SCIENTIFIC FACTS AGAINST EVOLUTION
WONDERS OF DESIGN - # 2
OF THE BAT-We mention the bat in chapter 28, but here is more
information about this incredible creature:
Although they have good eyesight, it is wellknown that bats fly by
sonar. They emit highfrequency sounds which the human ear cannot hear.
The returning echo of those sounds places "sound-print" pictures in
their minds. Using this technique, a bat can "see" and catch a tiny,
But there are more wonders here than we would otherwise have imagined: A
bat can vary the pitch of that sound. The higher it is, the smaller the
surface its echo can reveal. Some sounds are so high that they can
enable the little bat to detect the presence of a wire no thicker than a
human hair stretched across its pathway.
Then there is the intensity of that sound. The louder it is, the more
distant the object that can be detected. So these calls are generally
loud; so loud, in fact, that they would strike our ears as though they
came from air‑hammers, except that, by design, they are so high‑pitched
that we cannot hear them. God designed these noises, as loud as a
pneumatic drill, to be in a range which would be soundless to us.
But wait! If it is necessary for a bat to make such a loud sound, in
order to have it echo back from a distant object,-how can the bat
possibly hear the echo with its ears, in the midst of all the racket it
is making with its mouth?
This is a good question, for it would, indeed, be a very real problem.
The ear of the bat was designed to be extremely sensitive, so that it
can hear very faint sounds. Yet just a few of its screams would quickly
deafen it! The Designer solved this problem also: There is a special
muscle in the middle ear of the bat. It is attached to one of three tiny
bones which transmits the vibrations of the eardrum to the tubular .
organ in the skull that converts them into nerve signals sent to the
brain. Just as each scream is on the verge of being emitted, this muscle
instantly pulls back that bone, so that it does not transmit sound from
the outer ear to the inner ear. The eardrum is momentarily disconnected!
Then, after the scream is ended, that muscle relaxes‑and the bone moves
back into place, and faint sounds can be heard. This back‑and‑forth
motion of that bone occurs more than a hundred times a second! And it
always occurs in perfect alignment with the sending of the super-short
But there is still more: The faster these sounds are emitted, the more
up-to-date information the bat will receive. Fast reception of
information is especially needed when the little fellow is flying around
the curves inside the cave, or is flying among the branches of a forest.
Some bats can send out 200 quick screams a second. Each sound lasts only
a thousandth of a second, and each is spaced just the right distance
from the other so that each echo is clearly heard.
Talk about the amazing honey bee; who designed the bat! This creature is
astounding. Frequently in this set of books, it is stated that Creation
is a proven fact, not a possible alternative theory as some suggest. It
is the laws of nature and the things of nature which prove Creationism;
no other possibility could suffice. God made us. Accept the fact, for it
is true. Not to accept it is to lie to yourself, and soon you are
enmeshed in a habit of believing fanciful, foolish theories which, in
reality, are obviously wrong.
Located in the southern African deserts, the fenestraria grows
underground and only a small transparent window is exposed above the
surface. This window is made of translucent cells and has two layers.
Scientists were amazed to discover that the outer layer blocks the most
damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, and the inner layer reduces and
diffuses the light to a safe level for the green photosynthetic tissue
of the buried plant. How could the plant know how to do all that?
Frankly, it couldn't.
Do you want to design a better greenhouse? Go study the fenestraria.
Someone may eventually do it, and produce far more efficient greenhouses
than we have today.
By that time, all its enemies have fled to shade rocks or burrows to
escape from the burning heat, and the little ant ventures out to find
its lunch. At about the same time, hundreds cf these little ants crawl
out of tiny tunnels and scurry off in search of dead insects. For an
hour or so, they run here and there, zigzagging across the hot sand
dunes. What they do must be done quickly‑before they are overcome with
As each ant travels, it pauses every few seconds, raises its head and
moves it around. Then it dashes off in a new direction. Eventually,
mealhunting time is over and the little fellow must return to its nest
with the collected food. But where is the nest? How can the little
creature possibly know where it is located? Yet, without a pause, the
tiny ant sets off in a certain direction‑and runs straight for a
distance of up to 150 yards exactly to its nest hole!
