Category Archives: nature

God’s Stuff: Giant Salamander

Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a very rare and very impressive animal: the Japanese giant salamander. It’s related to our own America hellbender, which is a whopper in its own right: but this critter gets two or three times as big. A full-grown Japanese giant salamander is almost as big as you are. Not quite like the little redbacks you can find in your back yard!

There are also giant salamanders in China. Outside of the inevitable habitat loss and degradation, the biggest threat faced by these creatures is schmendricks who like to eat members of endangered species because it makes them feel like big shots. Whatever they have to say on Judgment Day had better be good.

All right, I know some of you get the creeps from looking at these animals. But they are part of God’s creation, they certainly do us no harm at all, they are rare and difficult to find–and they are worthy of our admiration, because they are the work of Our Creator’s hands.

I don’t know about you, but they leave me in awe of God’s vision.


Mr. Nature: Behold the Mighty Stegosaur

Image result for images of miller toy stegosaurus

Of all the Miller Co. wax dinosaurs I had in my childhood, only a couple of these Stegosaurs survive, a big one and a little one. For some reason, these were much less apt to be broken than the others.

And speaking of Stegosaur survival, there are persistent rumors that in the largely unexplored Likouala Swamps of the Republic of the Congo, a creature very like a Stegosaur still lives. The few people who live there call it mbielu-mbielu-mbielu, which means, I think, “What the hell was that?”

In western North America are found the best and biggest fossil Stegosaurs, Stegosaurus ungulatus and S. Stenops. Other species have been discovered in Europe, Tanzania, China, India, and, most recently, Australia (just footprints there, so far). So they must have been quite a successful group of animals.

There’s only so much we can learn from bones, though. Still puzzling are the exact arrangement of the armored plates along the Stegosaurus’ back and the seemingly inadequate size of its brain, indicative of a belief in socialism.

But we will learn much more when somebody finally captures a live mbielu-mbielu-mbielu.

And no, it’s not a fake fact I made up on the spot!

P.S.: Edgar Rice Burroughs, in his “Pellucidar” (prehistoric world inside the hollow earth) novels presented the Stegosaur as being able to glide through the air by lowering its back-plates, but he never found many takers for that theory.


Bonus: The ‘Roo Doesn’t Always Win

Video courtesy of my buddy, “Diceman,” on my chess page.

Here’s a man who’s afraid a kangaroo is going to kill his dog–so he rushes to the rescue. He is risking serious injury, but at least this kangaroo is somewhat his size. And the ‘roo is clearly surprised by this turn of events, and can’t quite decide what to do about it.

I just wonder if this guy, a few hours later, asked himself, “What in the world was I thinking???”


The Battling ‘Roos of Suburbia

G’day, mate! Mr. Nature here, somewhere in the suburbs in Australia, just in time for an early-morning fight between two male kangaroos.

These guys can get up to eight feet tall when they stand on their hind legs; and with the sturdy tail available as a third leg, they can kick with both hind legs at once. Meanwhile, they punch and scratch with their clawed forepaws.

I don’t see anybody running outside to break this up.

Why did God make kangaroos so fierce?

He didn’t. It’s the fallen world that made them fierce. And anyway, the occasional ferocity of male kangaroos in mating season hardly holds a candle to the ferocity of human beings toward one another.

God is at work, even now, to restore His creation to its original state of purity. We wonder why it’s taking Him so long.

But I know one thing for sure: I’d rather He did it than us.


Beware the Komodo Dragon!

Image result for images of komodo dragon

Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a warning to all you eco-tourists–don’t mess with apex predators.

In Komodo National Park, Indonesia, recently, a tourist from Singapore, eager to take really cool pictures, ignored warnings and ventured too close to the Komodo dragons while they were eating goats. He was so absorbed in picture-taking that he didn’t notice another lizard creeping up on him–and the dragon practically took his leg off ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4473224/Tourist-50-attacked-Komodo-dragon-Indonesia.html). Warning: news link contains gory pictures.

The Komodo dragon–“the world’s largest living lizard,” as Bob and Ray were so fond of saying–grows up to ten feet long and can weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds. There aren’t many of them left in this world, and they’re strictly protected. They’re also a major tourist attraction.

In their little island world, though, these are the apex predators, top of the food chain; and because they’re protected, and have so little experience in dealing with human beings, they have no fear of man and will eat you if they can. If their size and strength don’t do you in, their bite is also venomous. Since 1974, five park visitors have died after being bitten.

