This is Charles R. Knight’s 1894 painting of Elotherium, an extinct animal that resembled a wild boar. That’s cool–but what I’m really interested in is the backdrop.
This reproduction, the only one I could find, doesn’t quite capture the dried-out yellowish tones of the banks of this gully. You’ll have to imagine that. The gully is full of water and the animals are crossing it. Farther up toward the horizon, the gully feeds into a more permanent stream. And then a river? Then the sea?
The thing is–I think I’ve been there! Years and years and years ago. You got there if you went all the way down Orchard Street, back when there was still an orchard there, well past all the houses, and then just park your bike where this little bridge went across the gully. You could easily climb down and wade in the water–which of course you wouldn’t do if there were Elotheriums present. They look irritable.
It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Knight used real places as the backdrops for his paintings of prehistoric life. I wonder: did he wander into my childhood, or did I wander into one of his paintings?
When I came home from the supermarket this morning and pulled into the parking lot, the first thing I noticed was that the crows and blue jays were making no end of a fuss, up there in the treetops. The next thing I saw was… a fox. That’s what had them so upset.
This was the second time I’d seen the fox in the past few days, and many of my neighbors have seen it, too. Maybe you live in a place where seeing a fox is no big deal; but here in our New Jersey suburb, it is. Our wildlife is mostly squirrels, possums, and birds, with the odd chipmunk thrown in. Never foxes.
However, there he was, crossing the parking lot, large as life. Okay, foxes are pretty good at adapting to human-dominated environments. Even so, I’ve lived here all my life and never seen a fox until now. And there have been deer around, too.
I don’t know why this should be. I’m waiting for more information. But my wife thinks there’s been so much unwelcome building around here, it’s driven the animals out of their hiding places–by removing those places and paving them over. I hope that’s not the reason, but it could be.
I like to think the wildlife is coming back because God has something better in mind for us than anything we’ve thought of by ourselves.
Before we move on to any demoralizing nooze, here’s Mr. Nature with a safari to the ocean floor in search of sea spiders. Please feel free to ignore the cutesy narration.
Very few of this have ever seen one of these critters, and most of us have probably not heard of them. Which is odd, because there are hundreds of species of sea spiders and they’re found world-wide in both deep and shallow water. But as most of them are very small and quiet, it would be easy not to notice them.
I’ve been fascinated by these creatures for a long time. How can you not be fascinated by an animal whose vital organs are in its legs because there’s no room for them in its body?
Fap to the evolution fairy tale. What hath God wrought!
Uintatherium makes a cameo appearance in The Last Banquet, and it’s one of my top favorite prehistoric animals. But the only video I can find of it is this Nissin Cup O’ Noodles commercial. This may be the best commercial ever made. It’s certainly the best one with a Uintatherium in it.
All of which is to say, it’s a beautiful day, I want to go for a walk, then come home for a cigar and a crossword puzzle, followed by a movie and supper. I have left you this video for your edification and enjoyment.
In recent years, quite a few people in rural Australia have seen big black cats that don’t belong there and might be dangerous. But no one has shot or captured one, the authorities haven’t taken any action, so no one knows what these critters are.
The video above is later than my 2013 post, so we note some changes. A few kills have been found stashed up trees: leopards do that. A man claims to have shot one and has pictures of it–which have been dismissed as a hoax. And a few government rangers have said they’ve seen the big cats, too.
But why are they always black cats? A “black panther” is a natural variation found among leopards and jaguars–so where are the normally-colored leopards or jaguars?
Meanwhile, some of those amateur videos look pretty real to me.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to South and Central America in search of the invisible–well, almost invisible–glasswing butterfly. I’d never heard of them until today. But God’s Creation is so vast, no one will ever know the whole length and breadth of it.
These butterflies have transparent wings, which help them elude predators. Even the caterpillars are partially transparent. We do see color around the edges of the wings; but hey, if it didn’t work, the glasswings wouldn’t be here.
Transparency turns up in other animals, too. I used to go to our local pet store and watch in fascination the “glass catfish” swimming back and forth. Their skin and muscles are transparent and you can see their bones.
As Rev. D. James Kennedy used to say, “Ain’t chance grand?”
I just can’t see how anyone can observe nature and not believe in its Creator.
Behold the ocean sunfish! I was totally intrigued by this creature, when I became old enough to page through books and magazines and at least look at the pictures. It didn’t look at all like any other fish! I mean, come on–it’s like a great big head without a body.
But look at it in its natural habitat. Here it works just fine. Here it moves gracefully.
And then a platoon of little fish come along to clean the parasites off its skin!
“Evolved by blind chance–” Uh-huh. But it’s not chance that’s blind.
I admit I’m not much for spiders, but I’ve always had a soft spot for these zebra jumping spiders–maybe because I wanted to be a zebra when I grew up, and look how close these little spiders have come to doing that.
Unlike other spiders, jumping spiders can actually see what’s going on around them. While I was writing yesterday, I discovered one of these little guys crawling around on my knee. It was easy to induce him to climb onto my hand and then jump somewhere else. He must’ve liked me because he kept coming back for more. So I played with the spider for a minute or two before finally releasing him onto the ground.
But I insist I’m not eccentric–just enjoying some of God’s stuff. And trying to manage a nooze-free weekend.
I haven’t seen this animal in Obann yet–Doedecurus, a giant South American armadillo with a tail club. But I suspect it’s only a matter of time before one or more of them turns up.
Finally! I sat outside and wrote a scene in my new book–which has only just started, and only God knows where the story’s going to take me. Indeed, after I post this, I think I’ll go back and write some more.
Hot tip heard on the radio this morning:
Want to keep your face mask/badge of submission disinfected? Nothing could be easier. Just leave it in your car (I’ve hung mine from the rearview mirror) and let the intense heat that builds up in there kill the germs. Be sure to shut your windows.
And now, back to Obann City for Lord Chutt’s treason trial.