After making careful observations, researchers concluded that it was
during that moment of headlifting and turning that the ant oriented
itself. The scientists rigged mirrors which gave a false impression of
where the sun was located-and, at the end of the food-gathering trip,
the ant was not able to find its way back to the nests. Obviously, this
means that the little ant, with a brain smaller than a grain of sand,
was constantly memorizing directional locations as, every few seconds,
it looked up and then started off in a new direction. And it was able to
use the angle of an ever‑moving sun as the norm for making those
In the wild they grow on hilltops in the remote Seychelles Islands. But
researchers are baffled by their location on hilltops. How did they get
there? Did the 45-pound coconuts roll uphill? The wind surely did not
blow them up there. One would
them to keep traveling farther and farther downhill, with each new
generation. No known native animal or bird would be capable of carrying
them up there. To add to the mystery, these coconuts sink in the water,
so how did they get to the Seychelles Islands in the first place?
Instead of waiting around long enough to die in the heat, the little
moths begin a long journey. Northward they travel to the Australian
mountains. Each year they take exactly the same route that their
ancestors took in previous years. Yet, just like their ancestors, they
themselves have never before taken that trip-for they were born the same
year they took it. Arriving at the foot of the mountains, they begin
flying up and up the slopes, until they arrive at nearly 4,000-foot
elevations. Some go on up to 4,500-foot locations.
The moths have arrived at piles of immense granite boulders near the
summits. They alight on the boulders-and crawl into shady cracks.
Packing close together, they look like tiles on a rooftop. In this high,
cold place they go into a state of suspended animation, and remain there
until the fall when they will return to lower elevatiions and lay their
eggs next spring in the sand. Then they will die, and a new generation
of moths will emerge in early summer-and soon thereafter wing their
flight to the high northern mountains.
When the plant is dampened, it unfurls and becomes green within 15
When the plant is dampened, it unfurls and becomes green within 15
Working together, they build underground houses which are 90 feet long,
with many side rooms. It is all something of a complicated apartment
house. But the ventilation is crucial; how are they going to get the air
moving through it? How would you do it? Admit it; using only natural
materials found on a prairie, neither you nor I would probably not know.
But the prairie dog does it anyway-and quite successfully. Each tunnel
has two openings, one at each end. But they are not constructed the same
way. One opens flat on the surface of the prairie. The other rises up
through a foot-tall chimney of mud and stones. Why does the prairie dog
arrange the openings that way? He does not know why; he just does it.
The Master Programmer coded it into his DNA to build his house that way;
just as He coded his fur to keep him warm, eyes to see with, and ears to
listen to what goes on around him.
A marvelous design factor is in that foot-tall chimney. Wind moves
faster a little above ground than it does at ground level. With one
chimney, the air inside the apartment house is sucked out, and fresh air
is drawn in through the lower entrance. But with no chimneys-or with
two, the air inside would remain stagnant.
The larger nesting birds tend to make rough stick nests. But many of the
smaller ones make delicate cup nests. Inside a twig cup, a lining of
softer material is placed. This might be dried grass, or something
similar. Thrushes use mud, the bearded tit prefers flower petals. The
house wren values pieces of sloughed snake skins. The honey guide of
Australia ,plucks hair from the back of horses. Some birds grow special
soft feathers on their chest, which they pluck off to line their nests.
This has the double advantage of permitting their bare chests, which
will be above the eggs, to keep those eggs warmer.
Hummingbirds use spider's silk. They build their nests while hovering
over them, since the nest is too delicate for them to alight on till it
The swifts have a special problem. Although very fast fliers, their feet
are poor and they rarely land on a branch-or anything else other than
their nest. How then can they build their nests? How would you do it if
you had to remain in the air all the time?
First, the swift collects twigs by flying at a branch and breaking off a
piece in flight. Then it flies to a wall and attaches it, using saliva.
The swift has been given amazingly sticky saliva! Outside the body, it
acts like a fast-drying glue. More sticks are brought, and soon the nest
is made. That is how the Asian chimney swift does it. The American palm
swift uses-not twigs-but cotton, plant fibers, hair, and feathers. The
African palm swift only uses saliva throughout the operation.
These are called "palm swifts," because they attach their nests to the
underside of palm leaves. But what keeps the egg from falling out of the
palm leaf when the wind blows? No problem; the bird glues the egg into
The cave swiftlets of Southeast Asia also build with saliva-but they
make much larger saliva nests. These nests are deep within dark caves,
and may be attached to horizontal ledges, the vertical sides of the
caves-or even to the overhead roof!
