ARE BIRDS ‘COUSINS’ TO REPTILES? NO.

Q:  Are today’s birds genealogical ‘cousins’ to today’s reptiles, due to a shared (evolutionary) ancestry?

A:  No.  However, birds and reptiles share the same Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who created them to share the same earth.

All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

1st Corinthians 15:39

According to the evolutionary sequence of [imagined] events, birds are supposed to have evolved from reptiles.3

If that had occurred in the past, which it did not, it would mean that today’s birds—such as robins and roadrunners—would be distant ‘cousins’ of reptiles—such as cobras and crocodiles.

The Darwinian tale portrays today’s birds as winged dinosaurs who supposedly survived a global ‘extinction event’ that supposedly occurred about 66,000,000 years ago.1,2

Is there any eyewitness report supporting this magical scenario, or even evidence of any such timeframe? No and no.4,5

Although there are myriads of errors in this sensational speculation, only a few of which are mentioned here.

In particular, this pseudoscience scenario requires swallowing at least three invalid and drastic premises:

(1) the assumption that reptiles are not fundamentally different from birds;3 and

(2) the assumption that a secret agent (oxymoronically named “Natural Selection”, as if “its” naturalistic outcomes were intended) can accidently invent—and then successfully secure (i.e., genetically “lock down”)—such traumatic transitional transmogrifications;5 and

(3) the assumption that any such transitions’ biochemical and genetic details, in defiance of entropy’s universal destructiveness, repeatedly escaped thermodynamic reality.5

For starters, just imagine the first-listed problem, i.e., the complicated anatomical and physiological differences between birds and reptiles:

  • birds have hollow bones; reptiles, except for marrow cavities, have solid bones;
  • birds use air sacs for non-stop unidirectional (one-way) airflow through their lungs; most reptiles have two-way breathing systems;
  • birds are endothermic (warm-blooded), actively controlling their body “thermostats”; reptiles are mostly ectothermic (cold-blooded);
  • birds have muscle-controlled feathers; reptiles have dry skins or scales;
  • birds have four-chambered hearts; reptiles usually have three-chambered hearts;
  • most birds have major muscles anchored to their front, attached to a keeled sternum (breastbone), facilitating perching; reptiles’ main muscles anchor to their vertebral column (backbone), attached in arrangements conducive for standing, walking, and running.2

So don’t expect reptiles to accidentally change their genes to produce birds as descendants!

As Australian creation scientist Fiona Smith once said:

In other words, you don’t just put feathers on a reptile and then it can fly. There are a multitude of [essential] attributes, all working together, that make a bird fly.2

There is much more proof—to borrow Dr. Frank Sherwin’s observations—that birds have always (and only) been birds, and that reptiles have always (and only) been reptiles.

References

1 For centuries evolutionists have proposed the notion that birds somehow evolved from reptiles, imagining “feathered dinosaurs” or dinosaur-like flying reptiles (like pterodactyls) as speculative ‘transitional’ animals. Burnett, R. W., H. I, Fisher, and H. S. Zim. 1958. Zoology: An Introduction to the Animal Kingdom. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 5-7, 13-17, 72-75; Zim, H. S., and I N. Gabrielson. 1964. Birds: A Guide to the Most Familiar American Birds. New York, NY: Golden Press, 12-13.

2 “Birds are incredible flying (and occasionally non-flying) machines. The Creator has designed these creatures with specialized flight apparatus, an amazing respiratory system, not to mention unbelievable migration and navigation abilities.” Sherwin, F. 2006. A ‘One-Hundred-Million-Year-Old Bird’ Is Still a Bird. Creation Science Update (June 20, 2006). See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Wandering Albatross: Wide Wings on the Winds. Creation Science Update (July 2, 2020), citing Job 39:26-27 as illustrating God’s bioengineering that enables heavy birds to efficiently use wind current for launching their heavier-than-air bodies into the sky.

3 Smith, F. 2015. Evidence for Creation: A Tour through Some East-Australian Zoos. Fremantle, Western Australia: Vivid Publishing, 164-165 (quotation), 251. Fiona Smith, an Australian professional geoscientist and science educator, graduated ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics, during 2015 with a Master of Christian Education degree (joint major in Biblical Education & Apologetics).

4 Regarding the need for reliable eyewitnesses, to learn the truth about unique events of the no-longer-observable past, see Johnson, J. J. S. 2016. There’s Nothing Like an Eyewitness. Acts & Facts. 45(12):20.

5 Regarding the ubiquitous and inescapable destructiveness of biochemical entropy, see Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Infinite Time Won’t Rescue Evolution. Acts & Facts. 47(6):21. Regarding the animistic role that selectionists imagine “nature” as playing, in order to “favor” or “select” a series of genetic mutations for producing phenotypically survivability-“fit” outcomes, see Guliuzza, R. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion that Natural Selection Operates on Organisms. Acts & Facts. 40(9):121-15.

Map of Gatorland Showing Boardwalk

 

 

BIRDS DIDN’T EVOLVE FROM REPTILES

NO: BIRDS DID NOT ‘EVOLVE’ FROM REPTILES

All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men [ανθρωπων], another flesh of beasts [κτηνων], another of fishes [ιχθυων], and another of birds [τηνων]. (1st Corinthians 15:39)

Q:  Are today’s birds genealogical ‘cousins’ to reptiles, due to shared (evolutionary) ancestry?

A:  No.  (Not even close!) However, today’s birds and reptiles do share the same Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who created them (and their ancestors) to share the same earth, with us.


According to the evolutionary sequence of [imagined] events, birds are supposed to have evolved from reptiles.3

If that had occurred in the past, which it did not, it would mean that today’s birds—such as robins and roadrunners—would be distant ‘cousins’ of reptiles—such as cobras and crocodiles.

The Darwinian tale portrays today’s birds as winged dinosaurs who supposedly survived a global ‘extinction event’ that supposedly occurred about 66,000,000 years ago.1,2

Is there any eyewitness report supporting this magical scenario, or even evidence of any such timeframe? No and no.4,5

Although there are myriads of errors in this sensational speculation, only a few of which are mentioned here.

In particular, this pseudoscience scenario requires swallowing at least three invalid and drastic premises:

(1) the assumption that reptiles are not fundamentally different from birds;3 and

(2) the assumption that a secret agent (oxymoronically named “Natural Selection”, as if “its” naturalistic outcomes were intended) can accidently invent—and then successfully secure (i.e., genetically “lock down”)—such traumatic transitional transmogrifications;5 and

(3) the assumption that any such transitions’ biochemical and genetic details, in defiance of entropy’s universal destructiveness, repeatedly escaped thermodynamic reality.5

For starters, just imagine the first-listed problem, i.e., the complicated anatomical and physiological differences between birds and reptiles:

  • birds have hollow bones; reptiles, except for marrow cavities, have solid bones;
  • birds use air sacs for non-stop unidirectional (one-way) airflow through their lungs; most reptiles have two-way breathing systems;
  • birds are endothermic (warm-blooded), actively controlling their body “thermostats”; reptiles are mostly ectothermic (cold-blooded);
  • birds have muscle-controlled feathers; reptiles have dry skins or scales;
  • birds have four-chambered hearts; reptiles usually have three-chambered hearts;
  • most birds have major muscles anchored to their front, attached to a keeled sternum (breastbone), facilitating perching; reptiles’ main muscles anchor to their vertebral column (backbone), attached in arrangements conducive for standing, walking, and running.2

Don’t expect reptiles to accidentally change their genes to produce birds as descendants. As Fiona Smith says:

In other words, you don’t just put feathers on a reptile and then it can fly. There are a multitude of [essential] attributes, all working together, that make a bird fly.2

There is much more proof—to borrow Dr. Frank Sherwin’s observations—that birds have always (and only) been birds, and that reptiles have always (and only) been reptiles.

God created each bird, and each reptile, to be whatever He chose that creature to be–and it’s our privilege to see God’s magnificent creation and to learn about His magnificent majesty in the process (Revelation 4:11)!


References

1 For centuries evolutionists have proposed the notion that birds somehow evolved from reptiles, imagining “feathered dinosaurs” or dinosaur-like flying reptiles (like pterodactyls) as speculative ‘transitional’ animals. See, accord, R. Will Burnett, Harvey L. Fisher, & Herbert S. Zim, Zoology: An Introduction to the Animal Kingdom (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1958), pages 5-7, 13-17, 72-75; Herbert S. Zim & Ira N. Gabrielson, Birds: A Guide to the Most Familiar American Birds (New York, NY: Golden Press, 1964), pages 12-13.

2 “Birds are incredible flying (and occasionally non-flying) machines. The Creator has designed these creatures with specialized flight apparatus, an amazing respiratory system, not to mention unbelievable migration and navigation abilities.” Sherwin, Frank J., “A ‘One-Hundred-Million-Year-Old Bird’ Is Still a Bird”, Creation Science Update (posted June 20, 2006). See also James J. S. Johnson, “Wandering Albatross: Wide Wings on the Winds”, Creation Science Update (July 2, 2020), citing Job 39:26-27 as illustrating God’s bioengineering that enables heavy birds to efficiently use wind current for launching their heavier-than-air bodies into the sky.

3 Smith, Fiona. 2015. Evidence for Creation: A Tour through Some East-Australian Zoos (Fremantle, Western Australia: Vivid Publishing), pages 164-165 (quotation), 251. The late Fiona Smith (now in Heaven with her Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ), an Australian professional geoscientist and science educator, graduated ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics, during 2015 with a Master of Christian Education degree (joint major in Biblical Education & Apologetics).

4 Regarding the need for reliable eyewitnesses, to learn the real truth about unique events of the no-longer-observable past, see James J. S. Johnson, “There’s Nothing Like an Eyewitness”, Acts & Facts, 45(12):20 (December 2016).

