Tag Archives: mr. nature

Mr. Nature: The Amazing Colossal Giant Centipede


Imagine a centipede that’s six feet long, maybe a little longer, and weighs a hundred pounds, and maybe more. Yipes!

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and today our safari takes us to a tropical forest in what is now somewhere in, I guess, Oklahoma: a lot has changed since then. And there are these things crawling around through the ferns… Not really centipedes; but probably, if you saw one, you would cry out, “Eeyah! A giant centipede!”

Be of good cheer: “fossil material suggests it may have been herbivorous,” scientists have said. Uh, what if the suggestion is wrong? Not to worry–no one has seen a live Arthropleura in donkey’s years.

Why, once upon a time, were bugs so big? Some scientists believe there was more oxygen in the air than there is now. Let me point out that, where fossils of these giant bugs are found, we don’t find the fossils of gigantic birds, chameleons, or anteaters. Anyway, who knows? It’s God’s planet and He has done as He pleased, without explaining it to us. But He’s certainly left enough hints to keep us busy.

I guess the closest I’ll ever come to Arthropleura is the “giant millipede,” eight inches long, that they had in one of our local pet stores and which they let me handle: millipedes don’t bite. It was a gentle little soul, although its feet tickled. Maybe Arthropleura was peaceful and benign.

All I know is, it would take my breath away, to see one.

Mr. Nature: The Axolotl

Cute little fellow, ain’t he? Or she–I can’t tell with axolotls.

Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here. Let me tell you two cool things about axolotls.

They can grow back body parts that get injured and lost–a foot, a leg, or a piece of the tail. Other salamanders can do that, too; I once saw a really big salamander that had five feet (two on one leg, where an injured foot healed but a new one grew anyway).

Even cooler, axolotls are actually baby salamanders (very closely related to the tiger salamander) which never metamorphose into the adult form so they can live on land. They remain in the water all their lives, never shed their gills, and–like a lot of college students–never grow up, even though they can reproduce. They do grow bigger as time goes on, but they never complete the ordinary salamander life cycle. Reminds me of that old saying, “You can’t stay young, but you can be immature forever.”

Axolotls are rare; they live in fresh water in and around Mexico City, and urbanization subjects their environment to high stress. There are probably more axolotls kept as pets, and captive-bred, than can be found in the wild today.

They deserve to survive–which, I think, will test the kindness, patience, and benevolence of the human race.

Mr. Nature: The Cat that Wasn’t a Cat

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Hi, Mr. Nature here–with Hoplophoneus, a graceful prehistoric predator that looked like a cat, ate like a cat, probably moved like a cat… but according to paleontologists, wasn’t a cat.

I became fascinated by this creature when I was a boy, back when they were still calling it a cat, possibly an ancestor of the famous sabertooth. Details of the skeleton, we are now told, are different enough from a cat’s skeleton as to make it a cat wannabe.

But never mind. It’s still an animal well worth looking at, and I wonder now if it’s going to turn up in Obann. Cross an ocelot with a sabertoothed tiger, and you’d get something very like a Hoplophoneus.

I dream of seeing these animals someday, alive and real, when God restores His creation in all its former glory. But for now, the closest I can come is to put them in my books and let ’em rip.

Sanity Break: Friendly Quokkas

Mr. Nature here–and our video safari today takes us back to Australia for another visit with the quokkas.

Old-time sailors named the place Rat Nest Island; but the quokkas aren’t rats, but marsupials. And very friendly marsupials, at that. Their enjoyment of human company has made their home a popular tourist destination.

These animals never learned to be afraid of human beings–because for once we didn’t give them any reason to! Let’s pray that never changes. More of this world needs to be a lot more like this little island.

Lost! 200-foot-long Dinosaur

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Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with today’s safari into the incredible. Maybe even the preposterous.

Once upon a time, or so they say, there was a dinosaur–a sauropod, like a brontosaur or Diplodocus–that grew to be 200 feet long. Twice as long as an NBA basketball court. Edward D. Cope named it Amphicoelias. With all the new discoveries, in recent years, of super-sized sauropods all over the world, interest in Amphicoelias has been renewed.

The key piece of this dinosaur was a single vertebra 8.9 feet long. And sometime after 1878… it got lost.