My own monitor lizard, Spot, a savannah monitor only two feet long, once took exception to the medicine I was giving her and chomped down on my finger. Because she was only making a statement, and not seriously committed to fixing my wagon but good, I still have the finger. But her bite felt just like getting a car door slammed onto my hand. P.S.–The savannah monitor isn’t poisonous.

So… the next time someone invites you to swim with the sharks, or get up close and personal with a pride of lions… just say no. Top predators deserve respect!


Time Out for Plankton

For those of you who are tired of cat videos and want to see something different; or who are interested in acquiring really tiny little pets; or who just need a break, and a reminder that God’s stuff–plankton, for instance–works the way it’s supposed to–well, here you go. I promised a plankton video and here it is. Consider this a sanity break.


Mr. Nature: The Biggest Dinosaur

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with what may be the biggest dinosaur known so far: Argentinosaurus.

As paleontologists fan out into territories untouched by earlier fossil-hunters, they find cooler and cooler dinosaurs. Argentinosaurus was published in 1993 and is called by Wikipedia “the largest dinosaur known from uncontroversial evidence.” Which means its title is only temporary, pending further study and new discoveries. It is estimated, from incomplete remains, to have been about 100 feet long and weighed about 100 tons. Give or take a few.

Now that’s big!

The video gives you an idea what this creature was like. It is based on speculation, and study of the bones, comparison with similar dinosaurs, etc. Please feel free to ignore the evolution chatter in the narration. I always do.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than any other, gave the world the concept of dinosaurs as lively, warm-blooded, reasonably intelligent animals–once told me that one of the things he enjoys about dinosaurs is thinking about the pleasure God must have had in creating them. Yes, I like to think about that, too.

No one has seen a living dinosaur. We can never be sure that our reconstructions of them and their world are entirely on target. I love them because they fill me with a sense of awe: “What hath God wrought!”

As far as we know, dinosaurs no longer exist on earth. But God has the entire universe at His disposal, in which to do His pleasure. In speaking of these creatures, it’s a good idea to leave absolute certainty behind.

Admire God’s handiwork, and wonder.


‘Shark…..!’

I have to use this video or lose it, so here it is.

On a beautiful beach somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico, a couple of bathers are blissfully unaware of the exceedingly large shark that’s coming their way. They don’t seem to hear the warnings shouted from whatever elevation this video camera was stationed. And the shark comes closer and closer…

They’re in luck, though. The shark is busy hunting a stingray and has no time for humans.

Just for the record: offshore waters are normally full of sharks. That’s where the fish are, so the sharks feed there. If the people in the water could see the sharks in the water, they wouldn’t be in the water anymore. Given the large number of people and sharks in the water at the same time, any shark attack must be viewed as a statistical anomaly.

Which is but little comfort to the swimmer whose leg gets bitten off…


God is Nigh

Image result for images of old dogwood tree

Our ancient dogwood tree has just come into flower on this Easter morning. It always did have a fine sense of timing.

We’ve been here 40 years, but the tree was here first. Dogwoods can live up to 80 years, says Mr. Nature; but we don’t know when this tree was planted.

Even more remarkable, on the very same day, our ancient tulip has bloomed. Tulips live for 20 years, sometimes a little more. But this, too, was here when we moved in. It used to burst forth into one spectacular, bright red flower. Now it has four instead of one. We hope the squirrels don’t eat the flowers, as used to be their custom. They left it alone last year.

These (even the squirrels) are God’s handiwork. He imagined them, and then created them. They are here because He put them here. Their beauty is one of His countless gifts to us.

But even more than beauty, the dogwood and the tulip, and all the rest of God’s creation, have something important to tell us: God is nigh. Always.


A Welcome Weed

Image result for dead nettle

The first plant to come up in my wife’s little garden, this year and last year, is the purple deadnettle.

Hi, Mr. Nature here–and it’s called the “dead” nettle because it doesn’t have a sting like the real nettle. It’s a member of the mint family, memorable for its delicate purple flowers and its leaves that are arranged like a stack of dishes. It grows all over the place, around here.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than anybody else, popularized the concept of warm-blooded, active dinosaurs–once told me one of the things that most draws him to God is the self-evident delight which the Creator takes in His creation. I agree! Even this fallen world, the Father stocks with beauty. Even the weeds!

I was happy when I read that a lot of people have come to appreciate the deadnettle for its beauty and are now planting it on purpose, usually as a border for a garden, and because it so delights our eyes.

Give thanks for the beauty of God’s handiwork: it tells us something good about its Maker.


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