5 Regarding the ubiquitous and inescapable destructiveness of biochemical entropy, see James J. S. Johnson, “Infinite Time Won’t Rescue Evolution”, Acts & Facts. 47(6):21 (June 2018). The phrase “natural selectin” is a misleading bait-and-switch term, because the action of “selection” necessarily requires a selector who can think (i.e., utilize information while exercising intelligence), prefer/favor one outcome as more valuable than another (i.e., make value judgments), and make/implement action-oriented decisions (i.e., make volitional choices). Regarding the mystical-animistic role that Darwinian selectionists imagine inanimate “nature” as playing, in order to “favor” or “select” a series of genetic mutations for producing phenotypically survivability-“fit” outcomes, see Randy J. Guliuzza, “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion that Natural Selection Operates on Organisms”, Acts & Facts, 40(9):121-15 (September 2011).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Jim Johnson (“JJSJ”), shown here with a Roger Tory Peterson bird-book (in St. Petersburg, Florida, birdwatching in the backyard of Chaplain Bob & Marcia Webel), was first taught this post’s main facts by Mrs. Thelma Bumgardner, his 2nd grade teacher (a true creation science educator), at Damascus Elementary School in Maryland. During the half-century thereafter Jim has enjoyed learning about birds–and, more importantly, about the Lord Jesus Christ (the Creator or birds and everything else, including us!)–and have acquired some relevant formal education (including college degrees with concentrations on the ecology and zoology of birds)–and a lot of birding adventures (including one that almost cost him his life). Due to the kind patience, WordPress-savvy knowledge/skills and accomplishments, and ever-ready technical expertise of Professor Lee Dusing (who owns, operates, and prolifically posts on Leesbird.com, as she indefatigably role-models what Christian ornithologists should be like), Jim has been able to occasionally post articles, for the past few years, on this Christian birdwatching blog. To God be the glory!

BIRDS DIDN’T EVOLVE FROM REPTILES

A Time for Joy: Remembering Wigeons and Celebrating Resurrection Day

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

American Wigeon – Male by Ray

As we reflect on this year’s celebration of Resurrection Day (i.e., Easter), Luke 10:20 reminds us of the best reason for rejoicing.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

And the unending joy that is noted in Luke 10:20 is built upon the forever-firm fact of Christ’s historic prophecy-fulfilling resurrection, which we can analyze in 1st Corinthians 15.

However, as many birdwatchers (even unbelievers) know, viewing birds can be an earthly joy, too, albeit a much lesser and temporal one  –  yet good enow to put a joint replacement surgery (such as a hip replacement or a knee replacement) into a more satisfactory perspective.  This is demonstrated by Mike Burt’s “American Wigeon Remind Us to Look for Joy, Even in Storms”, published in Chesapeake Bay Journal, 30(10):47 (January-February 2021), posted at American Wigeon Remind Us To Look For Joy Even In Storms .  After some birdwatching at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (near Cambridge, Maryland),  birdwatcher Mike Burke chose to visit the Choptank River (the Delmarva Peninsula’s largest riverine tributary of the Chesapeake Bay), in order to see the wintering waterfowl there.

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Daves BirdingPix

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Daves BirdingPix

The snow was quickening as we got out, binoculars in gloved hands. Before us were rafts of gorgeous ducks bobbing on the windswept waters. I glanced up. The opposite shore, more than a mile away, was lost in the snow. We could still see the ducks in the middle of the broad, tidal river. . . [including the] big white spots on the black heads of the buffleheads and the picturesque black-and-white patterns of a few long-tailed ducks. Just a few feet away, though, sloshing alongside the jersey barrier, was the real object of our pursuit: scores of winter ducks. The raft included plenty of canvasbacks, a handful of redheads and scaup, and a good number of American wigeon. . . .

Wigeon are often called “bald pates” for the white forehead and crown that gives the male the look of a bald man. A dramatic green eye patch reaches toward the back of the head, just like a green-winged teal. The male wigeon has a gray face and neck and a pale blue bill that is rather short and narrow and ends in black. The wigeon is a dabbler, like a mallard, feeding on duckweed, milfoil and especially widgeon grass. But they also feed alongside geese in fields as they use that short, tough bill to rip vegetation free. The back and sides of wigeon are a sinuous rosy brown down to the waterline. In males, a white spot occurs right in front of the black tail. Elegant, elongated black feathers lined in white lay on his rear when he’s at rest. I had a big smile as I admired this handsome drake.

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Ray

The female is a beauty in her own right. There’s no arresting green eye swoosh or bald pate. Instead, her head is a series of wavy brown and white feathers, except for black smudges around her eyes. The hen is a bit browner overall than the drake, but she has the same lovely lines. In flight, the birds show mostly white underneath. The male also has a big white panel on its upper wing, just above a bright green speculum (wing feathers that are close to the body). The female has a simple white line above her speculum, which is black.

While most birds enter their breeding plumage in the spring and raise their broods in the summer, ducks put on their breeding feathers in the winter. Here in the Chesapeake region, we get to see the birds at their most colorful. This is also when pair bonds are established. By early spring, wigeon will have left the Bay heading toward their breeding territory. Most will go all the way to the boreal forests of Alaska and western Canada. A moderate number will stop in the upper Midwest “prairie pothole” region. Nests are built near ponds and lakes. The hen lays a single clutch of three to 13 eggs. The eggs need to incubate for almost a month, but when they hatch, the chicks are quick to leave the nest, heading to water to evade land predators. Even on water, though, they will face mortal danger from hungry fish and turtles. The bird’s first year of life is full of peril. As winter approaches, these ducks disperse down both coasts. On the Pacific Coast, American wigeon winter from Alaska south to Central America. On the Atlantic, you’ll find them from Massachusetts south through the Caribbean and into northern South America. Wigeon can also be found in all of the Eastern states south of Pennsylvania, especially throughout the Chesapeake [Bay region].

American Wigeon (Anas americana) brood ©USFWS

[Quoting Mike Burke, posted at American Wigeon Remind Us To Look For Joy Even In Storms.]   Watching American Wigeons (and other ducks, such as Mallards, Lesser Scaups, and Northern Shovelers), wintering at Furneaux Creek (in Carrollton, part of Denton County, Texas) during the A.D.1990s, are happy memories  —  form years gone by, back when I taught Ornithology and Avian Conservation for Dallas Christian College (in Farmers Branch, Texas).  God gives us so many richer-than-money blessings over the years, including privileged opportunities to observe His avian wonders —  in bushes and woods, at ponds and creeks, etc.

Of course, compared to the truth of 1st Corinthians 15 – the completed redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ – the transitory joys of this life, even birding, pale and disappear.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

[Quoting song-writer Helen Howarth Lemmel, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.]

Even so, come Lord Jesus, our risen-from-the-dead Redeemer!

 CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!


Other Articles by Dr. James J. S. Johnson (JJSJ)

James J. S. Johnson

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Hummingbirds See Colors Over (Beyond) the Rainbow

Hummingbirds See Colors Over (Beyond) the Rainbow

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.  [ Proverbs 20:12 ]

God has equipped hummingbirds with a range of color vision that exceeds that of humans, so it’s fair to say that hummingbirds see over—or beyond—the rainbow.

This “beyond-the-rainbow” vision helps birds to see food, predators, nectar-producing plants, potential mates, and 3D objects within their physical environment. Recent research corroborates this amazing fact.(1),(2)

Humans have three types of color-sensitive cones in their eyes—attuned to red, green and blue light—but birds have a fourth type, sensitive to ultraviolet light. “Not only does having a fourth color cone type extend the range of bird-visible colors into the UV, it potentially allows birds to perceive combination colors like ultraviolet+green and ultraviolet+red—but this has been hard to test,” said [Dr. Mary Caswell] Stoddard. …  Stoddard and her colleagues designed a series of experiments to test whether hummingbirds can see these nonspectral colors. Their results appear June 15 [2020] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(1)

[ see Princeton University citation below ]

Nonspectral colors are perceived when nonadjacent cone types (sensitive to widely separated parts of the light spectrum) are predominantly stimulated. For humans, purple (stimulation of blue- and red-sensitive cones) is a nonspectral color; birds’ fourth color cone type creates many more possibilities.(2)

[ see Stoddard , Eyster, et al. citation below ]

For years, literally, Dr. Stoddard and her team tested and quantified how wild hummingbirds see colors beyond the spectrum of white light that humans see.

To investigate how birds perceive their colorful world, Stoddard and her research team established a new field system for exploring bird color vision in a natural setting. Working at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic, Colorado, the researchers trained wild broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus) to participate in color vision experiments. … [using] a pair of custom “bird vision” LED tubes programmed to display a broad range of colors, including nonspectral colors like ultraviolet+green. Next they performed experiments in an alpine meadow frequently visited by local broad-tailed hummingbirds, which breed at the high-altitude site.(1)

[ see Princeton University citation below ]

The experiment was sweet, as one would expect with hummingbirds.(3)

Each morning, the researchers rose before dawn and set up two feeders: one containing sugar water and the other plain water. Beside each feeder, they placed an LED tube. The tube beside the sugar water emitted one color, while the one next to the plain water emitted a different color. The researchers periodically swapped the positions of the rewarding and unrewarding tubes, so the birds could not simply use location to pinpoint a sweet treat. … Over the course of several hours, wild hummingbirds learned to visit the rewarding color. Using this setup, the researchers recorded over 6,000 feeder visits in a series of 19 experiments.(1)

[ see Princeton University citation below ]
See the source image
The results were—one might say—colorful. Unlike human eyes that can see one “nonspectral” color, purple, hummingbird eyes apparently see five “nonspectral” colors.

Stoddard’s team was particularly interested in “nonspectral” color combinations, which involve hues from widely separated parts of the color spectrum, as opposed to blends of neighboring colors like teal (blue-green) or yellow (green-red). For humans, purple is the clearest example of a nonspectral color. Technically, purple is not in the rainbow: it arises when our blue (short-wave) and red (long-wave) cones are stimulated, but not green (medium-wave) cones. While humans have just one nonspectral color—purple, birds can theoretically see up to five: purple, ultraviolet+red, ultraviolet+green, ultraviolet+yellow and ultraviolet+purple.(1)

[ see Princeton University citation below ]

Birds have four color cone types in their eyes, compared to three in humans. In theory, this enables birds to discriminate a broad range of colors, including many nonspectral colors. … We trained wild hummingbirds to participate in color vision tests, which revealed that they can discriminate a variety of nonspectral colors, including UV+red, UV+green, purple, and UV+yellow. Additionally, based on an analysis of ∼3,300 plumage and plant colors, we estimate that birds perceive many natural colors as nonspectral.(2)

[ see Stoddard, Eyster, et al. citation below ]

Also, the research team studied minute differences in color, as they are featured in plant material and bird feathers—there is a lot more to color that is appreciated by most human eyes!

