Erlene requested How Great Thou Art–and who doesn’t love this hymn? I chose this rendition by Burl Ives: not the greatest sound reproduction, but I couldn’t resist the video. Beautiful flowing streams like that whisper to us, “God is nigh, God created me, He created you… God is nigh.” So you may have to turn up the volume a bit.
I’m getting antsy for Obann, and I want to flush the day’s nooze out of my brain… so let’s join Mr. Nature on a prehistoric safari.
Hi, Mr. Nature here–and the video is in Hindi, so I have no idea what the narrator is saying; but I know a Deinotherium when I see one. Well, okay, there are no more Deinotheriums, only pictures and video recreations.
These are related to the elephants we know and love today, and lived in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some of them were considerably bigger than modern elephants. Plus it looks like their tusks are on backwards. Deinotherium’s tusks were attached to the lower jaw instead of coming out of the upper, like an elephant’s.
We do not know how this animal used its tusks. Scraping bark off trees? Maybe. They look so much like elephants that the two must have had a lot in common. Except for those tusks. The more you look at them, the more puzzling it gets. What good did their tusks do them, down there?
But God the Designer doesn’t make mistakes, and doesn’t create living things that don’t work. However those tusks functioned, we can be sure they served the animal well.
Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and today our safari takes us back to South Africa in the 19th century.
Once upon a time there was a zebra there called the quagga, more horse-like than other zebras, with tasty meat and a temperament that was thought to be amenable to domestication. But the last wild quagga was shot in 1878, and all we have left are a few taxidermy specimens and even fewer photographs.
Like the passenger pigeon, the dodo, and more other animals than I like to think about, the quagga was killed off by humans. Today there is a Quagga Project trying to breed them back via closely related living zebras, but it hasn’t been successful yet. There are still things about the quagga’s genetics that remain unknown.
To me all zebras are beautiful, and the quagga was no exception. It’s a shame that we don’t have them with us anymore–and it’s our fault.
God has promised that He will restore His creation. I trust the quagga will be restored to its rightful place in that creation. And I trust the Lord will make us better and wiser and kindlier than we’ve been so far.
Hi, Mr. Nature here–with another peek into some of the surprises God built into our world when He was creating it.
The ocean sunfish gets its name from its habit of basking sideways on the surface of the water, many miles out to sea. Because it doesn’t often visit shallow water, few people will ever see one of these. And a few who do will freak out. The ocean sunfish is the world’s largest bony fish, and yet it looks like only half a fish. Its favorite food strikes us as pretty insubstantial: jellyfish.
This creature is slow, ponderous, unable to maneuver quickly, without any means of defense, yet living in a dangerous environment, full of predators–nevertheless, here it is. If we knew the sunfish better, we might discover that it is ideally designed for the kind of life it leads
Two nights with no sleep at all, plus steady sinus toothache (that’s when all the teeth–yeah, I said all of ’em–on one side of your head hurt all at once), and I’m feeling a bit frayed around the edges. I’m thinking seriously of just going back to bed and hoping sheer fatigue will overcome me.
But first allow me to indulge myself with this nice video of newts swimming around at night in someone’s backyard pond in England. Graceful, aren’t they? There’s something about them that I find very soothing.
Meanwhile, everybody, please pray for me, ask the Lord to lift this affliction from me: in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mr. Nature here–with a prehistoric animal that lasted into historic times: the pygmy mammoth of Wrangel Island. It was still alive when the Egyptians were building the pyramids.
In all respects except size it was a regular woolly mammoth. Wrangel Island is in the Arctic Ocean, just off Siberia. Today it’s frozen. But a few thousand years ago, mammoths lived there. The ground today is littered with tusks and bones.
Islands are funny. Some animals that are small on the mainland grow very large if they’re on an island for many generations. And some that are large on the mainland grow small if they’re confined to an island. Hence the pygmy elephants and hippos, and giant dormice, of various Mediterranean islands.
Think of a mammoth the size of a pony. And marvel at the work of God’s hands.
Mr. Nature here. Somehow the combination of bright red cardinals, pure white snow, and green pine boughs strikes me as irresistibly Christmasy. I’ll bet I’m not the only one, either.
God’s handiwork is all around us, all the time, sometimes whispering, sometimes singing, sometimes shouting, “God is nigh! God is nigh.”
Mr. Nature here–and today our safari takes us to tropical shores around the world.
These small fish, mudskippers, have intrigued me ever since I first encountered them, as a little boy, in Bertha Morris Parker’s Natural History–and in the Sunday color comics, Mark Trail.
But I never knew, until I found this video today, that they could, well, scream.
Mudskippers live in intertidal zones and when the tide goes out, they emerge from their burrows and wander around on the mud, feed, mate, court, and fight over territory. They can breathe air through their skin, like frogs: which means they don’t dare dry out or they can’t breathe; but as long as they can stay moist, they can live out of water. And roll their eyes independently of one another. Like chameleons.
As for the screaming, suffice it to say I have doubts as to the reliability of this assertion. But even without the screaming–they can make other sounds as well–it makes for pretty cool video.
God’s stuff–just when you think you’ve figured it out, you run into mudskippers.
One of these days I’m gonna have to have Jandra’s pet bird–with teeth, claws, and a somewhat nasty temper–featured on the cover of one of my books. Meanwhile, here’s a bird in our own world that has claws on its wings.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I didn’t mean to hit you with a prehistoric critter today, but this video caught my eye and I just can’t help sharing it with you.
Andrewsarchus, from Mongolia, is kind of hard to study because there’s only its yard-long skull that’s been preserved–and only one of those. But if you’ve ever stood in front of that skull, on display at the American Museum of Natural History, as I have, you will stand in awe. I mean, this beast had jaw-muscles as thick as a strong man’s upper arms. It could probably eat your car. In fact, that’s what I think it did eat–cars. With the people still in them.
God’s creative energy–there’s just no reining it in!