Tag Archives: mr. nature

How Smart is an Octopus?

Hi, Mr. Nature here–along with a very clever octopus.

The octopus is resting inside a jar at the bottom of the aquarium, and a human comes along and screws the top onto the jar. You’d think that’d be pretty much escape-proof. But almost instantly, the octopus figures out that what he has to do is twist off the lid in the opposite direction; and in less than a minute, he gets it done. Off goes the top.

He then elects to stay in the jar a little longer. Maybe octopi have more in common with cats than we thought.

This is God’s stuff, the wonderful works of His hands. We don’t know why He made the octopus so intelligent, but you can be sure He knows. And maybe the octopus knows, too!

‘Another Thing God Thought Of, but We Wouldn’t Have’ (2015)

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Remember Mr. Nature discoursing on the chuckwalla? Some of you may not know what a chuckwalla is; but Mr. Nature grew up on Mark Trail in the Sunday color comics, so he knows. To see the lizard in action, click the link.


How is it that you can actually make friends with some being as different as a lizard? Well, maybe we’re not as different as we thought: the same God made us all.

‘A Most Pettable Pet’ (2015)

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A nice, cozy, giant rat the size of a domestic rabbit, sitting on your lap–

Before you run screaming to the sidewalk, give the idea a chance. The Gambian pouched rat does make an affectionate pet: as do our own domestic rats and mice.


When I worked at the Ford plant (to pay for college), I learned that parts of that immense factory were home to wild mice. Then I learned the mice were tame: men on their break, finding some place just outside the door, or maybe next to the tool room, liked to sit and cool off, usually with a snack; and there would usually be a tame mouse on hand to keep him company. Everybody fed these mice. In the tool room there lived a cat and a tame mouse. I suppose the cat was there to catch mice; but after seeing the tool room guy feed the mouse a hundred times, the cat surely decided his services weren’t necessary and he might as well get his share of the snacks.

In the Bible, in prophecy, the lion and the lamb lie down together.

I’ve seen the cat and the mouse lie down (or at least sit up) together, so I know it can be done.

Now That’s Scary!

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Jambo, Mr. Nature here; and today’s safari takes us back in time and under the water for an encounter with the biggest, scariest shark that ever lived: Carcharodon megalodon–“Megalodon” for short.

The only fossils we have of this creature are its teeth. In the picture above, the white tooth is from a modern great white shark, a la Jaws. The black tooth belonged to a Megalodon. Except for the size, they’re virtually identical. Both are classified as belonging to the genus Carcharodon. So we can imagine Megalodon as a prehistoric great white shark two or three times the size of today’s 16 to 20-foot monsters.

I didn’t opt for a Youtube video because there’s so much sensationalism loaded onto Megalodon, it’s hard to get any videos that haven’t succumbed to the temptation to exaggerate. Why you would need to exaggerate the lethal potential of a 40 or 50-foot white shark is a mystery to me.

Megalodon is extinct, which is good news for anyone who wants to go to sea. Oh, there are always rumors that maybe it is not extinct, maybe a few of them survive in the deepest waters of the ocean where we can’t see them. Down there in the dark, eating whales and giant squid–anything else would probably be just a snack.

We may wonder why God ever created such a fish. Well, He had His reasons: we just don’t know them. Whatever those reasons, these gigantic teeth that still remain can leave us in awe of their Creator.

And remind us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Mr. Nature: The Unicorn of the Sea

Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with a visit to the Arctic seas–’cause that’s where you have to go if you want to see a narwhal. They don’t survive in captivity and nobody knows what they eat in the wild.

This is a unique animal. The “horn” is really a tusk–the left front tooth, in fact. It grows straight out in a spiral, and the nerves of the tooth are… on the outside. How the whale uses the tusk is unknown. They’ve never been seen using it to fight or to capture food.

When Norse voyagers in the Middle Ages began to bring these tusks home as souvenirs, they weren’t just exotic conversation pieces. Kings and queens bought them, and paid very high prices. Magical powers were attributed to the tusks. And even today, they’re cloaked in mystery.

God’s stuff–infinite variety, endless fascination.

Mr. Nature: the World’s Largest Insect


Jambo, Mr. Nature here. And today it’s bitter cold outside, so let’s mosey on down to South America and check out big bugs.

What’s the world’s largest insect? There are many contenders for that title; but I give the overall crown to the Titan Beetle, also known as the South American Longhorn Beetle, which can grow to almost seven inches long and, with its powerful jaws, bite a pencil in half. How many chances it gets to bite pencils in half, I don’t know. Just don’t offer it one of your fingers.