Finally, the research team analyzed a data set of 3,315 feather and plant colors. They discovered that birds likely perceive many of these colors as nonspectral, while humans do not … [due to the birds’] four color-cone visual system.(1)

[ see Princeton University citation below ]

How colorful the world must be to hummingbirds!

Dr. Stoddard’s team were not the first to study the beyond-the-rainbow vision of birds. Previous studies have been reported, using finches and sparrows, indicating that diet is important for avian eyesight.

The ability of finches, sparrows, and many other birds to see a visual world hidden to us is explained in a study published in the journal eLife. Birds can be divided into those that can see ultraviolet (UV) light and those that cannot. Those that can live in a sensory world apart, able to transmit and receive signals between each other in a way that is invisible to many other species. … The study reveals two essential adaptions that enable birds to expand their vision into the UV range: chemical changes in light-filtering pigments called carotenoids and the tuning of light-sensitive proteins called opsins. Birds acquire carotenoids through their diets and process them in a variety of ways to shift their light absorption toward longer or shorter wavelengths.(4)

[ see PhysOrg citation below ]

If that seems complicated and mathematically challenging, it is!(4),(5)

The researchers characterized the carotenoid pigments from birds with violet vision and from those with UV vision and used computational models to see how the pigments affect the number of colors they can see. … The study also revealed that sensitivity of the violet/UV cone and the blue cone in birds must move in sync to allow for optimum vision. Among bird species, there is a strong relationship between the light sensitivity of opsins within the violet/UV cone and mechanisms within the blue cone, which coordinate to ensure even UV vision.(4)

[ see PhysOrg citation below ]

The more-technical description of the research is even more challenging, to read, but the implications are “clearly seen”—God has given birds amazing eyesight.

Color vision in birds is mediated by four types of cone photoreceptors whose maximal sensitivities (λmax) are evenly spaced across the light spectrum. … SWS1 [shortwave-sensitive cone] opsin is accompanied by a corresponding short-wavelength shift in the spectrally adjacent SWS2 cone.(5)

[ see Toomey, Lind, et al. citation below ]

Hummingbird eyesight is facilitated by some really technical details!

Here, we show that SWS2 cone spectral tuning is mediated by modulating the ratio of two apocarotenoids, galloxanthin and 11’,12’-dihydrogalloxanthin, which act as intracellular spectral filters in this cell type. We propose an enzymatic pathway that mediates the differential production of these apocarotenoids in the avian retina, and we use color vision modeling to demonstrate how …  spectral tuning is necessary to achieve even sampling of the light spectrum and thereby maintain near-optimal color discrimination.(5)

[ see Toomey, Lind, et al. citation below ]

At the practical level, how can Christians benefit from knowing about avian eyesight? Or, what about other features—like wings, feathers, and motion-regulating software—that God has designed and installed into the world’s hummingbirds? Are we missing an opportunity to appreciate God if we ignore what He has done to enable hummingbirds to live as they do?

Hummingbird beaks, bones, and feathers differ from those of all other living or extinct bird kinds. Their wings don’t fold in the middle. Instead, they have a unique swivel joint where the wing attaches to the body so that the wings rotate in a figure-eight pattern. And they move fast! They have to beat their wings rapidly to hover, levitating with level heads as they extract nectar from flowers for hours per day. Scientists still need to discover the bird’s mental software that coordinates information about the location of a flower’s center with muscle motion that expertly stabilizes the hummingbird’s little head as it drinks.(6)

[ see Thomas citation below ]

Astonishing! What a stupendous and beauty-broadcasting imagination our God has—how can we see His busy, busy hummingbirds without admiring His technical genius and His bioengineering power?(7)

[ see Sherwin citation below ]

Yet every hummingbird alive today is a descendant from the originals made by God on Day 5 of Creation Week.

Their size, flight characteristics and patterns, metabolism, all point to our magnificent Creator who designed these amazing animals and created them on Day Five.(8)

References

  1. Staff writer, Princeton University. 2020. Spectacular bird’s-eye view? Hummingbirds see diverse colors humans can only imagine. PhysOrg (June 15, 2020), posted athttps://phys.org/news/2020-06-spectacular-bird-eye-view-hummingbirds-diverse.html .
  2. Stoddard, M. C., H. N. Eyster, et al. 2020. Wild Hummingbirds Discriminate Nonspectral Colors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (June 15, 2020), posted at  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1919377117 .  
  3. Mitchell, E. 2014. Our Creator’s Sweet Design for Hummingbird Taste (Answers in Genesis: News to Know, September 6, 2014), posted https://answersingenesis.org/birds/our-creators-sweet-design-hummingbird-taste/ (with a link, in Footnote #1, to video footage of hummingbird sugar consumption).
  4. Staff writer, eLife. 2016. How Birds Unlock their Super-Sense, Ultraviolet Vision.PhysOrg (July 12, 2016), posted at https://phys.org/news/2016-07-birds-super-sense-ultraviolet-vision.html?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Phys.org_TrendMD_1 .
  5. Toomey, M. B., O. Lind, et al. 2016. Complementary shifts in photoreceptor spectral tuning unlock the full adaptive potential of ultraviolet vision in birds. eLife Sciences / Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Neuroscience (July 12, 2016), posted at https://elifesciences.org/articles/15675 ; doi: 10.7554/eLife.15675
  6. Thomas, B. 2016. Hummingbirds! Acts & Facts. 45(4), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hummingbirds .
  7. Sherwin, F. 2006. Hummingbirds at ICR. Acts & Facts. 35(9), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hummingbirds-at-icr .  
  8. Dreves, D. 1991. The Hummingbird: God’s Tiny Miracle. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. 14(1):10-12.  

Catching Crayfish, a Lesson in Over-Reacting

Originally posted Nov 13, 2015 on Bibleworld Adventures:

by James J. S. Johnson

Large Tropical Blue Crayfish - Captive ©Dave Wilson

Tropical Blue Crayfish – Captive ©Dave Wilson

During my junior high years, living in a rural part of Maryland, I learned and enjoyed the art of catching crayfish.   (Nowadays I just eat them at restaurants!)   As a teenager, I was neither an astacologist (crayfish scientist) nor a serious catcher of crayfish (which is the same crustacean known to some as “mudbug” and in Louisiana as “crawfish”), so I did not use a “crayfish trap”.  Rather, as described below, I used a homemade dipping net, to catch those greenish critters that looked like lobsters.

Crayfish like drainage ditches and slow-moving streams, especially those with banks that are shaped in ways that provide hiding places for crayfish (and habitat for what crayfish eat), including underwater rocks or logs or roots.

After a heavy rainfall the velocity of stream currents may increase, as it drains, but crayfish can act to maintain their position at the edge of such drainage:  “Crayfish … help maintain position [in face of faster current flow] by altering body posture to counteract the effect of drag when exposed to an increase in current velocity.”  [Quoting from Paul S. Giller & Björn Malmqvist, THE BIOLOGY OF STREAMS AND RIVERS (Oxford University Press, 2008), page 122.]  Crayfish care about staying and defending their “home turf”  –  i.e., they are territorial, and some will fight to defend a favorite streambank crevice.  [Giller & Malmqvist, pages 131-132.]

Crayfish

Crayfish

Crayfish are omnivores – they emerge from their hiding places, especially when it is dark (from “dusk to dawn”, to borrow an old TNT expression from Chaplain Bob Webel – or on days when it is cloudy), to find and feed on freshwater snails, fish eggs, tadpoles, worms, algae, grains, and other plant material. The dominating influence of crayfish, as “keystone predators” in the food webs of drainage ditches and sluggish stream-waters (where they live), is produced directly, as predators, and indirectly, by eating riparian plant cover used by aquatic invertebrates.  [Giller & Malmqvist, page 204.]

Drainage ditches are a favorite habitat of crayfish, not just in Maryland.  “Ditches are of course just man-made sloughs [pooled streamwater that only moves slowly], but they are important to the survival of many species of life in the state.  Ditches are necessary for allowing rain runoff much of the year, and wherever water is present for half the year or more there are likely to be populations of crawfishes  and other invertebrates, as well as their predators such as frogs, snakes, and turtles.  Even shallow ditches may be home to several species of crawfish, some quite uncommon and localized in distribution.”  [Quoting Jerry G. Walls, CRAWFISH OF LOUISIANA (Louisiana State University Press, 2009), pages 35-36.]

Where I (then) lived, in rural Baltimore County,  there was a bridge with a huge drainage pipe that allowed streamwater to flow in irregular patterns, around large and small rocks, so that the stream bank had indentations and crevices where the waterflow was somewhat shielded, providing places for small creatures (like baby fish and insect larvae) to avoid being swept downstream, though crayfish lurked nearby, always hungry for something small to eat, whether it be plant material or aquatic invertebrates.

When moving on land crayfish crawl, using their legs.  But, when underwater, they  “swim” or “paddle”, using their legs and when needed, the tail fan.  Rapid flipping of the crayfish tail enables the crayfish to suddenly propel itself backward  — it appears to “jump backwards” in the water.  This can provide a quick exit from anything facially threatening the crayfish.

Of course, the crayfish themselves were shy about large disturbances in the water, so wading into the stream (which might be ankle-deep to knee-deep) would scare crayfish into hiding places, some of which were located under the bridge or in underwater burrows nearby.

If you splash a stone into the water directly in front of a crayfish it would jet backwards to escape.  The escape maneuver was so reflexive and quick that the crayfish never looked before it “jumped” backward in the water, to escape whatever the perceived danger was in front of it.  After learning this crayfish habit it became apparent that crayfish could be easily caught, by taking advantage of this “knee-jerk” reaction, with a home-made “net”.  So how did we catch crayfish, down by the drainage pipe that conveyed streamwater under the bridge?