How can a bird make a nest out of saliva? How would he know how to form
it in the right shape as he prepares it? "Easy," you say. Well, try
dripping saliva onto a dinner plate-and make a bird nest out of it! Here
is how the bird does it:
First he flies to the side of a cliff and repeatedly dabs saliva onto
the wall in a half-moon shape of what the wall-side part of the nest
will look like. Then he dabs more and more, and slowly builds it larger
and larger. Gradually, he moves the sides inward-and produces a
perfectly formed nest with a cup-like top! One nest takes several days
to make; and when completed, it has the inside of the cup just the right
size to hold two eggs. And that is exactly how many the swiftlet always
puts into the nest.
Stinkhorn fungus Of tropical Brazil is one of the fastest -growing
organisms in the world. When the fungus is ready to begin growing,
chemical changes in its cells permit them to absorb water rapidly.
It pushes out of the ground at the rate of an inch every 5 minutes, and
grows to full size in 20 minutes. This growth is so fast that a
crackling sound can be heard as the water swells and stretches its
As soon as full size is achieved, it begins decomposing at the top.
Flies are attracted and, crawling over the surface, collect spores on
their feet which they carry elsewhere.
MITES IN THE EAR
is as Small as a mite? These creatures are so tiny that one of the
places they live is inside the ear of the moth. Entire colonies of mites
will live inside a moth's ear. Separate parts of the ear are used for
egg laying, stacking their refuse, and feeding.
But there is a problem: These little creatures so fill the moth's ear
that he can no longer hear properly with it. But he needs his ears, and
with mites in both of them, he wanders around erratically, and would be
caught by bats.
The solution is simple enough: The mites only live in one ear! In this
way the moth can hear well enough to go about his business-with less
chance of being eaten. Thus the mites keep themselves from being eaten
But, who told the mites to do that? Surety no mite could be smart enough
to figure that out. The brain of a mite would be smaller than the
smallest speck you have ever seen.
MADE FOR EACH OTHER-
is an intriguing fact-and one evolutionists would prefer to ignore-that
living things are often designed with one another in mind. Without the
one, the other cannot survive. How then could they originate in the
first place, if they had to begin together? What outside Power did the
designing? The plants and animals themselves surely did not confer
together before they existed and figure it out.
Stanley Temple, an American biologist working in the Indian Ocean island
of Mauritius, noticed in 1970 that the seeds of the Calvaria major tree,
although fertile, had not germinated for 300 years (the age of the
youngest specimens still growing). Noting that the large, wingless bird,
the dodo, became extinct about that time, Temple brought in some
turkeys-in the hope that they could do what the Dodo probably had done:
swallow the seeds, thereby removing their hard outer coat and enabling
them to germinate.
He fed some of the seeds to domestic turkeys, collected the seeds when
they had passed through the birds' digestive system, and planted them.
For the first time in three centuries, Calvaria major germinated,
producing healthy new plants.
DUET BIRD SINGERS-Did
you know that some birds prefer to sing together? The bou-bou shrike
lives throughout tropical Africa in thick forests, where they can only
see a few feet at the most. A pair may not be far apart, but they cannot
see one another.
The song of this bird is exquisite. It is clear, flute-like, with a long
melodic pattern. Yet, the truth is that it is two birds singing, not
one. One bird starts the song and then, it will suddenly pause and the
other will add a note or phrase, and then the first bird will instantly
take up the song again. Back and forth it will go-and yet it sounds as
if only one bird is singing! There is not the slightest hesitation or
pause anywhere in the song.
The two birds are a mated pair. Scientists tried to study this in detail
with tape recorders and sonograms to analyze the sounds-and then made
the discovery that there are many other duet-singing birds in the wild.
In a square mile of South American rain forest there may be as many as a
dozen different species of birds singing duets. This is how they keep
track of the location of each other in those dense jungles.
Yet it is obvious that the birds did not devise this. The intellectual
requirements for such a procedure are too great. It would be with the
greatest of difficulty that you and I could sing such a duet together,
even if we were the best singers in the world. The cue and mental
requirements for such instant stopping and switching over from one bird
to the other, at random points here and there in
the song are astounding. It
has been discovered that each bird in the pair knows the complete,
complicated song and, if solitary, can sing it alone. But that cannot
explain how they can know to instantly stop‑so the other can sing part
of it-and then return to the other.