There are some insects that are a little longer, and a few a little heavier, but the longer ones are lighter and the heavier ones are shorter.

We have oversized beetles in the summer that bumble around in the air and repeatedly bump into the wall of our apartment building, which doesn’t seem to slow them down a bit. I wonder what it would sound like if a Titan Beetle flew full-tilt into our screen. Our cats like to chase beetles, but this one might well give them pause. I think they might wind up under the bed if they saw one.

God’s stuff–to paraphrase Shakespeare, nothing can stale its infinite variety. He was talking about Cleopatra, but we’re talking bugs.

Are His Tusks on Backwards? (Bonus Video)

I’m getting antsy for Obann, and I want to flush the day’s nooze out of my brain… so let’s join Mr. Nature on a prehistoric safari.

Hi, Mr. Nature here–and the video is in Hindi, so I have no idea what the narrator is saying; but I know a Deinotherium when I see one. Well, okay, there are no more Deinotheriums, only pictures and video recreations.

These are related to the elephants we know and love today, and lived in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some of them were considerably bigger than modern elephants. Plus it looks like their tusks are on backwards. Deinotherium’s tusks were attached to the lower jaw instead of coming out of the upper, like an elephant’s.

We do not know how this animal used its tusks. Scraping bark off trees? Maybe. They look so much like elephants that the two must have had a lot in common. Except for those tusks. The more you look at them, the more puzzling it gets. What good did their tusks do them, down there?

But God the Designer doesn’t make mistakes, and doesn’t create living things that don’t work. However those tusks functioned, we can be sure they served the animal well.

An Extinct Zebra: the Quagga

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Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and today our safari takes us back to South Africa in the 19th century.

Once upon a time there was a zebra there called the quagga, more horse-like than other zebras, with tasty meat and a temperament that was thought to be amenable to domestication. But the last wild quagga was shot in 1878, and all we have left are a few taxidermy specimens and even fewer photographs.

Like the passenger pigeon, the dodo, and more other animals than I like to think about, the quagga was killed off by humans. Today there is a Quagga Project trying to breed them back via closely related living zebras, but it hasn’t been successful yet. There are still things about the quagga’s genetics that remain unknown.

To me all zebras are beautiful, and the quagga was no exception. It’s a shame that we don’t have them with us anymore–and it’s our fault.

God has promised that He will restore His creation. I trust the quagga will be restored to its rightful place in that creation. And I trust the Lord will make us better and wiser and kindlier than we’ve been so far.

Cute Fox Courtship: You Have to Say ‘Please’

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and it’s off to the Kalahari Desert for a brief look at the remarkable Bat-Eared Fox.

Our cats, Robbie and Peep, had ears like this when we first got them, but eventually the rest of the cat caught up to the ears. For the bat-eared fox, forget it. Their ears stay supersized.

Even cooler than the ease with which a fox chows down on a live scorpion is the determination with which the father kit fox protects his daughter from mating with a stranger. But we find his attitude changes when the same suitor, much chastened, comes back and pays his respects to the father before trying again to mate with the daughter. The niceties preserved, father fox then permits the union.

I’ll bet a lot of human fathers can relate to that!

Mr. Nature: the Fence Lizard

Jambo, boys ‘n’ girls! Mr. Nature here, with the humble fence lizard. My home state of New Jersey is but poorly endowed with lizards, but we do have the Eastern Fence Lizard, one of my favorites. The lizard in this video is a Western Fence Lizard from California, almost the same thing.

The “push-ups” that these lizards do, mostly the males, is a territorial display. It means “get lost!” Most of the lizards in the iguanid family–dozens and dozens of species–make this display, as well as puffing themselves up, showing the dewlap, etc. There are even some Old World agamid family lizards that do push-ups. This is a mystery to me, that totally unrelated lizards should resort to the same threat display.

I once had fence lizards and one of the females laid eggs. We caught her doing it, and so were able to contact the Staten Island Zoo for instructions as to how to care for the eggs. They were good instructions, and all two dozen eggs hatched into absolutely perfect little lizards.

At night the little ones used to bury themselves in cedar shavings with only their heads left showing. One morning our granddaughter came into the living room and saw them like that–only the tiny heads scattered here and there–and totally freaked out. She was sure some fiend had come in the middle of the might and beheaded the baby lizards. But Mrs. Nature was quickly able to reassure her otherwise.

Fence lizards eat live bugs and can be kept together in an aquarium without your having to worry about them assassinating one another. They tame rather quickly and are altogether nice lizards.

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