Category Archives: nature

Mr. Nature: The Okapi

When the 20th century started, this animal didn’t exist, scientifically. There were rumors of it, coming out of central Africa, but nothing official. Not until 1901.

Hi, Mr. Nature here, with the only animal in the giraffe family that’s not a giraffe–the okapi. This one’s in a zoo. The wild ones live in the Congo rain forest.

This gorgeous animal illustrates an unsolvable problem in cryptozoology: once a cryptic creature actually turns up, it immediately ceases to be crytozoology and becomes just plain zoology. The poor cryptozoologists, by definition, can’t have any specimens!

One of my aunts gave me a wonderful toy okapi when I was about five years old: wish I still had it. It may be in my brother’s toy box.

We pray God defends and preserves these beautiful animals that He’s created.

‘A Sloth as Big as an Elephant’ (2015)

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This is from before we all went sloth-mad:

There were a lot of ground sloths, once upon a time. They were all big, and the biggest one, Megatherium, was bigger than an elephant. Artists used to show them being preyed on by saber-toothed cats, but that was before we learned that Megatherium was virtually immune to attack by anything short of an anti-tank gun.

A Mystic Lizard

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Linda mentioned this yesterday: Ouroboros, “that eateth his own tail,” an ancient symbol of sorcery.

Hi! Mr. Nature here, and welcome to the world of folklore and real stuff. The Worm Ouroboros, in addition to being the title of a really cool fantasy by E.R. Eddison, is folklore. Just like those stories of the Hoop Snake, down South, which supposedly takes its tail in its mouth and rolls down a hill.

But there’s also the armadillo lizard of South Africa, and here he is:

Image result for images of armadillo lizard biting its own tail

Why does he grip his tail in his mouth? Is it some kind of lizard yoga exercise? No–it’s a defense against being swallowed by a snake. Who wants to swallow a ball of spikes?

I used to have a couple of armadillo lizards. In the total absence of anything to be afraid of, mine never bit their tails. They were spunky little lizards, with a lot of go to them.

But of no use whatsoever in any kind of magic. (Not that I tried!)

Where ‘Sloth’ is not a Sin

My wife was swooning today over this baby two-toed sloth, born at the Memphis Zoo. Okay, she finds baby sloths in general irresistible. But this one’s awful cute.

The mother sloth at the zoo has given birth before, but her babies didn’t survive, so the zoo staff thought it might be wise to hand-rear this baby, whom they’ve named Lua. And so far Lua’s doing very well. I don’t think her keepers find it a chore to care for her. But if they do, I know someone who would be glad to take over.

The Oldest Bird?

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That fragmentary skeleton up there is all that remains of a creature which its discoverer says is the oldest known bird–so old, that birds couldn’t possibly have evolved from dinosaurs. This makes him a bad guy and his science “problematic.”

Mr. Nature here, on this extremely humid Fourth of July, along with the “Triassic bird,” Protoavis. Dr. Sankar Chatterjee was a good guy when he was just digging up dinosaurs and thecodonts in the Southwest: but if Protoavis really is a bird, like he says it is, and if it really lived alongside early dinosaurs in the Triassic Period, like he says it did, then a whole lot of pet scientific paradigms and just-so stories have to go down the drain–and scientists hate it when that happens.

As some of you know, I’m a radical agnostic about the age of the earth. Can’t help it: the Bible doesn’t say how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before they sinned and got expelled, and were made subject to mortality. I suspect it was a very long time indeed.

But one thing’s sure: Protoavis has no business turning up in the Triassic fossil record, it’s unforgivably rude, and Dr. Chatterjee ought to be ashamed of himself. Why, he’ll be doing Climbit Change Denial next!

That funny little sound you hear in the background is Protoavis snickering.

Mr. Nature: The Last Thylacine

These video clips, taken at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, preserve the memory of an animal that is now supposedly extinct–the thylacine, aka “Tasmanian tiger,” once upon a time the largest living marsupial carnivore. The last one died at the zoo in 1936.

Mr. Nature here, with an animal that I wish was still alive. And it may be. Over the years, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have claimed to have sighted living thylacines on the Australian mainland. Some of them back up their claims with videos, a few of which look quite convincing. So it’s possible there may be a few of them left, roaming the outback. The long, stiff tails, and the stripes along the back, are distinctive: no other animal has them.

Jack and Ellayne encountered a much larger version of a thylacine in Lintum Forest, carrying off, in its massive jaws, the front half of a knuckle-bear.

I don’t think God likes it when we kill off members of His creation.

But I also believe He’ll bring them back, someday, somewhere–if He hasn’t done it already, someplace where they’re safe from us.

God’s Stuff: Chameleon

It’s just over-the-top cool, the way this little guy can change color. And fast, too! But that’s not his only specialty. His feet are perfect for gripping twigs and branches, his tail is prehensile, and his eyes in their turrets can move independently of one another, scoping for prey in all directions.

Do we really believe that anything as wonderful and complicated as this chameleon is truly the result of random chance spun out over kazillions of years?

Nah. It’s God’s stuff. He made them–and He must’ve had fun doing it.

Wonderful Ant-Eaters–Plus Incredibly Moronic Narration

I love animal videos, and these assorted ant-eating mammals are just irresistibly cool. But I can’t decide whether to advise you to mute the narrator or to leave it on and marvel at an appallingly bad script that had me sitting open-mouthed with astonishment. This may be the worst script ever written. I mean, it’s got it all–Evolution as a person, flat jokes, and bathroom humor. The only thing missing is someone to stand behind you and pull your hair.

Maybe it’d be best to play it safe and mute it, just in case whatever this guy has is contagious.

I offer it as a kind of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” item.

Bonus Video: Cat, Meet Otter

The nooze is its usual rancid self today. I think I prefer some of God’s stuff this morning. Like this:

Because otters are so acrobatic and graceful in the water, I can’t tell whether there’s just one otter in this little pond or several. When they maneuver underwater, it’s confusing. Certainly this cat’s confused. And the other is just as curious about the cat. We wonder: might an unusual friendship come of this? It’s a wild otter, not a household pet. All we know is that, in dealing with animals of such high intelligence as cats and otters, any prediction is a long shot.

A Present for ‘Bell Mountain’ Readers (2017)

Image result for images of prehistoric mammals

It hasn’t been a whole year since I posted this video, but a lot of you have joined since then, and I think you might enjoy it.

When I was a boy I used to have a dream in which I crouched in the mouth of a cave while a stampede of assorted prehistoric animals thundered by–sort of like in this video. I’d give much to have that dream again!

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