Shasta Crayfish

Shasta Crayfish

First, make a “net” to catch the crayfish with.  Reshape (by bending) a coat hanger into the shape of a lollipop profile, i.e., a straight line (for a handle) that is curved into a circle.  The resulting shape of the coat hanger resembles a somewhat small version of the frame of a tennis racquet (or badminton racquet), with the “loop” (circle or oval) part being about the size (circumference) of a soccer ball, easily enough room for catching a large or small crayfish.  The largest crayfishes that I caught were about the size of lobsters that you can eat at a Red Lobster restaurant.   But the metal frame needs a net  –  so you tear apart an expendable T-shirt, then you thread it onto the circular “loop” part of the reshaped coat hanger.  Ideally the result is somewhat like a dipping net for an aquarium.

The coat-hanger “dipping net” is the tool to be used for catching (netting) the crayfish, but keep in mind that a crayfish will try to exit if caught, so you need a bucket of water to “land” your catch if and when you catch one.  So you need to bring a bucket (or a pail will do!) that is half-filled with water, and it must be positioned near the spot where you expect to net your crayfish.

The next trick is to get a crayfish to “jump” into your net, in the streamwater, just before you jerk the net up and out of the water (so the crayfish can’t exit your net, upon realizing that he or she is caught!).

But how do you entice a shy crayfish to “jump” into your net?  Actually, it’s not very difficult, although it requires sequenced (and quick) timing as you perform two rapid movements.  With your net ready to “stab” the water just behind the crayfish (i.e., where his or her tail is located), drop a clod of dirt (or a small rock) about 6 inches in front of the crayfish’s head and front claws.  Instantly plunge your net behind the crayfish – which is now “jumping” backward to avoid whatever you dropped into the water.  Then quickly jerk the net up out of the water – you should have the crayfish secured inside your net, for a moment at least, so now you quickly dump the net into your bucket of water, and shake the crayfish loose from the net.

Catching in a Net

Catching in a Net

[ Fair Use image credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/fHaQJN4LmGM/hqdefault.jpg ]

If your bucket is deep enough the crayfish is now covered in water, yet the water level needs to be low enough that the crayfish cannot swim to the top and then crawl out over the brim, to escape involuntary confinement.  Ironically, it was the crayfish’s reflex habit  —  the automatic “jump-back” reaction  —  that got the crayfish captured!

Captured!

Captured!

[ Fair Use image credit: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/About/General/2011/12/29/1325169553221/A-virile-right-and-a-sign-007.jpg ]

Now that you have a captive crayfish you need to feed it, to keep it alive, or else eat it (!) as you might a lobster, or just release it.  “Catch and release” is what I recommend.

But what does catching a crayfish have to do with the adventure of living the Christian life? 

The crayfish illustrates the danger of carelessly over-reacting to a perceived danger.  Because the crayfish is startled by the rock dropped (into water facing the crayfish), it automatically reacts by “jumping” backward  –  without checking to see if a net is waiting there, to capture it! Since the Christian life involves a lot of balancing, we need to be careful about over-reacting to this or that.  Regarding the need to avoid over-reacting, as a Christian who strives to honor God in this life, see Charles C. Ryrie’s indispensable guidebook, BALANCING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 252 pages.  [Thankfully, this book was provided to me, when I was a teenager, by my youth/college pastor, Chaplain Bob Webel.]

Over-reacting involves moving recklessly from one extreme to its opposite.  For an example of such over-reacting  —  “jumping” from one imbalanced extreme to another — consider how to teach children to inculcate a responsible “work ethic”.

In one Christian family, that I know, the parents were very concerned about raising children who might be lazy, unfocused, and/ or unresourceful.  (So far, so good.)   In other words, the parents wanted their children to have a “good work ethic”  –  self-initiative, goal-oriented diligence, and an entrepreneurial spirit,   —  to learn and practice practical life skills, so that they could be self-starters, as adults, who economically support themselves.

Of course, who would oppose teaching children a “good work ethic”?  Shouldn’t children learn to take the initiative, to recognize (and acquire) useful opportunities, to have productive ambitions, to focus on practical successes?

Yet promoting an entrepreneurial spirit, with an inner drive to ambitiously succeed in profitable work, can swing to an extreme that neglects altruistic service.  Without the balance of some commitment to altruistic service, however, the profit-motive-based ethic selfishly degrades to:  “If I don’t get paid money to do it, I won’t do it.”  That refusal to blend altruistic service (which the apostle Paul role-modeled in Acts 20:33-35) with a for-profit “work ethic” quickly uglifies into ordinary greed.  Is selfish greed better than selfish laziness?  Neither habit honors the Lord.  Both are wickedly sinful.  Both sins are ugly to look at  –  and, sad to say, we have many examples of both of those vices, lived out in front of us.

The Holy Bible provides a proper balance:  yes, we should work for profit and self-sustenance (2nd Thessalonians 3:10-12); however, some of the profit acquired should be used non-selfishly, to further the Lord’s work on earth (Matthew 6:19-21) and to compassionately “support the weak” (Acts 20:35).

Cooked Crayfish

Crayfish served at IKEA

So next time you catch a crayfish, or eat a plateful at a Swedish crayfish party, or eat one at a Cajun restaurant, remember this lesson: don’t carelessly over-react!   —   review the big picture, and maintain a Biblical balance in whatever you are doing (1st Corinthians 10:31).

><> JJSJ

Don’t Under-estimate Young Boys!

[Originally published May 31, 2020, by Dr. James J. S. Johnson on Bibleworld Adventures]

Don’t Under-estimate Young Boys!

(Boy 5 Years Old, Driving to California, to Buy a Lamborghini … etc.!)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Don’t under-estimate the big ideas of young boys—whether those boys are from Israel, Utah, or Oklahoma.

For example, Israel’s David, when young enough that some considered him as just a boy, successfully challenged and killed Goliath the gigantic Gittite.(1) And more recently, there’s kindergartner Adrian Zamarripa, who tried to drive from Ogden (Utah) to California, to buy himself a Lamborghini.(2),(3)

Lamborghini-Miura.on-dirt-road

For the Utah state trooper who made a “traffic stop”, the incident was not what he originally expected.

Trooper Rick Morgan … saw the car swerving so badly on Interstate 15 in Odgen, Utah, that he thought the driver was impaired or needed medical attention. He was driving 32 mph in an area with a speed limit of 70 mph. Morgan told the Associated Press that [the car’s driver] did not respond to his [flashing] lights but pulled over when he hit his siren. “I approached the vehicle and I was expecting to find somebody who needed an ambulance or paramedics,” Morgan said.(3)

But the driver was a 5-year-old kindergartener, Adrian Zamarippa.

Last week [May 4, 2020], 5-year-old Adrian Zamarripa took $3 out of his piggy bank, stole the keys to his parents’ SUV in Ogden, Utah, and went for a joyride on the freeway, following the signs that pointed south to Los Angeles. When the kindergartner was pulled over on Interstate 15 … he told the shocked highway patrol officer that he was on his way to California to buy a Lamborghini sports car.(2)

boy-age-5-wants-Lamborghini.dashcam-traffic-stop-AD2020

How did that happen?

Adrian’s 16-year-old sister, Sidney Flores, who was babysitting, had taken a nap about 11 a.m. while her mom and stepfather were away at work, and that’s when her little brother decided to take the keys from a hook near the door and go after his dream. “We thought he’d been kidnapped and we were all panicked,” said Sidney, speaking on behalf of her family because her parents understand limited English. “I called my mom at work and she came rushing home, crying,” she said. “It never occurred to any of us that he would take off in the car by himself. How would he know how to do that?” Nobody in the family had ever encouraged Adrian to drive, said Sidney, except for when he rode up and down the sidewalks in a battery-powered toy truck at age 2.(2)

Officer Morgan’s dash-cam video recording shows the vehicle pull over onto the multi-lane highway’s left shoulder, and stop, in response to Morgan’s flashing lights. Morgan then approached the driver’s window, to speak to the driver. The recording provides video and audio of this unusual encounter.

But when the window came down, Morgan said it was pretty clear that it was “a very under-aged driver who was behind the wheel.”(3)

Behind the wheel, in this case, meant sitting on the driver’s seat edge, so that his short legs could reach the brake pedal—it took both feet to brake the car to a full stop.  The dash-cam footage records audio of Officer Morgan questioning the young driver.(4)

“How old are you? You’re 5 years old?” Morgan says in the video. “Wow, OK. Where did you learn how to drive a car?” The boy told the trooper he was planning to drive to California to buy himself an Italian luxury sports car [specifically, a Lamborghini]. “He might have been short on the purchase amount, as he only had $3 dollars in his wallet,” the Utah Highway Patrol said in a statement on Twitter. The boy’s parents were contacted and they took custody of their son and the vehicle.(3)

Lamborghini-Miura.on-dirt-road

But Adrian is not the first precocious youngster to do what many would not imagine possible for someone so young, nor will he be the last.

More than a century ago, a 6-year-old boy named Jack played the piano, as his older brother fiddled, at a Texas saloon, earning big money for hours till midnight. But this opportunity was cut short by gunfire—and Jack’s saloon piano playing career was terminated by his mother, when she learned about the shooting.(5)

Jack Abernathy: Catching Live Wolves Bare-Handed - America Comes Alive

That little boy grew up to be “Catch-‘em-alive” Jack Abernathy, the youngest man to be appointed a U.S. Marshal—appointed by none other than Teddy Roosevelt.(5)  Jack was already famous for catching wild wolves alive, with his bare hands, so he could sell them to zoos. Later (as U.S. Marshal), he caught violent criminals, though his hands usually then held firearms.(5),(6)

How The Abernathy Boys Became The Most Adventurous Kids In History ...