In the darkness of night in the forests of Europe, the tawny owl also
sings in duet. Its famous towhit
call has been heard by millions of Europeans. Yet few realize that it
is two birds uttering the call! One owl sings the
and then, the other owl instantly gives the
It all sounds as if it is coming from one bird, but the call is being
made, alternately, by a pair of owls.
of the energy used to light a light bulb is wasted, since it is changed
to heat. It takes energy to produce light, scientists cannot fathom how
lights in nature operate so efficiently. The man who ever solves this
problem will be a millionaire overnight, but, so far, no one has been
able to do so‑even though fireflies and other creatures do it all the
For example, the tropical firefly, Photinus, makes light with 90 percent
of the energy used for that purpose. By contrast, only 5.5 percent of
the energy used to power an incandescent bulb emerges as light; the rest
is wasted as heat. The glow of a firefly contains only 1/80,000 of the
heat that would be produced by a candle flame of equal brilliance.
If an ignorant speck-brained firefly can do that, why cannot man do it?
If a thinking man cannot do it, then what reason do we have to think
that an "accident" did it for the firefly? The firefly is enabled to do
it because of the advance planning of an Intelligence far greater than
that of mankind.
WATER ON FIRE
the clear waters of the San Blas Islands, located in the Gulf of Mexico
near Panama, you will find that the ocean sometimes sparkles with fire.
What you see are tiny fire‑fleas. Each is a small crustacean about the
size of a land flea, but with shrimp‑like bodies. The sudden spurt of
light in the dark water so startles a predatory fish that, even if it
has already snapped up the fire‑flea, it may swiftly disgorge it in
fright. These little creatures also use their light to locate and
attract one another, much as fireflies on land do.
One type of firefly makes equally‑spaced spots of light as it swims.
Another only flashes as it swims vertically to the surface, ever
flashing faster as it nears the water line. Yet another flashes
synchronistically as the males, several feet apart, move through the
water flashing together in precise unison.
FISH THAT FLIES-Everyone
has heard of the flying fish, but it is still a very unusual creature.
Flying fish do not actually fly; they glide. First, they leap into the
air at speeds up to 20 m.p.h. Then, using their wide pectoral fins as
wings, they begin their glide. Because they usually remain close to the
water's surface, they flick their tails occasionally to produce extra
thrust and keep them going longer.
Flying fish have been known to soar as high as 20 feet and travel as far
as 1,300 feet in one glide through the air.
is more noise in the ocean than merely the lap of waves. You can dive
down into the sea and not hear these sounds. This is because the small
plug of air in your outer ear blocks them out. But, upon lowering a
hydrophone (an underwater microphone) into the ocean, you discover that
the ocean is full of sound.
Triggerfish grate their teeth together, sea horses rub their heads
against their back spines, and pistol shrimps dislocate their claws when
enemies draw near-and the resulting noise sounds like gunshots. When a
conger eel prepares to attack a spiny lobster, the lobster rubs its stony
antennae along a toothed spike that is on its head between its eyes. A
rasping noise is made, and all the spiny lobsters in the area quickly
jump into their holes.
(also called dolphins) seem to talk more than anyone else living in the
ocean. Which is quite a thought.
Scientists have studied them in aquaria and in special shallow-water
locations off the coast of the Bahamas. Porpoises have a vocabulary of
about 30 different vocalizations, but they can also change the
significance of each by the body position at the time the sound is made.
A certain sound made while nodding the head will have a different
meaning than when not nodding it.
Each porpoise has a "signature whistle," which' is his unique call
identifying himself. Another porpoise only uses that call to catch the
attention of the owner of that special whistle.
All of these sounds are totally different than the sounds they make when
they send out sonar (underwater radar). That system is discussed in
chapter 32 and is used to locate distant objects.
A third way in which porpoises communicate is by ultrasonic sounds which
people cannot hear, but which certain electronic equipment can receive
and record. A fourth way is by touching (nudging, stroking, and
smacking) one another.
porpoises click and make high-pitched
sounds. But the whales sing. Would you like to hear a whale sing?
Recordings of these sounds can be purchased from wildlife organizations.
