Charles R. Knight was always one of my favorite artists. He is best known for the paintings he executed for our country’s great museums–paintings that make prehistoric ages come alive.
This is one of his renditions of Uintatherium, a walking fortress that exists no more. Well, naturally I’m going to groove on the prehistoric animals. But lately it’s been another aspect of Knight’s paintings that has captured my imagination.
Look closely. Take your time. Ignore the creature and study the landscape. I don’t know about you, but I would just about swear that Knight’s prehistoric landscapes were real places that he’d visited.
I know about that. I dream of places that are only real when I dream them. In fact, that’s how Bell Mountain started.
I know nothing of Charles R. Knight’s religious beliefs. But I believe that if the Holy Spirit wants to use you, He will, regardless of what you believe. If we approach Knight’s possibly real, possibly imaginary places in the right frame of mind, the Spirit might touch us, too.
God created the world and all living things, and pronounced them good. If He has Uintatherium safely tucked away in some unguessed-at corner of His universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in a place just like the one Knight painted.
And who would be more surprised to discover that than Charles Knight himself?
I fell in love with this little critter the first time I saw its picture in a book–Pteraspis, a prehistoric armored fish that supposedly went extinct some 350 million years ago. I don’t think I could’ve been more than five years old.
Pteraspis looks like a dart come to life. British pubs had not yet been invented, so Pteraspis didn’t have to worry about being pressed into service as a projectile. Its armor probably protected it from most predators.
Just a thought: Wait’ll someone finds some soft tissue in one o’ these babies! The fat’ll be in the fire then. Heads will roll, I tell ‘ee….
Isn’t this just beautiful? The red salander, Pseudotriton ruber ruber–when I was a boy, you could find them in my neighborhood. That was before the political party that claims to be “for” the environment paved everything over.
My friends and I collected salamanders. The most common were the little redbacks. They were just about everywhere. But every now and then you’d find a red salamander–bright red, speckled with black, with a salmon-pink underbelly. Like living jewels.
I still look for salamanders, occasionally, but the only ones left are redbacks. There are no more gorgeous red salamanders around here. They had to go, to make way for nail salons and trendy restaurants. And now, high rise tenements. Makes our town more urban, dontcha know.
In the restitution of all things we shall see Creation as the Lord Our God created it. And I’m sure He won’t forget to include these salamanders.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here: and our safari today takes us into the world created by artist Rudolph Zallinger in his 1947 mural, The Age of Reptiles.
I am particularly interested in Podokesaurus–because it has a cool name, hardly anyone has ever heard of it, and it’s so much smaller than all the other dinosaurs. In the picture above, you can just make it out: it’s that tiny little thing just below the Plateosaurus (the big purple thing) that’s bending over to much some plants.
Podokesaurus was discovered in 1910, in Massachusetts, by a Mt. Holyoke College geology professor and her sister, who were taking a walk together and happened to spot traces of bones in a boulder that had somehow split open–and what are the odds of that? The original fossil was destroyed in a fire in 1917, but the casts were saved; and in 1958 another Podokesaurus specimen was found. This one, scientists estimated, grew maybe up to nine feet long. The one found at the college was only three feet long.
When I was a little boy I used to gaze in fascination at pictures of this mural: must’ve spent hours doing it. This was another world. I couldn’t tear myself away.
Nowadays Zallinger’s renderings of dinosaurs are considered wildly inaccurate; but in 1947 they were Settled Science.
One thing about Podokesaurus–it was small enough to hide. Keep your eyes peeled, next time you go camping.
We’ve all seen white swans, haven’t we? But for a lot of us, the idea of a black swan would be just a romantic notion, or a bit of poetry.
Not so! Mr. Nature here again: and as long as we’re on the subject of Australian bird life, I’m here to tell you Australia has black swans–and here they are. They sound, to me, like musical instruments that need to be played by someone who has practiced. But it would be a nice sound to hear in the morning, don’t you think?
I don’t know about you, but just listening to these birds carrying on makes me want to laugh, too.
Mr. Nature here, with proof that God does have a sense of humor. He must have, or He wouldn’t have created kookaburras.
Although found only in Australia, the kookaburra’s distinctive loony laughter was a staple in every jungle movie and TV show for decades–and for all I know, still is. The jungle can be in Africa, South America, India, or the Caribbean, it doesn’t matter where–no matter where it is, you hear the kookaburra. Tarzan, Sheena, Jungle Jim, Ramar–they all went about their business with the kookaburra in the soundtrack.
Frogs don’t usually make good pets. But the grey tree frog is different.
These little guys actually get tame, don’t mind if you handle them, and will take food from your fingers. Plus they change colors, and they sing. And there’s a lot to be said for the ability to cling to a windowpane without falling off.
Mr. Nature here–and to this day I have never seen a luna moth. I have to settle for video.
Here’s one that got rained on and needs to dry out before it can fly again. Meanwhile, it seems perfectly content to rest on this man’s finger and have its picture taken.
God creates beauty, for His own pleasure and for ours.
(Note: “Lunar” is an error. It’s “luna,” not “lunar.”)
Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with the odd mata-mata turtle from South America, which occasionally shows up in the pet trade. Years ago, they had one at Noah’s Ark Pet Shop in East Lansing, but it wasn’t for sale. The shop’s owner had a lot of animals not for sale: he found it hard to part with them.
How does the mata-mata snap up fish so fast (and he never misses)? When he suddenly opens his large mouth, water rushes in so hard that the nearest fish gets washed in with it. I can’t think of any other animal that does this.
Note: I no longer keep pets that require live food. My painted turtle did just fine, sharing my suppers–and that’s how I wound up with a tankful of pet crickets. To me, goldfish are pets and nice companions, not turtle food.
You asked for it, Erlene, so here it is–a turtle climbing up a sheer wall.
I know I originally promised you the sight of a box turtle climbing a fence, and there are plenty of videos on that subject. But I didn’t want to post any video of the turtle falling down. Turtles are very good at climbing up a fence, but they’re just not built for climbing down.
My box turtles, when I was a boy, were always climbing up the fence around their turtle pen. Moving it to a cinderblock wall did no good; they climbed the cinderblock, too. Replacing the chicken-wire with bricks: no help, they climbed up the bricks. Turtles may look clumsy, but they have sharp claws, they’re immensely strong for their size, and they have both patience and determination. Those are assets that’ll get you to the top.