If you think Catch-‘em-Alive Jack’s two precocious sons—Louis (“Bud”) and Temple (“Temp”—“I’m not a little boy; I’m a little man!”)—followed in their father’s footsteps, as daring adventurers, you’d be right.(6),(7)

The Astounding Adventures of the Abernathy Boys - 405 Magazine

Bud and Temp Abernathy took their first cowboy adventure in 1909, at ages 9 and 5 –traveling horseback (with a shotgun) from their home in Oklahoma to the Governor’s Mansion in New Mexico and back.(6),(7) One night they lodged with men who identified themselves as being “in the cattle business”; their hosts were cattle rustlers, who hospitably respected them, yet one of the rustlers had recently been in a gunfight where he tried to kill their father (Jack), who was then U.S. Marshal.(6),(7)

Buster Welch | RFD-TV :: Rural America's Most Important Network

On returning to a hometown welcome in Oklahoma, one lady emotionally questioned why their mother had permitted this reckless adventure—to which 5-year-old Temp replied that she was dead.(6)

The Abernathy Boys | Redtree Times

The next adventure Bud and Temp took in 1910, at ages 10 and 6, was to ride horses from their home in Oklahoma to New York City, unsupervised—more than 1500 miles.(6),(7) Bud sent telegrams to their father, on arrival in different cities along the way—including visiting Comanche Chief Quanah Parker (in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory) and, at the White House, President Taft, plus they briefly addressed both House of Congress.(6),(7)

The trip’s main goal was timely reached—rendezvousing with their dad (Jack, who arrived in New York City by train) at the port where Teddy Roosevelt would arrive, returning from his exploits in Africa.(6),(7) Teddy’s arrival was celebrated by a huge ticker-tape parade, with Bud and Temp (on horseback) immediately behind the former president’s car; the equestrian lads were followed by Teddy’s mounted Rough Riders.(6)

Abernathy-boys-NY-parade-with-Teddy.painting

Other adventures followed, including the boys (mostly Bud, as Temp could hardly reach the pedals) driving a small car from New York back to Oklahoma, while their horses rode the train.(6),(7)

The Abernathy Boys | Redtree Times

Soon afterward, in 1911, the two boys rode horses from the Atlantic Ocean (at New York) to the Pacific Ocean (at San Francisco), including a calamity where they almost died, after temporarily losing their horses.(6),(7)

Then there was a motorcycle trip in 1913, with stepbrother Anton.(6)

To recount details of just the highlights of the Abernathy boys’ adventures would require a book—in fact, more than one book, plus a museum.(6),(7),(8)

BUD & ME THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE ABERNATHY BOYS - Kindle ...

But there is at least one take-away lesson—for all of us—that we should never under-estimate the young. Children are capable of a whole lot more than most imagine!(9)

No wonder big-picture-thinking Christians invest resources and messaging efforts for reaching children (and more such outreach to come, God willing)—even very young kids are ripe for learning about their wonderful Creator.  Let us help, not hinder, them as they are learning about and coming toward the Lord Jesus Christ.(9)

Abernathy Boys Statue & Exhibit - Visit Frederick, OK    

References
  1. 1st Samuel 17:1-58.
  2. Free, C. 2020. Boy, 5, Steals Family Car in Attempt to Buy a Lamborghini. Posted on WashingtonPost.com (May 11, 2020) at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/05/11/boy-5-steals-family-car-attempt-buy-lamborghini-then-man-with-lamborghini-shows-up-his-house/ .
  3. Yancey-Bragg, N. 2020. 5-year-old Boy Caught Driving on Utah Highway was Heading to California for a Lamborghini. USA Today. Posted (May 5, 2020) at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/05/5-year-old-boy-utah-driving-california-buy-lamborghini/3083410001/ .
  4. Morgan, R. 2020. Utah Highway Patrol (dash-camera recording of Utah trooper conducting traffic stop of 5-year-old driver on Utah highway), May 4, 2020. Posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-W-ySng2t8 .
  5. Abernathy, J. R. 2006. Catch ‘em Alive Jack, The Life and Adventures of an American Pioneer. Lincoln, NE: Bison Books/ University of Nebraska Press. See also Marshal Jack Abernathy’s biographic highlights, posted at http://www.budandme.com/catch-em-alive-jack.php .
  6. Abernathy, A, with T. Abernathy. 1998. Bud & Me: The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys. Irving, TX: Dove Creek Press. See especially pages 13-19 (Jack Abernathy’s wolf-catching adventure with Teddy Roosevelt), pages 20-45 (OK è NM è OK horseback trip), pages 46-89 (OK è NY horseback trip), pages 90-108 (NY è OK roadster car trip); pages 116-150 (NY è CA horseback trip), pages 151-159 (motorcycle trip).  See also the online photo gallery of Bud and Temp, posted at http://www.budandme.com/photo-gallery.php .
  7. Abernathy, M. 2004. Ride the Wind: The Amazing True Story of the Abernathy Boys. Long Riders’ Guild Press (reprint of 1911 book then titled The Rides of the Abernathy Boys). See especially pages 1-65 (OK è NM è OK horseback trip), pages 66-111 (OK è NY horseback trip), pages 112-116 (NY è OK roadster car trip); page 116 (NY è CA horseback trip).
  8. The museum is located in Frederick, Oklahoma, near Wichita Falls, Texas.
  9. Matthew 19:14; Luke 18:16. See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2015. Attracted to Genesis by Magnets and a Bird Book. Acts & Facts. 44(8):19, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/attracted-genesis-by-magnets-bird-book .
    Exploring Oklahoma History - The Adventure of the Abernathy Boys

Not Deer or Bovine, So It Must Be An ‘Antelope’

Bibleworld Adventures has chosen to close down his website, due to a very busy schedule with work and his church ministries. We have decided to move his articles here. Baron has written articles here as Golden Eagle. This will preserve his and Dr. Johnson’s articles for us to enjoy. They are not about birds, but are all very interesting. Most are about a variety of our Creator’s amazing animals. [Will have a link to these pages in the sidebar as Bible World Adventures.]

Originally posted 2017/12/19

NOT DEER OR BOVINE, SO IT MUST BE AN ‘ANTELOPE’

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg [dîshōn], and the wild ox, and the chamois.   (Deuteronomy 14:5)

Addax-Morocco.Haytem93-photo

ADDAX male [photo credit: Haytem93]

Most likely the “Pygarg” [dîshōn] is what today is called an ADDAX.  An ADDAX is a desert-dwelling member of the ANTELOPE family.  [See George Cansdale, ALL THE ANIMALS OF THE BIBLE LANDS (Zondervan, 1976), page 85, saying “Among several quaint animal names found only in the AV [i.e., KJV] is the Pygarg, from Heb. dishon; this is merely a transliteration of the [LXX] Gr. Word meaning ‘white-rumped’, by which [Greeks] had long ago described an antelope. … [The reference in Deuteronomy 14:5] between two animals that are probably desert species, coupled with a long-standing tradition, suggests that this is the Addax, Addax nasomaculatus, a desert antelope classified between the oryx and hartebeests”.]antelope-family.jjsj-PPTslide

But, what is an antelope?

Antelope, and antelope-like animals, live in many different parts of the world—except not in Australia or Antarctica. For examples, pronghorns live mostly in America’s Western prairie states. The oryx live in Israel and many of the Arabian deserts.  The Dorcas gazelle lives in the top half of Africa.  Impalas live in eastern and southern Africa.

Serengeti-migraton-wildebeest-zebra.ZambesiSafari-photo

Wildebeests and Zebras migrate through Serengeti  /  Zambesi Safari photo

The blue wildebeest (also called “gnu”) are famous for their huge migratory herds, that often mix with zebras, that seasonally travel through Tanzania’s Serengeti.  Tibetan antelope, of course, live in Tibet, as well as in neighboring parts of Asia.  The Indian antelope (also called “blackbuck”) lives in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

GreatMigration-Serengeti.Pinterest

Great Migration (Serengeti & Masai Mara)  image credit: Pinterest

These plant-eating mammals (animals that give mother’s milk to their babies) are different from other four-legged mammals – such as deer, cattle, horses, camels, sheep, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs.

In many ways antelope (and antelope-like animals, like the pronghorns of America’s prairies) are like deer. But unlike deer, which have antlers (that grow and shed each year, then regrow the next year, and are later shed, etc.), antelopes have horns (like cattle, bison, sheep, and goats), which continue to slowly grow out from their heads, anchored to bony roots.

Impala-w-oxpecker.jjsj-PPTslide

Antelopes often live in flat grasslands (such as the grassy prairies of America’s West), where their plant-food is plentiful. However, in grasslands there are usually very few trees, so antelopes cannot hide in forests from other animals (such as mountain lions or wolves), so it is good that God made them to have great speed for running across flat land.  And that is what antelopes (and pronghorns, which are antelope-like animals) often do–with great speed!–when they run away from predators at high speeds—sometimes as fast as 55 miles/hour for a mile, or 42 miles/hour for 2 miles, or 35 miles/hour for 3 miles.Gazelle-foraging.jjsj-PPTslide

Dorcas is the Greek word for a gazelle, which is a member of the antelope family. Because gazelles are graceful and beautiful animals it is unsurprising that girl babies have been named Dorcas, including one who is mentioned in Scripture, in Acts chapter 9.Dorcas-philology.jjsj-PPTslide

Dorcas-Acts-chapter9.jjsj-PPTslide

In North America the primary antelope-like mammal is the PRONGHORN. To learn about this beautiful, graceful, and extremely speedy animals, see “Geography Matters, Illustrated by Pronghorns, Mountain Goats, and Old Testament Warfare”, posted at https://bibleworldadventures.com/2016/08/17/geography-matters-illustrated-by-pronghorns-mountain-goats-and-old-testament-warfare/ .

pronghorn-coming-fast.closeup-turning

When we see beauty, grace, strength, and speed — displayed in antelope (and antelope-like pronghorns) — we are reminded, by these living exhibits of God’s making, that God Himself is amazingly beautiful, graceful, strong, and quick, beyond our comprehension.

