Tag Archives: mr. nature

Has Anybody Seen the Nandi Bear?

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It’s hard to write this up as Mr. Nature, because the Nandi Bear might not exist. But it’s been a staple of East African folklore for a very long time, and I am told there are people in Kenya who are absolutely sure the beast is real–and very much to be avoided.

It is described as something between an oversized hyena and an undersized bear. As far as scientists can tell, bears have never lived in Africa south of the Sahara. Ice Age hyenas were much bigger and stronger than today’s hyenas, and they ate mammoths and rhinos. Eating a human wouldn’t pose much of a challenge.

Is it possible that an incredibly rare, powerful, nasty relative of the hyena prowls the forests of Kenya? People do sometimes attribute unidentified, fatal animal attacks on humans to the Nandi Bear. Hard to study an animal when no one who ever sees it lives to tell the tale.

And then there’s the basic problem of cryptozoology: no specimens. Because if you do come up with a specimen–like when fishermen first caught a coelacanth–it immediately ceases to be cryptozoological and becomes just plain zoological! What’s a poor cryptozoologist to do? His situation is impossible.

Mr. Nature: Wolf Spider and Her Babies

Kreeg-ah, mangani, Mr. Nature here! We usually think of parental care as something mammals and birds do: but there are bugs and fish that provide it, too.

The mother wolf spider first carries her egg-case with her wherever she goes, and then the babies–dozens of them. The babies in this video look like they’re just about ready to head out on their own. But until they are, the mother will carry them: and if one happens to fall off, she will find it and retrieve it. You would have seen her do that in this video, if only the human would get out of the way.

God’s stuff–He has thought of everything.

Mr. Nature: Is This Really a Rodent?

Not that these animals are very often kept as pets, but I couldn’t resist this video.

God seems to enjoy improvising on a basic theme, like a jazz musician. These South America maras–members of the cavy family, which includes guinea pigs–have long legs and bunny-ears. But they’re not rabbits; they’re rodents. They live in semiarid grasslands in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia and grow up to weigh from 20 to 35 pounds. We don’t have rodents that big in North America. But South America also has the capybara, the world’s biggest rodent–even bigger than the mara.

God’s stuff–cool!

‘Sanity Break: Bush Baby’ (2016)

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Well, the jackhammers have stopped and the leaf-blowers have taken over. I feel like I woke up in Hell.

Click the video embedded in the post to see something much nicer than anything I’m going to see around here today.


Really, I’d rather have the bush baby. God’s stuff is so much better than ours.

The Wonder of Autumn

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Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here! And for this safari, all I’ve got to do is look out the window.

I could have sworn that on Friday the leaves of all these maple trees were green; but on Saturday morning, they were all gold. Which means they turned overnight? How did they do that? I mean, hey, that was really fast! (My wife says yes, they were still green on Friday: she noticed, too.)

I could look up and study the natural processes by which green maple leaves turn to gold; but I think I’d rather just marvel at it. Come on, now–the leaves turned color overnight! Is that cool?

This is Mr. Nature, loving God’s stuff.

New Jersey’s Baddest Dinosaur

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Imagine a dinosaur about halfway between a Raptor and a T. rex, combining the nastiest features of both–crushing jaws full of dagger-teeth, with long, curved claws, smaller and more maneuverable than Rex, bigger and stronger than a Raptor.

Hi! Mr. Nature here, introducing Dryptosaurus, New Jersey’s most impressive predatory dinosaur. Its remains were discovered in 1866, in a geologic formation that I used to visit in my own fossil-hunting days. To this day we don’t have anything like a complete skeleton; but we do have enough to indicate a highly dangerous creature probably related to the much more famous Tyrannosaurus rex.

One of the things I loved about the “Jurassic World” movies was the artificially created dinosaur, “Indominus rex.” To me it looked just like a scaled-up Dryptosaurus–and that would be scary!

I like to imagine Dryptosaurus stalking its prey by night under the stars, along the dunes of Long Beach Island. I resist the temptation to volunteer anyone as prey.

A Pause that Refreshes: Head-Bobbing Lizard

These Australian bearded lizards have become very popular as pets. Here, a beardie shares a threat display with his reflection in a mirror. Like a cat, he goes off to the side to look behind the mirror. I never saw a lizard do that before.

Mr. Nature says the beardie is a member of the Agamid family of lizards, which live in the Old World. Here in the New World, our big lizard family is the Iguanids. Although Agamids and Iguanids aren’t closely related, you might swear they were. Familiar Iguanid lizards have close counterparts among Agamids: the horned lizard (aka “horned toad”) and the Australian thorny moloch look like chips off the same old block. Even funnier, Iguanids and Agamids share a lot of the same behaviors–like head-bobbing as a threat display. Most Iguanids, from the little dime-store “chameleons” (green anoles, actually: not really chameleons at all) to the biggest iguanas, the males all head-bob at each other, usually serving as an alternative to actual fighting, which saves a lot of wear and tear on the lizards. (When the females fight, it’s for keeps.) And so do a lot of the Agamids.

I wonder why God set it up that way.

The Hungry Baby Cardinal

Linda loved these “Mr. Nature” posts, so here’s one for her. As you can see, the baby cardinal’s not in the nest, which means he can fly, sort of. But he still wants to be fed, and he’s keeping his mother quite busy.

This summer, the cardinals in our yard had a problem child who flew out of the nest–without a lot of experience to do it well–and landed in the overgrown jungle of our garden, where he peeped and peeped rather piteously. I wished I could do something to help, but thought it wiser not to intervene. The mother and father kept going back and forth, feeding and comforting the baby. They finally got his self-confidence back up to where it should be, and all three safely flew away.

God’s stuff…

‘The Return of the Hellbender’ (2016)

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I’m fully behind these efforts to bring back the hellbender, North America’s largest salamander: as big as a grown man’s forearm.


These salamanders need to live in clear, clean, cold, swiftly-running streams–so you can see how they might be in trouble. Wherever there’s a healthy hellbender, there’s a healthy stream.

I think we need more babbling brooks and less babbling politicians cutting deals with developers–don’t you?

Mr. Nature: The Lyrebird Imitates Just About Everything

The lyrebird of Australia imitates all the other birds in the forest, and then some. You name it, the lyrebird does it. And if we didn’t have the video to go with it, you’d never be able to tell the lyrebird from the real thing. I wonder how many lyrebirds got parts as kookaburras in movie soundtracks.

Hi, I’m Mr. Nature… and this is God’s stuff. I’ll bet He had fun creating this one!

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