Evolution Encyclopedia Vol. 2 

Chapter 16


Designs in Nature

 If is easier to show by science that evolution is impossible, than to show how if could have happened. Consider for a few minutes the following facts about invertebrates (animals without backbones). How could any of this have bean caused by the occasional and random effects of harmful mutations, which is the only tangible method offered by evolutionists to produce everything in the world around us:

HERMIT CRAB --This is a small crab which lives in the shallower parts of the ocean. It spends its first year in the ocean as a gill breather. For its second year, it lives on trees and occasionally gets into the water to get its gills wet, although it can breath out of water.

Thereafter, it spends its full time in the ocean, often in rock pools near the ocean's edge. The hermit crab has no shell as do other crabs. Instead, it has to go out and find one. When it finds an empty snail or conch shell, it crawls inside to check it out for size. If it is okay, then it walks around, lugging the borrowed shell on its back. When enemies lurk near, it crawls back into its protective shell. Since its right claw is the largest, it will tuck that in front of it as a protective doorway across the shell's entrance. The left claw is smaller and used to tear up food, which is small plants and animals.

As it grows, it continues to be on the lookout for larger-sized shells. When it changes shells, it moves rapidly! If the size is wrong, it darts back quickly into the safety of its first shell.

The tentacles of the sea anemone are poisonous and sting those that touch it. But the little hermit crab and the sea anemone always know they are good friends. The crab crawls over to a small anemone and pushes on him. Instead of stinging the crab to death, the anemone carefully places its bottom suction cup onto the crab, and off they go, with the crab carrying the anemone around on his shell!

This arrangement helps both of them. It provides even better protection for the hermit crab, and additional food for the anemone. When the anemone catches a fish with his stingers, both share the food. The crab reaches his pincer out and takes part of the catch. When the crab catches a fish, he shares part of it with the anemone. Sometimes the crab will carry two anemones around on his shell!

When he switches shells and finds the new one is better, he nudges the anemone, which knows to crawl off the first shell and onto the second one.

FLYING SPIDERS Spiders go higher in the sky than any other living creature on our planet. This is part of their way of taking long-distance journeys to new lands.

The mother spider carries her babies in a brown bag. Inside are about 200 baby spiders, each one the size of a dot. Inside the bag they have lots of food in the remainder of the egg. After they are a day old, out they will come from the bag and immediately all will leave in different directions. If they did not do this, they might begin eating each other up.

(One exception to this is a certain spider which carries her newborn babies on her back for a time before they leave home. They are all crowded together, not in a bag, and do not disturb one another.)

Now, how does the tiny baby spider go about leaving home? That is simple enough, he just crawls up to a high point. It may be a grass stem or the side of a tree trunk, or a leaf on a plant. Then he upends and off he goes!

Even though only a day old, his little silk factory is in full operational order. Instead of a tail, the spider has a spinneret. Lifting this up in the air, he begins spinning his fine thread which catches in the wind. The wind carries away the thread as the baby keeps reeling it out. Soon enough thread is in the air (about 9 feet [27 dm] of it), and the baby is lifted off its feet and goes sailing!

This thread is actually a liquid that immediately hardens when the air touches it. For its size, the thread is as strong as steel; in fact it is stronger, for it can stretch without breaking.

Where did he learn all this; he was only born that day! But he knows still more: The tiny spider quickly commandeers his craft and begins steering it! As soon as he becomes airborne, he climbs up on the silk line and walks on that fluttering thing as it is flying high! How he can do this and not fall off is a mystery (how he can even hang on is a wonder). But he quickly becomes master of the airship. Arriving about half-out along the line, he pulls on it, tugs it here and there, and reels it underneath him. In this way, the line now becomes a rudder which he uses to steer up or down! Where did a one-day old, with a brain one-thousandth as large as a pin-head, get such excellent flying instruction?

Soon he lands on something, but generally he will only stop long enough to prepare for another flight, and off he goes again.