Bearded Vulture Visits England’s Oldest National Park

Bearded Vulture Visits England’s Oldest National Park

The only other British sighting of a Bearded Vulture occurred back in 2016 in Monmouthshire.2

This bird of prey has a commanding presence—it’s huge and hairy-looking! The bearded vulture is large: 3-4 feet long with a wingspan of 7-9 feet. It can weigh 10-17 pounds, with females being slightly larger than males. Unlike other vultures, the bearded vulture is not “bald-headed.” In fact, bristles under its chin look like a raggedly “beard,” hence the bird’s name.3

Birdwatchers have flocked to the moors to see the bearded vulture, which has only been seen once before in the UK, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said. But the trust’s Tim Birch said it “couldn’t have come to a worse spot in terms of bird of prey persecution”. … Mr Birch said as it was coming up to grouse shooting season, there were fears the rare raptor could be intentionally poisoned or shot. … However Richard Bailey, gamekeeper and co-ordinator of the Peak District Moorland Group, said “suggestions that this vulture is at risk from attack by gamekeepers” were wrong.1

Admittedly, the bearded vulture has a rough, if not thuggish, reputation. In Germany it is called lammergeier, meaning “lamb-hawk,” due to its habit of preying on lambs—not a positive reputation in agricultural communities. Also called “ossifrage” (meaning bone-breaker), about 80% of the bearded vulture’s diet is animal bone marrow, mostly from mammal bones, but also from bird bones.3,4

[Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s] Birch said the bearded vulture fed mainly on bones from carcasses, very rarely on live prey, and could swallow bones whole, which were dissolved in its stomach.1

Although scavenging can provide needed food, especially during the breeding season, these vultures often attack live prey, such as hares, rock hyraxes, marmots, and even monitor lizards. More so than predatory hawks or eagles, bearded vultures often attack larger mammals, such as sheep or goats, which are dropped from heights onto rocky surfaces to break their bones. Bearded vultures also grab turtles and drop them from heights to crack open their shells.3,5

Meanwhile, to say this mountain-dwelling bird is rare—only the second time ever observed in Great Britain—is an understatement.

Birdwatcher Indy Kiemel Greene, 15, who photographed the bearded vulture on Sunday, shared the trust’s fears for its safety. He said: “Unfortunately this bird is at great risk because the location that it’s at in the Derbyshire Peaks is well-known for raptor persecution….”1

Its preferred habitat is a high-altitude mix of rocky crags, cliffs, canyons, and montane gorges. So what is it now doing in England’s Peak District anyway?

[Tim Birch] said it was thought the raptor had come from the French or Swiss Alps, where the endangered species is being reintroduced. About 500 birdwatchers have come to catch a glimpse of the bird from all over the UK, as well as France, Spain and the Netherlands. … It is thought the bird could stay in the area for a couple of weeks if it has found food before eventually returning to the Alps.1

For birdwatchers (and videographers) who can visit the Peak District National Park, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. But if you visit the park with a pet poodle, keep your pet leashed and very close to you. No need to take a chance.

References
1. Burman, H. Fears for Bearded Vulture Spotted in the Peak DistrictBBC News. Posted on bbc.com July 14, 2020, accessed July 16, 2020.
2. Staff writer. Bearded Vulture Spotted Near Severn BridgeBBC News. Posted on bbc.com May 17, 2016, accessed July 16, 2020.
3. Jonsson, L. 1993. Birds of Europe, with North Africa and the Middle East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (transl. by David Christie), page 124. See also Clark, W. S. 1999. A Field Guide to the Raptors of Europe, the Middle east, and North Africa. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Pres, pages 56-60 & 302-303, plus Plate 12.
4. Obviously, bearded vultures are not the only predators adept at cracking and crushing bones of their prey—lions have earned a similar reputation (Daniel 6:24).
5. Other large-winged birds of prey are noted for dropping their victims in order to prepare them for ingestion. For example, near Jerusalem, eagles soar while scouting for mammals or reptiles; these same eagles are known to snatch tortoises, and to “kill [them] by dropping and smashing [the tortoises] on rocks from high in the air” (Quoting Noel and Helen Snyder. 1991. Birds of Prey. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 164).

*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.

JAMES J. S. JOHNSON, J.D., TH.D. *  |

[Re-posted from ICR article at https://www.icr.org/article/bearded-vulture-visit-england-oldest-national-park ]

Reposted here with Dr. Jim’s permission and at his request. (Lee)

 

See Also:

James J. S. Johnson’s other articles here

Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage

Birds of the Bible – Gathering of Vultures or Eagles

Gannet Blown Off-Course, by Strong Winds

Gannet Blown Off-Course, by Strong Winds

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. (Isaiah 25:4)

Gannet at Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire England (Wikipedia photo credit)

What is an oceanic fish-eating seabird doing atop an inland trampoline in England? That was the question, recently, when a North Atlantic Gannet was seen resting on a British trampoline.(1)

Later, the weary-looking gannet moved to a garden, before it was gently captured by a resident (using a towel), who turned the poor seabird over to animal carers, who should return the bird to the wild after its health is aptly rehabilitated.

A seabird native to the North Atlantic has been rescued by the RSPCA after it took up residence in a Norfolk garden. Dawn Austin discovered the gannet resting on a trampoline in her North Wootton garden on Tuesday [June 2, 2020] and contacted vets when it did not fly away. … [Someone with] the RSPCA [Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] said there were no “obvious injuries” but the gannet was “very weak” and vets were doing all they could to help him. … feeding him three times a day as he was unable to feed himself, but they hoped that “having a chance to rest and recover” would help him “find the strength to pull through”.(1)

But gannets are seabirds—they belong at sea, not on trampolines! Gannets are gregarious seagulls that go far offshore to scoop up North Atlantic fish.

Gannets are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can dive at speeds of 60mph (96.5kmh) to catch fish.(1)

The largest seabirds in the North Atlantic can travel hundreds of miles from their homes just to catch food. … by following their elders. Scientists recorded thousands of [these] seabirds commuting to and from the Bass Rock, in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.(2)

So how did the ocean-faring gannet end up resting on an inland trampoline? The animal protection charity guessed that the bird “was blown off course”.(1)

This is understandable, since the British Isles (and their coastal waters) have been experiencing some weird weather lately.(3)

Gannet flying over the Celtic Sea, near Ireland (Wikipedia photo credit)

Meanwhile, being blown off-course can change an individual’s destiny, and thus also he destinies of progeny who descend from that individual.(4)

And, in some cases, a ship being blown off-course can lead to world-changing consequences.(5),(6)

Consider how the apostle Paul, and those traveling with him in a boat, were blown off-course—and eventually shipwrecked off the coast of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea.(5) Paul’s ministry unto Maltese individuals would not have occurred had it not been for the “accidental” shipwreck that providentially occurred there.(6)

Likewise, the Mayflower Separatists (“Pilgrims”) who sailed west in A.D.1620—400 years ago—were blown off-course, reaching (and settling in) what is now part of Massachusetts, rather than territory farther south (in “Virginia”, which then stretched up to the Hudson River) as planned.(5)

Yet God’s providence, seen in hindsight, makes sense of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth—and thus the Pilgrims were forced to establish their own Scripture-based form of colonial self-government, rather than the Pilgrims arriving in “Virginia” territory, to merely join a preexisting colony south of Plymouth.(5)

Being blown off-course can be scary, to be sure—losing control (or, or put more accurately), losing the feeling of being in control) is usually a nerve-wracking experience. Yet God is in control—even in the storms of life.(7)

Morus bassanus adu.jpg
Gannet aloft (photo credit: Andreas Trepte / Wikipedia)

References

And, providentially speaking, sometimes an unexpected destination includes some unexpected help from strangers, such as Squanto and Hobomok, if you are a Mayflower Pilgrim. Or, if you are a wind-tossed seabird like a North Atlantic gannet, the help might come from Dawn Austin and some RSPCA vets.(8)

  1. Staff writer. 2020. North Atlantic Gannet Found on Norfolk Trampoline. BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-52938253 .  
  2. “By demonstrating that young gannets follow more experienced adults, we have shown that knowledge about the best feeding grounds may be being passed down from generation to generation.” Staff writer. 2019. Scientists Solve Mystery Behind How Gannets Hunt for Fish. BBC News – Scotland (November 1, 2019), posted athttps://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-50267180 . See also Wakefield, E. W., R. W. Furness, et al. 2019. Immature Gannets Follow Adults in Commuting Flocks Providing a Potential Mechanism for Social Learning. Journal of Avian Biology. Posted (September 18, 2019) at  https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.02164
  3. “A top climate scientist has called for more investment in climate computing to explain the UK’s recent topsy-turvy weather.” Harrabin, R. 2020. Weird weather: Can computers solve UK puzzle? BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52921479 .
  4. Johnson, J. S. S. 2014. People Yet to Be Created. Acts & Facts. 43(11):20, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/people-yet-be-created .
  5. It was 400 years ago that the Mayflower providentially sailed for America, arriving at Plymouth (Massachusetts). See James J. S. Johnson, Mechanical Multi-tasking on the Mayflower. Acts & Facts. 46(11):21 (November 2017), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/mechanical-multitasking-mayflower .  See also James J. S. Johnson, Maple Syrup, Gold Nanoparticles, and Gratitude. Creation Science Update (May 25, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/maple-syrup-gold-nanoparticles-and-gratitude . The Spanish Armada’s disastrous experiences with “freak” storms during 1588 would be another example of sea-storms with historic consequences.
  6. Regarding the apostle Paul’s providential visit to and ministry at Malta, via shipwreck, see Acts 27:6-28:11.
  7. God is our personal refuge in all of the storms of life. Isaiah 25:4.
  8. God cares for birds at the individual level. Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6-7.

How Much Are You Being Monitored? A Hummingbird Lesson

How Much Are You Being Monitored? A Hummingbird Lesson

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  (Matthew 5:14-16)

hummingbird-trumpetvine.HaroldADavis

Hummingbird at Trumpet Vine blossom (Harold A. Davis photo)

Beware! – you are being watched, more than you know!

In some neighborhoods surveillance is all around—neighbors watching neighbors, using cell-phones to document questionable (“non-essential”) activities, to see if pet dogs are on leashes, and to see if people are six feet apart when talking to others who are out and about. Neighbors are calling the local police on neighbors, to enforce social distancing, travel restrictions, and other disaster protocols.(1)

In short, if you are outside, you are being monitored! But is this really new?

Actually, we are being watched all the time, by neighbors, by family members, by co-workers, at the grocery store, at church, and in many other places.(2)

A birdwatching friend’s recent email reminded me of that fact, when he (Thomas Lane) reported on his home’s avian visitors.