Now, how do you lose a 9-foot-long dinosaur bone? It’s not like it could have slipped behind the couch. What kind of dingbat loses something nine feet long? “I coulda sworn I had it in this closet, with the Christmas tree ornaments…” “It somehow got lost when we moved…” Really!

We still have drawings of this bone, made by scientists who studied it, but who wants to take the kids to a museum to see drawings?

And so a land animal as long as two blue whales laid end-to-end… is lost. Like a spare set of car keys. Like that carefully boxed complete set of 1961 baseball cards that should be up on that shelf in your bedroom, but isn’t. Alas and alas!

We can only hope it turns up in someone’s garage someday.

Mr. Nature: One Big Deer

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Hi, Mr. Nature here again–with one of my favorite artists, Charles R. Knight.

This is his famous painting of Megaloceros, the “Irish Elk,” the deer with the biggest antlers ever. Best known from the Ice Age, there have always been stories of this creature surviving into historical times in Ireland. No one’s been able to prove it, or disprove it.

Ice Age people saw it, though. They hunted it, ate it, and painted its picture on the walls of caves.

This is just one of incalculably many creatures that we can’t find anymore. My own belief is that God, with the whole universe at His disposal, has put them elsewhere. Maybe someday God will let us see these animals again.

I sometimes wonder if He might have given Charles R. Knight a peek at them.

‘Sanity Medicine: Johnny the Octopus’ (2016)

They can also figure out how to get out of a jar.

How would an octopus know how to get at the contents of a jar with a twist-off cap? I mean, it’s not something he’s seen before, and learned how to do by watching others do it. What would happen if you let an octopus watch a lot of chess games?


Anyway, here’s some of God’s stuff to start the day–the intelligence of the octopus. God’s creation: that’s how He made them, for His own good pleasure.

Mr. Nature: Marsh Lights

Hi, Mr. Nature here!

I have to admit I’ve never seen this for myself: “marsh lights,” also known as “will-o’-the-wisp” when they move around. Lights that you see at night in the swamps. When no one else is there.

Folklore has it that the will-o’-the-wisp is a mischievous spirit that leads unsuspecting victims into the swamp and then gets them lost. Science has it that these are methane gas created by decomposing plant matter. Tolkien had it that they were candles carried by the spirits of those who’d died in the swamp and sunk below the mud.

Kind of spooky, don’t you think? I mean, when you see what looks to be a lantern bobbing around at night, it’s disconcerting when you realize no one’s holding it.

I must also admit that I don’t understand what they’re saying in that Indian TV clip that I used. But it does show you that will-o’-the-wisp can turn up anywhere in the world where there are swamps.

Here’s a video with the marsh lights caught in the act. Watch patiently, and you’ll see them dart across the scream from time to time.

The video comes complete with raccoon. Totally cool!

Mr. Nature: Flying Snakes

Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here. And today we’re off in search of flying snakes.

Once upon a time, people believed that Arabia bred flying snakes which would sometimes migrate to populated areas and become a deadly plague. Herodotus wrote all about it–and was pooh-poohed by later generations.

But in real life, Indonesia is home to the paradise tree snake–a snake which glides through the air from tree to tree. So maybe Herodotus wasn’t as all wet as everybody thought. (Hint: He usually turns out not to be!)

Ah! you say. But what does a flying serpent hunt?

You’re gonna love this.

Flying lizards!

God’s stuff–cooler than we ever would have thought of.

Crows Bearing Gifts

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Here are some of little Gabi’s collection of gifts from crows.

Mr. Nature here, with something that sounds like folklore, but isn’t.

Did you know some crows–not all of them–give gifts to human beings who have done them a good turn? I didn’t. But it seems crows will decide they really like a certain person, and show it by giving gifts.

One of their favorite humans is an 8-year-old girl in Seattle who’s been feeding crows in her back yard and receiving gifts from them in return (https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026). She has amassed quite a collection–pretty stones and bits of glass, screws, a discarded light bulb, a Lego piece, and a little plastic heart (her favorite). She leaves peanuts on a tray, and the crows leave gifts.

Crows are smart! Really smart. In Japan they’ve learned to deposit hard-to-crack nuts on street intersections. Cars run over the nuts; and then, when the light turns red and the cars stop, the crows fly down to pick up the goodies.

As Rev. D. James Kennedy used to say, “Ain’t chance grand?” But he and we know it wasn’t chance or evolution that gave crows their smarts: this is how God created them. And I’ll bet He had a good time doing it.

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