Isn’t this just beautiful? The red salander, Pseudotriton ruber ruber–when I was a boy, you could find them in my neighborhood. That was before the political party that claims to be “for” the environment paved everything over.
My friends and I collected salamanders. The most common were the little redbacks. They were just about everywhere. But every now and then you’d find a red salamander–bright red, speckled with black, with a salmon-pink underbelly. Like living jewels.
I still look for salamanders, occasionally, but the only ones left are redbacks. There are no more gorgeous red salamanders around here. They had to go, to make way for nail salons and trendy restaurants. And now, high rise tenements. Makes our town more urban, dontcha know.
In the restitution of all things we shall see Creation as the Lord Our God created it. And I’m sure He won’t forget to include these salamanders.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here: and our safari today takes us into the world created by artist Rudolph Zallinger in his 1947 mural, The Age of Reptiles.
I am particularly interested in Podokesaurus–because it has a cool name, hardly anyone has ever heard of it, and it’s so much smaller than all the other dinosaurs. In the picture above, you can just make it out: it’s that tiny little thing just below the Plateosaurus (the big purple thing) that’s bending over to much some plants.
Podokesaurus was discovered in 1910, in Massachusetts, by a Mt. Holyoke College geology professor and her sister, who were taking a walk together and happened to spot traces of bones in a boulder that had somehow split open–and what are the odds of that? The original fossil was destroyed in a fire in 1917, but the casts were saved; and in 1958 another Podokesaurus specimen was found. This one, scientists estimated, grew maybe up to nine feet long. The one found at the college was only three feet long.
When I was a little boy I used to gaze in fascination at pictures of this mural: must’ve spent hours doing it. This was another world. I couldn’t tear myself away.
Nowadays Zallinger’s renderings of dinosaurs are considered wildly inaccurate; but in 1947 they were Settled Science.
One thing about Podokesaurus–it was small enough to hide. Keep your eyes peeled, next time you go camping.
We’ve all seen white swans, haven’t we? But for a lot of us, the idea of a black swan would be just a romantic notion, or a bit of poetry.
Not so! Mr. Nature here again: and as long as we’re on the subject of Australian bird life, I’m here to tell you Australia has black swans–and here they are. They sound, to me, like musical instruments that need to be played by someone who has practiced. But it would be a nice sound to hear in the morning, don’t you think?
I don’t know about you, but just listening to these birds carrying on makes me want to laugh, too.
Mr. Nature here, with proof that God does have a sense of humor. He must have, or He wouldn’t have created kookaburras.
Although found only in Australia, the kookaburra’s distinctive loony laughter was a staple in every jungle movie and TV show for decades–and for all I know, still is. The jungle can be in Africa, South America, India, or the Caribbean, it doesn’t matter where–no matter where it is, you hear the kookaburra. Tarzan, Sheena, Jungle Jim, Ramar–they all went about their business with the kookaburra in the soundtrack.
Mr. Nature here–and to this day I have never seen a luna moth. I have to settle for video.
Here’s one that got rained on and needs to dry out before it can fly again. Meanwhile, it seems perfectly content to rest on this man’s finger and have its picture taken.
God creates beauty, for His own pleasure and for ours.
(Note: “Lunar” is an error. It’s “luna,” not “lunar.”)
Requested by Erlene–Here We Are, by Dallas Holm.
I have always loved that exquisite moment when the setting sun turns the water of the bay to molten copper: God’s own handiwork, a masterpiece. The greatest of artists, God never needs to sign His work.
In Bell Mountain No. 5, The Fugitive Prince, Wytt entertains himself by catching and eating lacewings, which people in Obann call “fairy flies.”
But he really shouldn’t, because lacewings are about the most beneficial insects you’ll ever meet. Their larvae eat all kinds of plant pests and parasites, and the adults pollinate your garden. Plus they’re exquisitely, delicately beautiful. You can buy lacewings to release in your garden; their services are always in demand.
You’ll see in the video how the female lacewing lays her eggs on silken stalks to protect them from getting eaten by predators.
And the adults have lovely golden eyes.
This is Mr. Nature, and this is more of God’s stuff.
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.
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.