it off you?”

“I don’t know! Do something!”

She started to pull up my shirt. I wasn’t having that! “Oh! It’s got a long body like a grasshopper!” She was still messing about with my shirt when the big nasty spider suddenly “flew away.”

“What? A spider that can fly? Where did it go?”

“I don’t know! It just flew off!”

By and by I found the creature resting on a windowpane. Now that I could see it, I realized it was an assassin fly. I drew Patty’s attention to it. “Is this what you saw?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“There’s no problem, then. It’s an assassin fly. It’s a predator. It has no interest in human beings.”

“Does it eat bugs? Will it eat flies?”

“Flies, and anything else it can catch.”

“Well, then, it can stay here and be welcome,” Patty said.

So it’s still there on the windowpane, waiting for a tasty fly to come along.


‘Experts’ Whitewash Shark Attacks

Shark attack Swimmer - Great White Shark Stock Photo - Alamy

Relax! The shark is only curious. And this is just an “interaction.”

“Experts”–yeah, we just love ’em–are now saying that shark attacks shouldn’t be called shark attacks–unfair to the sharks, don’t you know–but “negative interactions” or just “encounters” with sharks (https://nypost.com/2021/07/15/shark-experts-insist-on-re-branding-attacks-as-shark-interactions/).

Like sharks care what you call them. Like it’ll hurt their feelings.

These particular experts are in Australia, a country well known for shark attacks. But really it was just some innocent big fish taking an innocent bite out of someone’s leg, just to see what it’d taste like.

The truth is that the waters around our beaches are full of sharks, pretty much all the time, and occasionally a shark bites somebody… or takes several bites, and kills the swimmer. This is what sharks do. They are predators. It’s how they live.

There’s no point in being mad at sharks, hating them, declaring war on them, or being so afraid of sharks that you won’t step into your bathtub. But there’s no point in trying to depict them as a lot of cozy-cuddles, either.

Then again, we live in a time when people can get arrested for using the wrong pronoun, or trolled on the social media for wearing a Chinese-style prom gown.

Again I say it: there’s no one as anti-human as a humanist.

By Request, ‘In His Time’

This was a special request from Erlene, and I hope I’ve got it right–In His Time, profusely illustrated with flowers, butterflies, and birds. With all this beauty in a fallen world, what will the restored and regenerated Creation be like?

Come you, you’ve got to love butterflies and flowers!

Mr. Nature: Earwig Wars!

A certain businessman once said, “I didn’t get where I am today by messing about with earwigs!” But he was missing something.

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–with earwigs. The ones in the video are bigger than the ones we find in our gardens, but otherwise the same.

I’ve always wondered about those “pincers” on the south end of a northbound earwig. All the other bugs have their pincers up front, like politicians. So having them where a tail ought to be seems an odd procedure. But it works for them.

These “cerci,” as scientists call them, function just like real pincers. They might as well be real pincers: male earwigs fight with them. I never knew that–did you? So, yes, an earwig could pinch you if you picked it up in your hand; but the damage would be so minimal as to be hardly worth mentioning.

Don’t panic if you find some in your garden. They mind their own business and will not harm your fruits or flowers. They won’t harm you, either.

God’s stuff is just so cool.

‘Beware the Komodo Dragon’ (2017)

Dinner is coming–and it could be you.

Fortunately for everybody’s peace of mind, Komodo dragons are rare and tend not to live in populated areas. Which is good, because this–the world’s largest living lizard–is one of the few land animals with the inclination and the ability to eat people.

Beware the Komodo Dragon!

No kidding–you really can get eaten. By a lizard!

This creature grows up to 10 feet long and 300 pounds. It’s an expert ambush predator. That means you don’t even know it’s there until it takes a bite out of you. And the bite is poisonous.

They’re very easy to avoid, though. Just don’t visit any of the islands where they live.

Sanity Break: Butterflies

I have to go pick up my blood pressure medicine–gee, I wonder why I need that–but I don’t know anything more soothing than watching butterflies. The tiger swallowtail has been my favorite since I was a little boy.

Filmed at Herronton Woods Botanical Preserve… right here in New Jersey!