Tag Archives: mr. nature

Mr. Nature: The Biggest Dinosaur

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with what may be the biggest dinosaur known so far: Argentinosaurus.

As paleontologists fan out into territories untouched by earlier fossil-hunters, they find cooler and cooler dinosaurs. Argentinosaurus was published in 1993 and is called by Wikipedia “the largest dinosaur known from uncontroversial evidence.” Which means its title is only temporary, pending further study and new discoveries. It is estimated, from incomplete remains, to have been about 100 feet long and weighed about 100 tons. Give or take a few.

Now that’s big!

The video gives you an idea what this creature was like. It is based on speculation, and study of the bones, comparison with similar dinosaurs, etc. Please feel free to ignore the evolution chatter in the narration. I always do.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than any other, gave the world the concept of dinosaurs as lively, warm-blooded, reasonably intelligent animals–once told me that one of the things he enjoys about dinosaurs is thinking about the pleasure God must have had in creating them. Yes, I like to think about that, too.

No one has seen a living dinosaur. We can never be sure that our reconstructions of them and their world are entirely on target. I love them because they fill me with a sense of awe: “What hath God wrought!”

As far as we know, dinosaurs no longer exist on earth. But God has the entire universe at His disposal, in which to do His pleasure. In speaking of these creatures, it’s a good idea to leave absolute certainty behind.

Admire God’s handiwork, and wonder.


God is Nigh

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Our ancient dogwood tree has just come into flower on this Easter morning. It always did have a fine sense of timing.

We’ve been here 40 years, but the tree was here first. Dogwoods can live up to 80 years, says Mr. Nature; but we don’t know when this tree was planted.

Even more remarkable, on the very same day, our ancient tulip has bloomed. Tulips live for 20 years, sometimes a little more. But this, too, was here when we moved in. It used to burst forth into one spectacular, bright red flower. Now it has four instead of one. We hope the squirrels don’t eat the flowers, as used to be their custom. They left it alone last year.

These (even the squirrels) are God’s handiwork. He imagined them, and then created them. They are here because He put them here. Their beauty is one of His countless gifts to us.

But even more than beauty, the dogwood and the tulip, and all the rest of God’s creation, have something important to tell us: God is nigh. Always.


A Welcome Weed

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The first plant to come up in my wife’s little garden, this year and last year, is the purple deadnettle.

Hi, Mr. Nature here–and it’s called the “dead” nettle because it doesn’t have a sting like the real nettle. It’s a member of the mint family, memorable for its delicate purple flowers and its leaves that are arranged like a stack of dishes. It grows all over the place, around here.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than anybody else, popularized the concept of warm-blooded, active dinosaurs–once told me one of the things that most draws him to God is the self-evident delight which the Creator takes in His creation. I agree! Even this fallen world, the Father stocks with beauty. Even the weeds!

I was happy when I read that a lot of people have come to appreciate the deadnettle for its beauty and are now planting it on purpose, usually as a border for a garden, and because it so delights our eyes.

Give thanks for the beauty of God’s handiwork: it tells us something good about its Maker.


Good Grief! A Screaming Frog

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with a frog that screams when you touch him. Mrs. Nature’s friend sent us this video. I never saw or heard a frog like this before and I have no idea what kind of frog it is or where it comes from. Even Mr. Nature doesn’t know everything.

The frog, as many frogs do, also is able to puff himself up. This is a defense against snakes. I don’t know what the scream is a defense against. I doubt it would impress a snake.


The American Zebra

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Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a prehistoric critter that I never heard of until this day–when I saw its picture on the side of a U-Haul truck. It’s amazing, what you can learn from unexpected sources.

Hagerman’s horse, aka the American zebra, was discovered in Idaho almost a hundred years ago and is Idaho’s state fossil. (Our New Jersey state fossil is Hadrosaurus, whose remains first taught us that some dinosaurs were bipeds.) It belongs to the genus Equus, which includes all modern horses, and its skeleton most closely resembles that of a zebra–hence the nickname.

How do we know it had stripes like a zebra? Simple–we don’t! All we have is bones, so the picture (above) is just a good guess. Won’t we look like dopes if it turns out Hagerman’s horse had purple polka dots?

I like to think of zebras roaming wild on America’s plains, and it would delight me to see one. But the American zebra is extinct–and it can’t be due to Climbit Change because nobody had refrigerators, air conditioners, or toilet paper back then.

