Before we move on to any demoralizing nooze, here’s Mr. Nature with a safari to the ocean floor in search of sea spiders. Please feel free to ignore the cutesy narration.
Very few of this have ever seen one of these critters, and most of us have probably not heard of them. Which is odd, because there are hundreds of species of sea spiders and they’re found world-wide in both deep and shallow water. But as most of them are very small and quiet, it would be easy not to notice them.
I’ve been fascinated by these creatures for a long time. How can you not be fascinated by an animal whose vital organs are in its legs because there’s no room for them in its body?
Fap to the evolution fairy tale. What hath God wrought!
Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to South and Central America in search of the invisible–well, almost invisible–glasswing butterfly. I’d never heard of them until today. But God’s Creation is so vast, no one will ever know the whole length and breadth of it.
These butterflies have transparent wings, which help them elude predators. Even the caterpillars are partially transparent. We do see color around the edges of the wings; but hey, if it didn’t work, the glasswings wouldn’t be here.
Transparency turns up in other animals, too. I used to go to our local pet store and watch in fascination the “glass catfish” swimming back and forth. Their skin and muscles are transparent and you can see their bones.
As Rev. D. James Kennedy used to say, “Ain’t chance grand?”
I admit I’m not much for spiders, but I’ve always had a soft spot for these zebra jumping spiders–maybe because I wanted to be a zebra when I grew up, and look how close these little spiders have come to doing that.
Unlike other spiders, jumping spiders can actually see what’s going on around them. While I was writing yesterday, I discovered one of these little guys crawling around on my knee. It was easy to induce him to climb onto my hand and then jump somewhere else. He must’ve liked me because he kept coming back for more. So I played with the spider for a minute or two before finally releasing him onto the ground.
But I insist I’m not eccentric–just enjoying some of God’s stuff. And trying to manage a nooze-free weekend.
Our safari today takes us out the front door and into the yard–no need to go any farther.
Jambo, boys ‘n’ girls! Mr. Nature here, with the hairy bittercress–a weed that grows right here in my own yard. And when it’s ripe, any little disturbance will cause it to shoot its seeds in all directions. It’s a kind of natural shotgun.
You might have some hairy bittercress handy, never having noticed it before. Give it a nudge and see what happens! (Disclaimer: nothing will happen if it isn’t ripe yet. Or if you just called somebody over to show him something cool.) Anyway, it’s fun to touch these plants and see them do their stuff.
I am told you can use hairy bittercress in your salad, but I’m not ready to trust it that far.
Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and this is wild: how do you tell whether a living thing is an animal or a plant?
There are more than 900 species of slime molds, they’re found all over–even inside your air conditioner, if the drain gets blocked. They mostly live as single-celled organisms; but when food is scarce, they can clump themselves together and function as a multi-celled organism.
They have neither brains nor nervous systems: nevertheless, slime molds can remember, and some studies suggest they can even learn, modifying their behavior in light of past experience. Yeesh, did I say “experience”? Well, yeah: because that’s apparently what’s going on with them–although just how they do it, no one knows.
Currently biologists have decided that slime molds are not plants but rather a kind of amoeba. The smart kind that remembers things. Go figure.
Just when we think we’ve got Creation figured out, God likes to tantalize us with a mystery like this.
I’ve never in my life seen a real, live hummingbird–let alone a baby hummingbird. Look how tiny it is!
It’s a beautiful spring day today, sunny and cool. As I sat outside with my cigar, leafing through The Golden Treasury of Natural History, it occurred to me that I had no idea what a baby hummingbird would look like. I soon found plenty of pictures on the Internet.
As Samuel F. B. Morse once said, “What hath God wrought!” No one has ever seen it all; a lifetime of study wouldn’t suffice.
We have more than a lifetime’s worth of Creation to enjoy.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here–and let’s go on safari to the South American rain forest and see the flying frogs.
These tree frogs live in the treetops and have the ability to use the webbing in their hands and feet as a kind of parachute, which allows them to make death-defying leaps and not get hurt. It’s as good a way as any to escape the attentions of the tree boa.
See what God the Designer can do with small changes in the basic format of an animal. Frogs are frogs, easily recognized; but with a little tweaking here and there, the same basic frog design can be adapted to just about any environment. You won’t find them on the ice-cap and you won’t find them in salt water; but they’re just about everywhere else. Even deserts.
What ho! Mr. Nature here. I haven’t seen any big butterflies yet this spring, but I can’t wait, so let’s go to the video.
When I visit the Jersey shore, I’m used to seeing seagulls flying over the waves and hopping around the beach. But this safari is to the shore of Lake Superior, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and instead of seagulls, we’ve got tiger swallowtail butterflies.
Listen to that wind! Where I come from, butterflies tend to lie low until the wind dies down. Why are these tiger swallowtails out in this wind? And what draws so many of them to this beach? What are they doing?
My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that they’re noshing on minerals that have been left behind by evaporation. I don’t know if it’s right, but it does sound clever.
Whatever they’re doing, I’m always up for tiger swallowtails: God’s stuff, always beautiful: He looked on what He had made and pronounced it very good.
You’ve heard the peepers calling–some of you, in your own back yards–and they’ve laid their eggs. Time for them to hatch!
Mr. Nature here–and watch God’s stuff work. Time-lapse photography allows us to watch the embryos developing in the eggs until they’re ready to hatch out and swim away. In another month or two they’ll be frogs.
If you watch closely you can just make out some exceedingly tiny creatures swimming here and there. A newly-hatched spring peeper tadpole is about the size of the fingernail on a human baby’s finger; so these other critters, whatever they are, are just barely visible without a microscope.
Life! God planted it all over the planet.
P.S.–Help me maintain this blog today without writing about the cotton-pickin’ coronavirus! And no, I absolutely do not no way care what Alyssa Milano has to say about it. I don’t care that she was in a movie once. I won a spelling bee in junior high school. So what? Let’s stay real.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here. Spring has sprung, birds are building nests all over the neighborhood: but our video safari takes us to Australia, and a very different kind of bird’s nest.
The Australian brush turkey belongs to a group of birds called “megapodes,” and their nests are huge piles of heaped-up leaves that can weigh up to four tons. The male constructs this hill and digs a hole in it, the female lays the eggs in the hole, they fill the hole–and then, instead of sitting on the nest, the male guards it from predators and from time to time adds or subtracts from it to regulate the nest’s internal temperature. If you’ve ever had a compost heap, you know that decaying vegetation produces heat. The bird knows that, too.
When the young finally hatch, they dig their way out of the nest and fly away–no further care needed, they’re good to go.
Who else makes nests like that? Alligators, that’s who! Megapodes’ nests are just like gators’ nests and work the same way. Except alligators can’t fly, so when the eggs hatch, the mother gator carries the babies to a nursery pool where both parents can defend them from predators–like, for instance, guys who want to film videos of baby alligators.
When the male brush turkey has to defend the nest from predators, he kicks into their faces a storm of leaf litter. That’s usually enough to send them packing.
Please feel free to ignore the evolutionary spiel provided by the narrator.