Category Archives: nature

‘Evolution’–of Chameleons?

This video shows all of the chameleon’s highly-specialized assets at work.

Lots of mammals have prehensile tails, but chameleons are the only lizards that have them. Wrapped around a branch, the tail anchors the chameleon’s “firing platform.”

Its toes are bunched together into “mittens” that are ideal for a powerful grip. If you don’t believe me, let a chameleon climb your bare arm. No other reptile has this feature.

Its body is vertically flattened for easy passage through thick foliage.

Then there are the chameleon’s eyes, each one packed into a turret and capable of moving independently. The lizard can look in any direction without having to move its body. And the eyes can bring the prey into very sharp focus.

Many lizards eat insects, and most of them have to accomplish that on the run, and by being quicker than their prey. But the chameleon, thanks to its projectile tongue, can attack while it’s still too far away for the insect to perceive it as a threat.

Finally, we have the chameleon’s famous ability to change color and blend in with its surroundings.

Do you honestly believe that each of these special abilities, all of them, “evolved” by pure chance over kazillions of years?

Wanna buy a bridge?

This is Mr. Nature, celebrating God’s amazing handiwork.


Three Cheers for Chameleons

Ever since the really hot weather started, we’ve been annoyed by flies.

The very thought of a chameleon is a morale-booster. These guys never miss! I know because I had chameleons many years ago and they were super-deadly to any flying or crawling or hopping insect. Much more accurate than I am with a fly-swatter.

It’s a pleasure to watch.


Cuscus and Baby

Somewhere in the treetops in the jungles of New Guinea, a momma cuscus grooms her rather hefty child–that’s the big white thing scrunched up in her lap.

Byron the Quokka assures me that business will take off “like a bloomin’ rocket” if I hire a cuscus to assist him him managing my blog contests. He’s up to something, depend upon it.

Well, I remain open to persuasion. Toss in your two cents, anybody, if you want to. I have to get on to some nooze coverage.


Introducing: The Cuscus

See the source image

I’ve wondered about this animal ever since I saw it in a picture book when I was six or seven years old. It’s called a cuscus–“common spotted cuscus,” if you want to be formal–and it’s hard to look up in the Internet because the computer keeps trying to direct you to “couscous,” which is something altogether different.

The cuscus lives in trees in the jungles of New Guinea and mostly comes out at night, when it’s difficult to see them: they’re very shy. There are also a few in Cape York, Australia. They have prehensile tails, very similar to a chameleon’s.

Byron the Quokka has been dropping subtle hints about being able to do his contest-runner job better if a cuscus might be hired to assist him. “You just want more pictures of cute animals to pump up viewership,” I parry. “So that’s a bad idea?” Well, he’s got me there. Anyway, if you can’t trot out a cuscus or a potto now and then, what’s the point of blogging?

Fantastically varied realms of nature brought to you by God the Father, who created it all.


Break Up the Spiders’ Union

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The spiders in my neighborhood are a disgrace to their profession.

They’re supposed to catch flies, and there are a lot of them on hand to do it. Their webs are all over the place. A big black spider crawled up my arm the other day while I was writing. I had to shake him off twice before he got the message.

But are they catching flies? I don’t know what the heck they’re doing, but it isn’t catching flies. No–they’re letting the flies flit by. Mostly into our apartment. It keeps me very busy with the fly-swatter, and that’s one skill I was not terribly interested in developing to perfection.

The trouble is, the spiders have a union, International Amalgamated Brother & Sisterhood of Web-Spinners or something like that. Maybe once upon a time they needed a union, but you can say that for just about all unions. Now it’s just an excuse for sitting around the web and doing nothing.

It’s not so bad, compared to the damage done to the whole world by two more famous unions, the Soviet Union and the teachers’ union–but I would like them to catch some of these flies!


Unknowable’s House Guests

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Dig this! Wild peccaries, also known as javelinas, resting in the shade outside the office of our friend and colleague, “Unknowable.” Is that cool, or what?

If Mr. Nature were here, he would tell you peccaries are closely related to pigs: that’s why they look like miniature wild boars. They’re only half the size of wild boars and that’s a good thing, because they can be irascible.

They also kill and eat rattlesnakes from time to time. But these two don’t look hungry.


A Really Cool Prehistoric Critter

Image result for images of diplocaulus

I loved this creature from the first time I ever saw it–probably 6 years old, blissfully paging through an illustrated book on dinosaurs.

This is Diplocaulus, three feet long, and not a dinosaur but an amphibian. Dig that head! The first time my aunts took me to the American Museum of Natural History, and I saw the Diplocaulus fossils on display–just like in the pictures!–I could hardly contain my joy. And no other animal ever had a head like that.

These animals lived in Texas, in swamps and bayous which aren’t swamps and bayous anymore.

Now, imagine my surprise when I saw this picture:

Image result for images of diplocaulus in bucket

Holy cow! Somebody’s got a live Diplocaulus–right there, in a bucket!

But it was only a photo-shop job. In all the places that I’ve looked, I’ve never found a living Diplocaulus.

Please let me know if you do.


Mr. Nature: The Indestructible Water Bear

Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us no farther than the nearest pond or patch of moss.

Tardigrades, aka “water bears” because they look sort of like little tiny bears, are only a millimeter long; but they may be the toughest living things on earth. They can survive inside a live volcano, in the depths of an iceberg, or even for 10 days in outer space without oxygen  or any of those other amenities we take for granted under the atmosphere. When they go dormant, they can last–well, maybe forever. But just add water and they’re back in business!

I discount the speculation that tardigrades originally came here from outer space. The same God who created the Baluchitherium, coral reefs, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Mozart shouldn’t have had any trouble creating water bears. Trouble, no: fun, yes!


Mr. Nature: An Improbable Critter

Image result for images of tanystropheus

Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to an unexplored corner of Lintum Forest, by way of the Triassic Period. It will feature in Bell Mountain No. 13, The Wind From Heaven, which I’m writing now.

Behold Tanystropheus, with its improbably long neck. This fossil was so weird, that when its first pieces were discovered, the scientist thought it might be wing bones from a pterodactyl. But eventually enough pieces were found to yield the reconstruction pictured above.

How did this animal live? There’s nothing even close to it around today, no living creature to compare it to. Did it squat on the shore and use its long neck as a kind of fishing pole? There aren’t enough bones in the neck to make it very flexible. So the answer is, we just don’t know.

Our Lord is a highly versatile Creator!

 


Mr. Nature: Lightning Bugs are Back

Up here in Outer Jersey we’ve had a dark, cold, rainy spring, and I had begun to worry that maybe this time our lightning bugs would sit it out. But this past week they have returned.

Jambo, Mr. Nature here, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like seeing fireflies light up a spring or summer night. As kids we used to catch them in jars and put them in our bedrooms at night, only to find them dead in the morning.

A few facts: they’re not flies or bugs, but soft-shelled beetles. Only the males fly around, flashing on and off to attract potential mates. The females remain mostly in safe places on the shrubbery or grass, signaling back. There are thousands of species of lightning bugs around the world, but they all do pretty much the same thing.

More of God’s stuff–and He has outdone Himself this time, creating beauty.

A world without these creatures would be very poor indeed.


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