Scientists in airplanes have found baby spiders 16,000 feet [4,876 m] up in the air! That is 3 miles [4.8 km] high! Eventually the tiny creature will land. It may be several miles down the road, in a neighboring state, or on an island far out at sea. (Spiders are the first creature to inhabit new volcanic islands.)

FRIGHTENING CREATURES Here is how some harmless creatures protect themselves: When a mynah bird zeros in on a singhalese grasshopper, the grasshopper will show the large eyes on its back, and the bird will fly away in fear.

The British lobster moth caterpillar rises up and appears vicious when attacked. When this does not seem to succeed, it will appear to open wounds on its body, giving the impression it has already been parasitized.

The Malayan hooded locustid will actually open a slit on its body, exposing part of its entrails to indicate it has already been wounded and would make a poor food item.

MORE UNINVITING SIGHTS Whenthreatened with danger, a spider in Java lies on its back on the leaves and looks like a bird dropping.

Clearwing moths looks like armed wasps, and so are able to fly during the day as they do, even though other moths only come out in the safety of the night.

STILL MORE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS One moment you see the leaf butterfly, Kallima, fluttering through the air with its bright colors; the next moment it lands on a leaf for safety and disappears! Upon landing, it folds its bright wings over its back; the undersides of which are the color of the leaf.

The hawk mouth moth looks like bark only if it rests on the sides of trees with its head up; the geometrid tissue moth uses the same hiding trick‑but must be turned sideways to give the same effect.

Flata plant bugs will gather together on plant stems and appear to look like flowers. How can they do that? Since some of them are pink and some green, the pink ones gather in the center, and green ones encircle them. The result is pink petals amid small green leaves.

When certain spiders go hunting for ants, they imitate them as they approach. Ants have six legs and spiders have eight, so these spiders will put their front two legs in the air as if they are antennae.

STARFISH Some starfish have five legs, white others may have 6, 7, 15, or as many as 50 (the sunray starfish). They have tiny spines on their Each foot has suction cups on which they slowly walk at a fast clip of 3 inches [7.62 cm] a minute or 15 feet (457 cm] an hour. They get water and oxygen through their feet, which have small tubes leading to their body. On each foot is a light- sensitive organ with which it sees.

Starfish are self-regenerating. Fishermen do not like them because they eat oysters, so when they used to catch them in their nets, they would tear them apart and throw them back in the ocean or bay where they were caught. What they did not know till scientists told them was that each leg will grow a complete starfish in a short time! The Lincklia starfish can grow a whole new starfish from a piece that is only 1/2 inch [1.27 cm] long.

DIVING SPIDER The diving spider is also called the water spider. This little creature spends most of his time underwater, yet it breathes air and looks just like a regular spider. Here is a brief look at its remarkable life:

The spider hits the surface of the water and makes a tiny splash, then grabs the bubble produced by the splash, hugs it to its chest against its breathing tubes,--and down it goes into the water! This one bubble will provide it with air for quite some time. The spider will sense when the bubble is becoming stale, and, returning to the surface, it will with a splash get another one.

Underneath the water, the spider can hide from enemies and obtain nourishing food. Finding a small clump of vegetation, the spider will carry down bubbles and store them there. In this way it can stay underwater even longer. Always carrying the first bubble pressed close to its chest, it transports additional bubbles for its new home by holding them between its hind legs.

Aside from a few fish (such as the bubble nest builders), this is the only animal in the world that uses air as a building material. But he uses air for more than a nest; it is also his home. Soon his small tent of air is filled enough to give him oxygen for weeks.

When a male spider dives under, he selects a place for his tent close to the tent of a female spider. Then he builds a corridor between the two and fills it with air. Now they have a duplex apartment. But, standing in the corridor, as soon as he breaks through the partition to the female's apartment, a terrible family argument ensues and both tents are damaged. But he always wins because he is larger, and the two thereafter cheerfully work together to repair the tents. Then they settle down to family housekeeping and the raising of their family.