Good to hear from you.  I am working from home … I’m also enjoying watching the bluebirds in the backyard – they are raising young and busy gathering food for them.  We built several bluebird boxes a few years ago and always have at least one couple nesting here.  We also have a couple of hummingbirds that have returned to the feeder, and we are waiting for the rest.  We typically have 5 feeders out in various places.(3)

Hummingbirds-at-feeder.Flickr

Hummingbirds at feeder (Flickr photo)

As spring blossoms into April (and May), the nectar pantries of bright-hued flowers are “open for business”, ready to feed the voracious appetites of neighborhood hummingbirds  —  those petite, iridescence-sparkled, blurry-winged wonders with super-sized metabolic fuel needs.  Floral nectar is a sweet resource!

Yet, as flowers bloom in spring, such fly-by “fast-food” opportunities cannot be taken for granted, especially if one is an energy-craving hummingbird.

Hummingbirds are famous for their (males’) jewel-like throats, their hovering and multi-directional flying, and their ability to change directions   —  stop, go, up, down, left, right, backward, forward, — using high-speed wings that whip figure-eight patterns faster than human eyes can follow, producing a humming sound (that explains their name) that almost sounds like a contented cat purring.

Hummingbirds, due to their speedy, darting movements, and their iridescent green colors, attract the eye.  So you see them  –  zip!  –  then you don’t.  Zip!  –  then you see them again.

Spring always flows into summer.(4) The summer range of hummingbirds (such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris) is broad enough that most of us have seen hummingbirds. But, as time goes by, there is no time for hummingbirds to relax  —  their needle-like bills must sip up nectar wherever and whenever it is available! The business of a hummingbird’s life is so intense, so metabolically demanding, that slurping up available nectar is a lifestyle priority, requiring dietary focus and persistence:  “Get nectar, get more nectar, get even more nectar!  Hurry, hurry, hurry!”  Sugar substitutes are unacceptable for hummingbirds – they must have real sugar to thrive.(5)

What an enormous appetite for such a miniature bird!  The calories consumed and burned by hummingbirds, on a boy weight ratio, are comparable to a human eating more than a 1000 hamburgers every day, as body fuel needed for a day’s normal activities!(6) That is high-maintenance metabolism!

Reading my friend’s email (quoted above) reminded me of when I saw, in my own backyard, a hungry hummingbird hovering by brilliant vermillion flowers, as he (or she) slurped up nectar from one flower, then another flower, then another, — without any (apparent) concern for my physical presence or proximity, only a few steps from him (or her).

Hummingbird-at-TrumpetVine-MikeLentz

Hummingbird at Trumpet Vine blossom (Mike Lentz photo)

Why was the buzzing hummer oblivious of me, the birdwatcher so close by?

The hungry hummer was too preoccupied with the pressing business of life, to notice me, a quiet spectator.  What a privilege it was, to watch – for a long time, actually – this sparkling-in-the-sunlight hummingbird, darting among the bright flowers.

Yet are not our own lives, at least somewhat, like that busy hummingbird?

Are we not – day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, moment by moment – preoccupied with the ever-pressing business of life (especially when daily routines are altered by changed circumstances—such as pandemic disaster restrictions), darting here-and-there, from this task to the next one, such that we often ignore the spectators, those watching eyes who observe and appreciate our lives – those who (hopefully) see God’s beauty and wisdom imaged in our own attitudes and actions?

Yes, we have audiences we should not be oblivious of.  As we live the moments of our fast-paced lives we should not forget three audiences, who watch us much more than we consciously realize.

First, there are many curious humans who watch our busy lives, especially those who are younger than us.  What kind of role-models are we?  Hopefully our Christian lives are like the Thessalonian believers whom Paul commended as examples to all of the believers in Macedonia and Greece.(7)

Who is monitoring us? Who is listening?  Who is evaluating the message(s) of our lives, comparing our “walk” to our “talk”?  Do our lives “shine” as God’s testifying “lights”, such that our good deeds prompt spectators to glorify God our Heavenly Father?(8)

Second, there are non-human spectators surveilling our lives:  angels!   Angels learn from watching the “spectacle” of human lives.(9) Indeed, the effect of God’s gospel of grace, in the earthly lives of redeemed humans, is something that angels can only learn about as spectators, since redemption is never experienced by angels.(10)

Yet the most important audience we have, always, is the Lord Himself  (Jehovah-jireh, the God Who is and sees), our omniscient and omnipresent Creator-God.  It is our wonderful Maker Who watches every sparrow’s (and every hummingbird’s) avian lifespan, and we are of much greater value to God than the lives of many sparrows.(11)

As the Lord Jesus Christ’s vicarious death and resurrection has peremptorily proved, for all time and eternity, we humans are God’s favorite creatures.  God is caringly concerned with every detail of our busy lives (from creation to ultimate redemption), so let us not be oblivious to our most important Audience.

Do we live our earthly lives as ingrates, ignoring Him and His Word?  Or do we live life appreciative of Him and His Word, grateful that He created us and provided us with redemption in Christ?

Accordingly, with these three audiences in mind, as spectators of our busy lives, let us consider the prophet Ezekiel’s serious question: “How should we then live?”(12)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.(8)

Hummingbird-TrumpetVine-HaroldADavis

Hummingbird getting nectar at Trumpet Vine (Harold A. Davis photo)

REFERENCES

(1) Declarations of “disaster”, from Wuhan (China) spreading to South Korea, then to dozens of European nations, plus many parts of America and other nations (excluding Singapore), have led to many government-promulgated “stay-at-home” mandates, being enforced by a combination of government and private sector actions. Johnson, James J. S. 2020. Turtles, Birdwatching, and Living through Tough Times. ICR News: Creation Science Update (March 30, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/turtles-birdwatching-living-through-tough-times . See also Johnson, James J. S. 2020. “Getting Crabby Over Labor Shortage”. ICR News: Creation Science Update  (March 24, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/getting-crabby-over-labor-shortages .

(2) 2nd Corinthians 3:2-3 (“living epistles”).

(3) Email correspondence from Thomas Lane, April 1, 2020.

(4) Genesis 8:22.

(5) Mitchell, Elizabeth. 2014. Our Creator’s Sweet Design for Hummingbird Taste (Answers in Genesis: News to Know, September 6, 2014), posted https://answersingenesis.org/birds/our-creators-sweet-design-hummingbird-taste/ (with a link, in Footnote #1, to video footage of hummingbird sugar consumption). See also Sherwin, F. 2006. Hummingbirds at ICR. Acts & Facts. 35(9), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hummingbirds-at-icr/ .

(6) Dreves, Denis. 1991. H Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. 14(1):10-12.

(7) 1st Thessalonians 1:7.

(8) Matthew 5:16.

(9) 1st Corinthians 4:9(Paul is referring to the apostles, yet the indirect implication is that the righteous angels learn from observing the lives of ordinary Christians.)

(10) 1st Peter 1:12.

(11) Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:7.

(12) Ezekiel 33:10.

Hummingbird.Purple-throated-Carib-Wikipedia

Purple-throated Hummingbird of the Caribbean (Wikipedia photo)

Watch Out! We Need Sentinels in Perilous Times

Watch Out! We Need Sentinels in Perilous Times

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2nd Timothy 3:1)

Southern-Pied-Babbler.TheFlacks

Southern Pied Babbler (The Flacks)

Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.(1)

One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle is the need to beware of—and to forewarn others about—irreverent scoffers who try to distort and resist God’s truth, as we contend earnestly for the truth that God has given.(2)

Yet, even bird populations must watch out for lurking hazards and airborne threats in their nesting neighborhoods and while visiting migratory stopovers—predators on foot, like wolves, or in air, like hawks!(3),(4)

One habit that prey populations often exhibit, to careful observers, is the practice of appointing a “sentinel”—a “watchman on the wall”, so to speak.(5),(6)

One bird—sometimes more—of the flock is assigned the role of warning (called “alarming”) the others who are foraging (i.e., eating) or otherwise occupied with nest-building or other activities. In some groups sentinel duty is rotated—taking turns at “guard duty”—while in other groups the responsibility is sorted as a division-of-labor assignment, such as male birds more often serving as sentinels.(6),(7),(8)

This is quite puzzling to evolutionists, who assume that, ultimately, there needs to be a selfish advantage for every activity, as opposed to some creatures behaving altruistically, because that is what they do (or are programmed to do).(7),(8)

Sentinel behaviour, where individuals take turns to watch for danger and give alarm calls to approaching predators, has been observed in a number of animal societies. However, the evolutionary causes of this behaviour remain unclear. There are two main, competing hypotheses regarding the evolution of sentinel behaviour. The first hypothesis is that it is a cooperative behaviour, where group members benefit from the detection of danger but share the workload of acting as a sentinel. The second is that it is a safe, selfish behaviour. Under the second hypothesis, once an individual is satiated, being a sentinel is safer because sentinels can detect threats more readily and can therefore escape from predators faster. (7)

But what are the observable facts about sentinels? Is their service somehow a selfish benefit to themselves, when they serve as their group’s watchmen?

Or, are some sentinel creatures actually behaving in altruistic ways, protecting the group they belong to, at greater risk (or other cost) to themselves?

We examined whether sentinels are safer than foragers in a wild, free-living cooperative bird (the pied babbler, Turdoides bicolor) with a well-described sentinel system. We found that sentinel behaviour was costly because (a) sentinels were targeted by predators more often, (b) they were further from cover than foragers, and (c) they took longer to reach the safety of cover following a predator alarm.(7)

In fact, animals exhibit some behaviors that—if practiced by humans—would be called “selfish” and “cruel”, as well as other behaviors that we call “altruistic” and “self-sacrificing”.