But don’t be surprised if God brings it back when He restores His whole creation.


The Giant Dormouse

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Hi, Mr. Nature here–with the giant dormouse. It’s closely related to the little sleepy dormouse you know from Alice in Wonderland. But these dormice were the size of large rats, lived on islands in the Mediterranean (Majorca, Minorca, and Malta), and are now extinct.

These animals are an example of the rational order of God’s creation, as seen in island life.

On Mediterranean islands long ago, we find animals that are usually very large, such as elephants and hippos, scaled down to a size more easily accommodated by the island. But then we find animals that are normally very small, like dormice, grown large when they live on islands and predators are not abundant. Up in the Russian Arctic, Wrangel Island had pygmy woolly mammoths that stuck around until sometime around 2000 B.C.

Island ecosystems are fascinating, but also fragile. The giant lemurs of Madagascar, and the even more gigantic moas (birds bigger than grown men) of New Zealand are no more, thanks to humans, dogs, and cats. And that, scientists think, is what happened to the giant dormice.


A Cozy Little Snake

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with an animal that possibly lives in your own back yard without your ever having seen it: DeKay’s snake, aka the brown snake.

I know, I know, quite a few of you are afraid of snakes. But these are very small, totally harmless, and of a very meek temperament: I’ve caught many of them by hand, and not one has ever tried to bite me. Anyhow, they couldn’t hurt you if they wanted to, and they seem to know it. Most of them, when caught and handled, calm down in a matter of seconds. They used to be pretty common in my neighborhood, but what with the perpetual war on nature that goes on in New Jersey, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen one. I miss them.

These little snakes live in leaf litter, where their small size and generally brown or greyish coloration helps them blend into the background. They eat bugs and slugs and grubs, and the occasional earthworm–in fact, they eat a lot of things that any gardener would want them to eat.

Again, they never try to bite when you pick them up. No self-respecting Northern water snake would ever let you get away with that. DeKay’s snake is not a very exciting snake–which is the way I like them.

So there you have it, more of God’s stuff–a little animal that’s pretty to look at, easy to handle, and does no harm whatsoever. It deserves the right to go about its peaceful little business unmolested.


God’s Stuff: A Cozy Bat

Hi, Mr. Nature here–and this is a baby fruit bat getting petted, and loving it.

You don’t think of bats as creatures that will respond to affection, but obviously they do. I think you can say that of most animals. And I think that tells us something about God’s Creation, and our own place in it. Another kind of animal, under unusual circumstances, might form a bond with a bat. But only a human being, for all our faults, will seek out a bat for that very purpose.

Incidentally, the oldest fossil bat ever discovered was already a full-blown bat, rather like the little guy in the video. Darwin himself worried that his theory would fall apart if no fossils were discovered of any animal on its way to evolving into a bat. His followers are not that honest.


Health Experts Get Food Poisoning

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Hi, everybody! Mr. Nature here, filling in for Lee with some of man’s stuff, instead of God’s stuff: the difference being God’s stuff always works, but ours only works sometimes.

News item from a ProMed email:

Nineteen employees of the Winnipeg Regional Health Assembly, at a conference held recently at St. Boniface Hospital, came down with… food poisoning! The event was an “internally catered lecture”–I think that means they got hospital food–and we are told the likely culprit was the sandwiches.

With the best will in the world, anything done by imperfect human beings cannot help going wrong from time to time–sometimes disastrously wrong. Happily, none of these poisoned employees died. And think how the patients at the hospital must have felt, if they heard about it. Bon appetite.

The moral of the story: Never, never, never entrust fallible and often sinful human beings with any more power than you can help giving them. It’s good to limit power with checks and balances!


This Bug’s Nickname: Cow Killer

Hi, Mr. Nature here with some more of God’s stuff: the velvet ant, aka “Cow Killer.” And before you get too cross with the guy who made this video, let me reassure you that it has a happy ending.

The velvet ant is actually a wingless wasp, not a real ant; and it has a stinger that would do any wasp proud. You would be extremely well advised not to pick one up in your bare hand. When you see the size of that sticker, you’ll understand how this bug got its nickname. It can’t actually kill a cow, but you don’t want to mess with it.

Cow killers live down South, and some of you are sure to be familiar with them. They prey on smaller bugs and otherwise do no harm. And you have to admit they have a nice color scheme.

There’s more to Creation than we will ever know.


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