The humpback whale is the greatest singer of them all. Its songs consist
of vast roars and groans, interspersed with sighs, chirps, and squawks.
That description may not sound very exciting, but their songs are
interesting to listen to. And they go on for quite some time. Each song
can last 10 minutes or so. Once completed, the whale will repeat it
again-and again-for hours. Each year the songs change somewhat, as the
whales experiment with changes in the tunes. We have learned a lot about
these songs, but no one yet knows why these whales sing.
BLASTS FROM THE BLUE WHALE-The
largest creature in the world is the blue whale. Some have been measured
at 100 feet in length. It has the largest lungs and vocal cords in the
world and makes the most noise. Blasts of 188 decibels have been
reported. This would be equivalent to the, Saturn five rockets which
launch the space shuttle. But these sounds are extremely low in range.
Scientists believe that the calls of blue whales can be heard by other
whales a thousand miles away.
creatures grow up, but there is a frog which does the opposite. The
paradoxical frog (pseudis paraobxa) becomes smaller as it "grows up."
Living in the South American tropics, the tadpoles grow to as much as 10
inches in length. But, when this particular tadpole turns into a frog,
it shrinks drastically.
During this process-as do other frogs-the tail is absorbed into the
body. But when the change is completed, the paradoxical frog is only 3
inches in length.
Why should this frog be so different than the others? Evolution could
have no answer. The difference is one of design, and only design. Any
student of DNA well-knows that hundreds of interrelated genes, located
in different chromosomes, would be involved. Chance could not change
them, without producing a monster which would be dead at birth.
species Of birds in South America (caciques and oropendolas, for
example) and weaverbirds in Africa like an especially protected location
in which to build their nests. So they first go searching for the homes
of the dreaded wasp. No one wants to live near them! It will surely be
well-protected from all their enemies,-but what about the wasps?
Once found, these birds build their nests close to the wasps' nests.
Yet, oddly enough, the wasps do not at all mind having these birds
nesting in the trees just above their own nests. But let another bird
even get near, and the ferocious wasps buzz toward them threateningly.
When the nests are constructed, the birds settle down to raise a family.
Then an enemy draws near to raid the nest, and instantly the wasps fly
out and go after him. The wasps have decided to protect not only their
own nests but those of the nearby birds also.
Scientists are still trying to figure out why wasps attack other birds
but protect these certain ones.
JUMPING FROGS IN MANY COUNTRIES-
Mark Twain once wrote about a jumping frog. There are frogs all over the
world, and all of them surely can jump! Pick up a frog and look closely
at it. These little creatures are excellently designed for jumping. Yet
they could never work out the design themselves. It had to be done for
them. The back legs, folded into three sections, provide the leap; the
front legs are the shock absorbers when they land.
The small North American frog, Acris gryllus, can jump up to 6 feet,
which is 36 times its own 2 inch length. Many other frogs can jump
somewhat shorter distances. For a man to do this, the world's champion
human jump would be about 215 feet.
EGG TIMERS- Mallee fowl of Australia lay eggs at random times
throughout the summer since, when each hatches, it is a fully-formed
small adult; well-able to fly off and take care of itself.
But many birds which nest on the ground cannot do this. Their chicks are
born very feeble and must be given much care and a lot of food. It would
be very difficult if the eggs hatched and matured at different times.
For example, the female quail does not begin to incubate her clutch of a
dozen or so eggs until the entire number have been laid-which may
require two weeks. Then she begins setting on the entire lot at the same
Who told the mother quail to do this? Her parents surely didn't. Yet
quail regularly do not set on the eggs until the entire clutch has been
But that is not the end of the matter. The little quail sets on so many
eggs that the ones on the outer part of the nest do not receive as much
warmth. Also she has to regularly turn the eggs, or the membranes within
them may adhere to the shell. So many factors are involved that, as
hatching time draws near, some eggs are not as well-developed as others.
