When the 20th century started, this animal didn’t exist, scientifically. There were rumors of it, coming out of central Africa, but nothing official. Not until 1901.
Hi, Mr. Nature here, with the only animal in the giraffe family that’s not a giraffe–the okapi. This one’s in a zoo. The wild ones live in the Congo rain forest.
This gorgeous animal illustrates an unsolvable problem in cryptozoology: once a cryptic creature actually turns up, it immediately ceases to be crytozoology and becomes just plain zoology. The poor cryptozoologists, by definition, can’t have any specimens!
One of my aunts gave me a wonderful toy okapi when I was about five years old: wish I still had it. It may be in my brother’s toy box.
We pray God defends and preserves these beautiful animals that He’s created.
This is from before we all went sloth-mad:
There were a lot of ground sloths, once upon a time. They were all big, and the biggest one, Megatherium, was bigger than an elephant. Artists used to show them being preyed on by saber-toothed cats, but that was before we learned that Megatherium was virtually immune to attack by anything short of an anti-tank gun.
Linda mentioned this yesterday: Ouroboros, “that eateth his own tail,” an ancient symbol of sorcery.
Hi! Mr. Nature here, and welcome to the world of folklore and real stuff. The Worm Ouroboros, in addition to being the title of a really cool fantasy by E.R. Eddison, is folklore. Just like those stories of the Hoop Snake, down South, which supposedly takes its tail in its mouth and rolls down a hill.
But there’s also the armadillo lizard of South Africa, and here he is:
Why does he grip his tail in his mouth? Is it some kind of lizard yoga exercise? No–it’s a defense against being swallowed by a snake. Who wants to swallow a ball of spikes?
I used to have a couple of armadillo lizards. In the total absence of anything to be afraid of, mine never bit their tails. They were spunky little lizards, with a lot of go to them.
But of no use whatsoever in any kind of magic. (Not that I tried!)
That fragmentary skeleton up there is all that remains of a creature which its discoverer says is the oldest known bird–so old, that birds couldn’t possibly have evolved from dinosaurs. This makes him a bad guy and his science “problematic.”
Mr. Nature here, on this extremely humid Fourth of July, along with the “Triassic bird,” Protoavis. Dr. Sankar Chatterjee was a good guy when he was just digging up dinosaurs and thecodonts in the Southwest: but if Protoavis really is a bird, like he says it is, and if it really lived alongside early dinosaurs in the Triassic Period, like he says it did, then a whole lot of pet scientific paradigms and just-so stories have to go down the drain–and scientists hate it when that happens.
As some of you know, I’m a radical agnostic about the age of the earth. Can’t help it: the Bible doesn’t say how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before they sinned and got expelled, and were made subject to mortality. I suspect it was a very long time indeed.
But one thing’s sure: Protoavis has no business turning up in the Triassic fossil record, it’s unforgivably rude, and Dr. Chatterjee ought to be ashamed of himself. Why, he’ll be doing Climbit Change Denial next!
That funny little sound you hear in the background is Protoavis snickering.
These video clips, taken at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, preserve the memory of an animal that is now supposedly extinct–the thylacine, aka “Tasmanian tiger,” once upon a time the largest living marsupial carnivore. The last one died at the zoo in 1936.
Mr. Nature here, with an animal that I wish was still alive. And it may be. Over the years, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have claimed to have sighted living thylacines on the Australian mainland. Some of them back up their claims with videos, a few of which look quite convincing. So it’s possible there may be a few of them left, roaming the outback. The long, stiff tails, and the stripes along the back, are distinctive: no other animal has them.
Jack and Ellayne encountered a much larger version of a thylacine in Lintum Forest, carrying off, in its massive jaws, the front half of a knuckle-bear.
I don’t think God likes it when we kill off members of His creation.
But I also believe He’ll bring them back, someday, somewhere–if He hasn’t done it already, someplace where they’re safe from us.
Hi, Mr. Nature here–with a nice lizard that’s not really anywhere near as big as the camera makes it look.
This is the chuckwalla, of the American Southwest. It lives in the desert and defends itself by scrunching in between rocks and inflating itself, making it very, very hard to get him out. It’s a member of the iguana family, and a vegetarian. There are several species with assorted colors and markings; and like many iguanids, the chuckwalla can change its colors a little bit, depending on the temperature and his mood.
I remember these critters from the Mark Trail Sunday color comics in the paper. You could really learn a lot from that comic strip.
I expect a chuckwalla would make a very pleasing reptile pet, provided you were careful to keep him warm and dry enough. Desert lizards, alas, can be tricky to keep healthy. So it’s probably better to stick with more adaptable animals.
Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a critter I’d never heard of before today–the Owl Moth. My friend Susan saw one on her porch last night.
Owl moths are native to eastern North America and also found in Asia and Australia. It’s kind of a rare thing to spot one. The one in the photo is probably the wrong species, but they’re all pretty much the same. It’s the big eye-spots that make it look like an owl staring at you–especially if you’re out at night with just a flashlight.
As Rev. D. James Kennedy used to say, “Ain’t chance grand?”
These striking moths are as God created them. God’s stuff, as we say.
Have you ever wondered about the goofy face cats make after they smell something? According to Mr. Nature, cats have a Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the mouth and the funny face is made as they draw the interesting smell up to the top of the mouth so they can process it more fully. It’s hard for us to understand because we don’t have a Jacobson’s organ. Maybe if we did, we’d go around sniffing other people’s feet and making funny faces. We would also get arrested.
Jambo, backyard safari fans! Mr. Nature here, with the Red Salamander, Pseudotriton ruber ruber, a critter I haven’t seen since I was a boy.
This gorgeously-colored salamander was the crown jewel of salamander-collecting in my neighborhood. Only rarely did you find one. I remember vividly the time I rolled away a bit of telephone pole laid at the end of Maple Street to keep cars from rolling into the woods and getting stuck. And there it was: flaming red with black spots and a salmon-pink belly. I’m pretty sure that was the last time I saw one.
You can keep a Red Salamander in a terrarium with moss and leaf-litter, a bit of bark to hide under–which it will do most of the time–and plenty of nice soft grubs and caterpillars to eat. Don’t let the terrarium environment get hot or dry. Now that I’m all grown up, I recommend not capturing the salamander at all: just let him go about his business, and enjoy his handsome colors for a minute or two. They’re much larger than most of the other salamanders around here–about the size of a grown man’s finger.
Just another beautiful bit of God’s stuff.
The other one’s a female.
Hi, Mr. Nature here, sharing a post from Linda about how to tell the temperature by listening to crickets chirping (https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2018/06/03/creation-crickets-tell-what-temperature-it-is/).
They taught us this in school, but I could never remember the formula. Boiled down, it goes like this: average number of chirps in 14 seconds +40 = the temperature in Fahrenheit.
I used to buy crickets to feed to my turtle, but I got attached to them and wound up keeping them as pets instead. It was so nice, one New Year’s morning, with snow on the ground and icicles on the eaves, to listen to a band of crickets chirping in our living room. All you need is a little plastic aquarium, a folded-up piece of paper towel dipped in water (that’s how they drink), a stick for them to climb on, a bit of egg carton for them to hide or sleep in, and wheat germ for food. By and by you wind up with a lot of little tiny crickets hatched from eggs. Those, I’m sorry to say, are all escape artists.
Amazing, isn’t it? You start out with just a bunch of rocks, it rains on the rocks and the rocks come alive, and as minuscule, random changes build up over time, gazillions of years, you get crickets, naked mole rats, elephants, and Shakespeare.