These results suggest that individuals do not become sentinels because it is safer. This is the first study to demonstrate that sentinels are at greater risk of predator attack than foraging group members and suggests sentinel activity may have evolved [sic] as a form of cooperative behaviour.(7)

However, moral accountability is unique to human behavior, because only we humans—being uniquely made in God’s image—are Earth-dwelling creatures that have true moral accountability for our activities.(9)

It is important to sound the alarm, early, when doing so can prevent—or at least mitigate—an approaching disaster. Sometimes the messenger of bad news pays a price (for delivering an unwelcome message), but it’s better to sound the alarm early—hopefully early enough to prevent harm—than to delay a warning that leads to damage-control problems that grow costlier with time.(1),(2),(5),(6)

Of course, caringly sharing the Gospel of redemption in Christ is the best warning of all, even if it involves costly risks.(5)

SouthernPiedBabbler.SoesNature-n-Art

Southern Pied Babbler (Soes Nature & Art)

References

  1. Matthew 8:28; 2nd Timothy 3:1.
  2. Jude 1:3-4. See also Psalm 119, Acts 20:28-31, and 2nd Peter 2:12-19. See also Footnote 6 within Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Maple Syrup, Gold Nanoparticles, and Gratitude. Creation Science Update (May 25, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/maple-syrup-gold-nanoparticles-and-gratitude.
  3. Johnson, J. J. S. 2017. Securing Nests and Nestlings from Parasites and Predators, in Norway and Beyond. Nordic Legacy Series (Norwegian Society of Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, November 26, 2017), 9 pages.
  4. Prey-predator relationships can be both complicated and detailed. See Sherwin, F. 2016. Smart and Stealthy Cuttlefish. Creation Science Update (January 11, 2016), at https://www.icr.org/article/smart-stealthy-cuttlefish . See also Sherwin, F. 2005. All Out War in the Cornfield. Acts & Facts. 34(8), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/all-out-war-cornfield . For one of the most unusual illustrations of defense against predators, listen to Frank Sherwin’s podcast titled “Bombardier Beetle” (July 17, 2017), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/bombardier-beetle .
  5. Ezekiel 33:2-10, especially 33:7. Compare also 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 with John 3:14-21.
  6. Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Jackdaws Identify ‘Dangerous’ from ‘Safe’ Humans. Creation Science Update (May 4, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/jackdaws-identify-dangerous-from-safe-humans .
  7. Ridley, A. R., M. J. Nelson-Flower, et al. 2013. Is Sentinel Behaviour Safe? An Experimental Investigation. Animal Behaviour. 85(1):137-142, posted at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0003347212004770 .
  8. Wright, J., E. Berg, et al. 2001. Safe Selfish Sentinels in a Cooperative Bird. Journal of Animal Ecology. 70:1070-1079.
  9. Genesis 1:26-27. See also Acts 20:35 and Philippians 2:5-11.

 

Alaskans Alcids, Designed by God for Flowing through Both ‘Oceans’

Alaskan Alcids:  Efficiently Designed by God for Flowing through Both ‘Oceans’

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

CommonMurre-aloft-Alaska.TomIngram-photo

COMMON MURRE Tom Ingram photo

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.  (Genesis 1:20-22)

About a year ago (specifically, July 19th AD2019), this writer saw–for the first time–Atlantic puffins in the wild.  These cute clown-faced alcids were flying near (and sometimes resting upon) the cliff-dominated isle of Staffa, often plunging into coastal waters for fish.  That privileged birdwatching experience is reported on this blogsite at  “Birdwatching at Staffa, Near Iona:  Puffins, Shags, and Herring Gulls” [posted at https://leesbird.com/2019/07/22/birdwatching-at-staffa-puffins-shags-more/ ].

In this blogpost, however, it is alcids near the coastal waters of Alaska (and thus the northern Pacific Ocean) that are the subject of our attention.

Recent research, on the flying behavior of Alaskan alcids—auk-like birds (such as murres, guillemots, and puffins)—shows how Earth has two kinds of fluid-filled “oceans”, the liquid ocean of sea-water and the gaseous “ocean” of air.(1),(2),(3)

The study reveals that these birds, from the Alcidae family which includes puffins, murres and their relatives, produce efficient propulsive wakes while flying and swimming. This means that the animals likely spend relatively low amounts of metabolic energy when creating the force [that] they need to move in both air and water.(1)

Common-Murre-raft-Alaska.TikiJoe-photo

COMMON MURRE Tiki Joe photo

Maybe you don’t think of Earth’s atmosphere as an “ocean” of air, but a creation science pioneer, Matthew Maury, did. In fact, Maury is famous for his scientific breakthroughs in oceanography, which analyzes ocean sea-water dynamics—and also in meteorology, which analyzes atmospheric dynamics.(3)

The two oceans of air and water. Our planet is invested with two great oceans; one visible, the other invisible; one underfoot, the other overhead; one entirely envelopes it, the other covers about two-thirds of its surface. All the water of the one weighs about 400 times as much as all the air of the other.(3)

It’s all about fluid mechanics, including avian applications for efficient motions inside both “oceans”. The study included videographic documentation of flying, diving, and swimming by murres, guillemots, and puffins.

Puffin-sailing-aloft-Alaska.PeterStahl-photo

PUFFIN catching wind like a sailboat (Peter Stahl photo)

Study animals were common murres (Uria aalge, Pontoppidan 1763), pigeon guillemots (Cepphus Columba, Pallas 1811), horned puffins (Fratercula corniculata, Naumann 1821), and tufted puffins (Fratercula corniculate, Pallas 1769). Filming of aquatic flight was performed at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska. … At the time of this study, the exhibit contained 12 horned puffins, 10 tufted puffins, 4 pigeon guillemots, and 6 common murres. Individuals of each species of alcid regularly swam past the viewing window. … Given the clear contrasts between these two behaviors, we differentiate between horizontal (trajectory <10 deg) and descending aquatic flight (trajectory >20 deg). The birds swam on their own volition and selected their own swimming speeds and descent angles. Videos of aquatic flight of all four species were taken ….(2)

But would evolution predict that alcids are fitted for such efficiency?

Birds that use their wings for ‘flight’ in both air and water are expected to fly poorly in each fluid relative to single-fluid specialists; that is, these jacks-of-all-trades should be the masters of none.(2)

But the evolutionists guessed wrong when they suspected that these Alsakan alcids would be inefficient when moving in both fluid “oceans”.

Alcids exhibit exceptional dive performance while retaining aerial flight. We hypothesized that alcids maintain efficient Strouhal numbers and stroke velocities across air and water, allowing them to mitigate the costs of their ‘fluid generalism’. We show that alcids cruise at Strouhal numbers between 0.10 and 0.40 – on par with single-fluid specialists – in both air and water but flap their wings ~ 50% slower in water. Thus, these species either contract their muscles at inefficient velocities or maintain a two-geared muscle system, highlighting a clear cost to using the same morphology for locomotion in two fluids. Additionally, alcids varied stroke-plane angle between air and water and chord angle during aquatic flight, expanding their performance envelope.(2)

Tufted-Puffins-Alaska.TimMelling-photo

TUFTED PUFFINS Tim Melling photo

Thus, because God designed alcids to move in both fluids—liquid sea-water and gaseous air currents—God brilliantly programmed how they move in those two fluid environments.(4)

This mobile efficiency surprises evolutionists, but not Biblical creationists.

Interestingly, birds in the family Alcidae (puffins, murres, and their relatives) seem to contradict the notion of a trade-off between aerial and aquatic flight performance.(2)

Biomechanics is the field of biology that studies the action of internal and external forces on the living body, especially the skeletal system. Also called bioengineering, this fascinating area analyzes biological design and the physical forces associated with humans and animals. If ever there was evidence for creation on a macroscopic scale (Romans 1:20), it would be the vast array of creatures all over the world marvelously designed to move in and fill their environments based on these amazing design features.(8)

In fact, long ago, the Scriptures mentioned the magnificent ability of birds to fly, taking advantage of flowing air currents according to their availability.(5)

It should never surprise Christians to learn that God has carefully and caringly designed and bioengineered birds (including cute little alcids like puffins, murres, adn guillemots!)—all over the world—to fit and to fill their respective habitats, even in this fallen world.

Also it should not surprise Christians when evolutionists fail to give God credit for His handiwork—because not having “eyes to see” God’s Creatorship, evolutionists routinely imagine optimized biological behaviors (like alcids swimming, diving, and flying) as accidental products of “evolution”—as if merely using the word “evolution” somehow justifies believing that blind mindless luck did it all.(6),(7)

Common-Murre-liftoff-from-sea.TkiJoe-photo

COMMON MURRE liftoff form sea (Tiki Joe photo)

References

  1. Staff writer. 2020. Scientists Shed New Light on How Seabirds Cruise through Air and Water. Science Daily (June 30, 2020), posted at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200630193211.htm .
  2. Lapsansky, A., D. Zatz, and B. W. Tobalske. 2020. Alcids ‘Fly’ at Efficient Strouhal Numbers in Both Air and Water, But Vary Stroke Velocity and Angle. Posted on eLife (June 30, 2020), posted https://elifesciences.org/articles/55774 .
  3. Maury, M. F. 1855. The Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc. (2003 reprint of Harvard University Press’s Belknap Press 1963 edition, including some revisions from Maury’s 8th edition published in 1861), 23-37, with quotations from page 23.
  4. Enticott, J., and D. Tipling. 1997. Seabirds of the World. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 213-227, especially pages 214-217 (murres and guillemots) & 226-227 (puffins). See also Kikuchi, D. M., Y. Watanuki, N. Sato, et al. 2015. Strouhal Number in Flying and Swimming in Rhinocerous Auklets Cerorhinca monocerata. Journal of Avian Biology. 46:406-411. Penguins, like alcids, “fly” underwater. Watanuki, Y., S. Wanless, M. Harris, et al. 2006. Swim Speeds and Stroke Patterns in Wing-propelled Divers: A Comparison among Alcids and Penguins. Journal of Experimental Biology. 209:12117-1230.
  5. The Hebrew verb paras used in Job 39:26, for the hawk’s wind-harnessing flight, is also used in Isaiah 33:23, to describe wind-harnessing of boat-sails in sea-water. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward. Acts & Facts. 47(4):21, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward , especially at Footnote # 5. Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2 Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19). See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2008. Alaska’s Coastal Rainforests and Two of its Rangers, the Bald Eagle and the Alaska Moose. (Dallas: NWD Press/RCCL’s Radiance of the Seas), pages 10-11.
  6. 1 Timothy 6:
  7. Johnson, J. S. 2010. Survival of the Fitted: God’s Providential Programming. Acts & Facts. 39(10):17-18, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/survival-fitted-gods-providential-programming .
  8. Sherwin, F. 2017. Architecture and Engineering in Created Creatures. Acts & Facts. 46(10):10-12, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/architecture-engineering-created-creatures .

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