How can this problem be solved, so that all the chicks will come out of
their shells at about the same time? Another miracle; listen to this:
Scientists have discovered that, as hatching time nears, the unborn
chicks begin to signal to one another. If you put a doctor's stethoscope
to an egg at this time, you may hear clicks coming from within. The
neighboring eggs can also hear them. If they have not yet reached the
clicking stage, the sound of neighboring clicks stimulates them to speed
up their development! Researchers played recordings of the clicks to
batches of eggs-and thus induced them to hatch well before others from
the same clutch, which had been kept alone and in silence.
we discuss the amazing structure of birds. Here is more information on
Evolutionary biologists tell us that birds have evolved their bones
until they are now very lightweight. But birds cannot change their bones
any more than you or I can. Also, if birds cannot fly with heavy bones;
how did they survive before they invented lightweight bones for
Those bones are truly unusual: They are so lightweight that a bird's
feathers weigh more than its entire skeleton! That is quite a thought,
considering how lightweight a feather is.
The bones are very nearly hollow, with internal struts and honeycombed
air sacs to provide them with unusual lightweight strength. Modern
airplanes are built in a similar manner, but only after very careful
planning by intelligent men.
During flight, air flows into the sacs in the bones-and then to the
lungs. This enables the bird to have a much larger supply of fresh
oxygen as it flies. Even the beak is modified to save weight, and is
constructed of lightweight horn with no teeth.
A golden eagle is a large bird; yet, although having a wingspan of
nearly 8 feet, it weighs a total of less than 9 pounds.
DEVELOPMENTAL AGES AT BIRTH- Each
animal is born in just the best way. Some creatures, like baby mice,
will have a longer time to grow-since they are born in a cosy, hidden
nest. So they come forth blind, hairless, and unable to walk.
But other creatures are born into a harsh environment, and must be able
to travel as soon as they arrive in this world. The guinea pig and
agouti has no nest, but lives on the surface of the ground. So their
babies are fully formed, fully haired, and can run as soon as they are
Calves of the wildebeest, in east Africa, are born while the herd is
migrating, and can stand up and trot after their mother within five
minutes of dropping to the ground.
Creator can make things in miniature. The smallest mammals are the
3-inch Etruscan shrew, which only weighs about 0.09 ounce, and the
6-inch Craseonycteris thonglongyai
bat, which weighs even less: about 0.06 ounce. How can all the
dozens of specialized organs, found in every mammal, be included in
these tiny creatures? It is, indeed, a great marvel of wisdom and
ITS NOSE- Females live together in groups and cooperate in caring
for the baby elephants, while the males spend their time alone,
wandering about. The little elephants are cared for by all the adults in
the group. If anything happened to the mother, the others would raise
her little one. In the care of so many protective adults, the youngsters
happily romp about and play.
Researchers who watch elephant herds, have found that when an elephant
is only a month or two old, it begins shaking its trunk, wondering what
this strange thing is. It will shake its head and notice how the curious
object flaps back and forth. Sometimes the baby trips over it. When the
baby goes down to the watering hole, it awkwardly kneels down and tries
to sip with its mouth. At about the age of 4-5 months, it discovers that
water can be sniffed up into its trunk, and then can be blown out into
its mouth. That discovery not only enables it to get a drink faster but
can lead to more fun: Baby finds it can blow water on the other
Why is the learning process so slow for an elephant, when some other
creatures are immediately prepared at birth for life's crises? This is
no failure in design. The baby elephant has many protectors and a long
childhood before it will becomes an adult. There is an abundance of time
for it to learn as it grows, so this factor was wisely provided for in
the design blueprint.
PROLIFIC BUNNY RABBITS-Female
rabbits can breed when 4 months old, and every 30 days produce up to
nine babies. During the spring and summer, one can bear six litters. In
three years time, if there were no losses, one pair of rabbits could
produce 33 million! Many young children would probably be happy if that
happened. There would be enough bunnies for all of them!
BIGGEST CONVENTION OF THEM ALL-The
largest gathering of mammals, held anywhere in the world, convenes every
summer on the Pribilofs, an island group in the Bering Sea off Alaska.
Each year 1.5 million Alaskan fur seals assemble, and produce
But it was a planned gathering. Seals on land are relatively
defenseless, so they gather together in order to have better protection
from their enemies.
WHEN ENEMIES CALL A TRUCE- The
Rufous woodpecker of India and southeast Asia likes to eat ants. Those
stinging tree ants, in turn, occupy themselves with vigorously attacking
every intruder that comes near their nest.
But, surprisingly enough, when it comes time for the rufous woodpecker
to build a nest, it temporarily makes peace with the ants.
The awesome fact is that this woodpecker flies to the football-size nest
of stinging tree ants, tunnels in, lays its eggs there, and then settles
down and incubates them-all the while with stinging ants all about it!
The utterly impossible occurs. No one can figure it out, including the
scientists. The thought of a woodpecker setting on its eggs in a nest of
stinging tree ants-has the experts stumped. Or treed, should we say.
When the little birds hatch, the dutiful parent feeds them till they are
able to fly away. Throughout that time, it has not eaten one of the ants
in that nest, nor have they disturbed it during its nesting season
(although they attack anything else that comes near their nest at that
time, as well as at any other time).
And then what do you think the woodpecker does? It flies off-and again
does as it did earlier-eating ants in their ant nests.
is much more information on spiders in chapter 16, but here is more
about spider silk:
Most spiders are such tiny things. Yet every one of them can produce a
variety of different silk. Some of it is thin, some of it thick. Some is
designed for temporary scaffolding, and Mme is stronger than steel of
comparable weight and is heavy‑duty building material. It is the
strongest of all known natural fibers.
How can a little spider make this silk? It is a marvel. Yet each spider
can and does make different kinds of silk! It can automatically turn off
one spigot flow of this strange liquid (which, on contact with air,
instantly changes into an elastic solid) and turn on a different type of
liquid. At any given time, every spider can produce several different
types of silk. The type it produces will be exactly the right kind for
the job it is immediately working on. Watch an orb (circular) spiderweb
in the making. The little spider begins with one type of silk for the
initial construction, and then switches to another for the circular,
This silk is actually a liquid protein that is squeezed from little
nozzles at the rear of the abdomen. It hardens upon meeting the air.
Spiders use silk for all kinds of purposes: egg-sac cases, the lining of
nests, woven tents for their babies, safety lines when they jump,
circular webs, trapdoor wrappings and hinges, non‑circular webs, and
airplane lines which carry them to distant areas-and across oceans.
GUARDING A SHRIMP-Some
people have guard dogs, but there is a shrimp which has a guardfish. The
goby (Cryptocentrus coeruleopunctatus)
is a 6-inch fish which lives in the ocean. It acts as a sentry for a
tiny shrimp, called the snapping shrimp, with which it shares a burrow
on the seabed.
The shrimp makes the burrow, and keeps it clean. The fish, in turn, has
the better eyes of the two and guards the shrimp when they are outside
When the entrance to their burrow becomes clogged with rubble, the
shrimp comes out to clean the entrance and the area around it. It uses
its claws like a mechanical digger. While it is working, the goby is on
guard duty. It is nearby watching for enemies. Yet it remains close
enough that one of its antennae touches the shrimp at all times. The
moment the goby senses any danger, it wriggles its body. Instantly the
shrimp jumps back into the burrow, and the goby immediately follows. Who
told the shrimp and goby to work together like that?
course, we have all heard about the phenomenal homing abilities of
pigeons. Ancient Roman emperors would use them to send messages across
long distances. These birds tend to stay at home, not traveling more
than a few miles from it at a time. Yet, if taken to a distance of
several hundred miles, they will be able to find their way back home-and
do it within a few hours.
Careful experiments have shown that homing pigeons take note of
geographical features below them; and, when leaving their home, they
initially circle overhead to get their bearings, and then head
to feeding locations not far away. So visual observation is a factor.
But birds carried hundreds of miles away cannot see the ground from the
air, and will soon travel over terrain they have never before seen. So
how do they find their way home?
Birds were fitted with glasses which prevented them from seeing the
ground, and yet they found their way home anyway. Obviously, sighting
the land below them was not the key. There is good evidence that the
birds check the angle of the sun as they fly. Yet, on overcast days,
they still find their way home.
Then researchers took birds to a distant location on overcast days, tied
tiny magnets to their heads, and turned them loose. They could not find
their way home. So the answer is a combination of all three: visual
observations of the ground, the angle of the sun, and mental readings of
the location of the magnetic north pole. But, of the three, the magnetic
readings are the most important for distance flying. This is a feature
which does not change.
The small magnets on their heads were strong enough to keep them from
sensing earth's magnetic pole. But how are they able to sense earth's
magnetism? This is not known, but it has been discovered that birds are
born with a tiny piece of magnetic rock in their heads! This is a little
magnet in their brains. Where did that particle of rock come from? How
did it get inside their heads?