But diving-spider eggs will not hatch underwater; they need sunlight like all spider eggs. So the mother spins a cocoon around them and floats them on the surface for several days till they hatch. Then the babies climb out of the cocoon boat--and, little mites though they are,--they dive into the water and down to the home tent below the surface.

Eventually the children leave home and make their own family tents.

MALE MOSQUITO The male mosquito lives on plant juices and bites neither animals nor man. While the female mosquito's antennae are difficult to see, the male's looks like a pair of branched feathers. How can he fly with such things on his head? Each antenna is placed in a socket next to a pad made of a special protein. This pad is actually an engine powered by water. When flying, the antennae are flattened against his head. When he lands, he raises them so he can hear. To raise the antennae, a small amount of water is pumped from his body into the pad, which increases its size by 25 percent, causing it to unfold and lift the antennae!

 ULTRAVIOLET WEB Spiders use ultra violet light to help catch insects. Unlike humans, most insects can see ultraviolet light. They use this ability in direction‑finding, to locate the sun when it is hidden behind clouds. It also helps them find certain ultra‑violet emitting flowers. The silk spun by spiders, used to make their webs, reflects ultra violet rays from the sun. The garden spider even weaves decorations into its web which increase its ultraviolet reflection capacity. This attracts insects to the web. It is thought that birds, which can also see ultra violet light, are thus warned so they will avoid flying into the webs.

SEA URCHINS Spiny sea urchins do not like people to look closely at them with a flashlight. They have been known to pick up nearby pebbles and hold them up to cast shadows when flashlight beams shine upon them.

  LARGE BLUE The large blue (Nomiades arion) is an English butterfly. In June or July the female deposits tiny eggs on the petals of wild thyme flowers. After hatching and eating some of the leaves, the larva becomes a caterpillar. It is at this point that something unusual happens.

For the first two skin-changes (molts), it feeds on flower heads, but then it becomes restless and begins walking away as though it wants something and is not sure what it is. It generally does not have to journey far, for the female tries to lay her eggs on plants close to an ant's nest.

When it meets an ant, the ant immediately recognizes that it has found a special prize, and strokes the side of the caterpillar. Then from the tenth segment of the caterpillar exudes a sweet kind of honey-dew for the ant.

More ants are called in, and additional milking occurs. The ants are thrilled with the feast, but the caterpillar realizes it is time for action: Swelling up its thoracic segment, the creature rears up on its hind legs seemingly trying to reach up into the air. At this signal the first ant that found it (always that first ant, we are told), will gently seize and lift the caterpillar while other ants try to help.

Carrying off the caterpillar, the ant heads to its underground nest. The caterpillar is then placed in one of the underground chambers where the young ant grubs are being nurtured.

Now the caterpillar has a new home. It eats a few of the white ant grubs, while giving its honeydew nectar to the ants which they regularly harvest by touching that tenth segment. Scientists have tried to harvest the nectar also, but they have not been able to do it, no matter how they may touch that tenth segment. Only to the touch of an ant's antenna or feet does the pore yield its nectar.

This pattern of life continues all summer and after hibernating during the winter during the next spring also. then the caterpillar makes a chrysalis. After 3 weeks it emerges as a butterfly. Ants always like to eat butterflies, but they do not touch this one. Why not? It yields no honeydew nectar, yet they do not injure it as they would another butterfly.

The butterfly slowly crawls out through the tunnels to the open air as the ants stand aside to let it proceed. Once outside, it wings its way from flower to flower, and the yearly cycle begins again.

EUGLENA There are one-celled creatures which have properties of both plants and animals. For example, there is the flagellate, Euglena, which, like an animal, can travel around quite rapidly through the water by means of undulating, snakelike appendages. But, like a plant, contains chlorophyll.

GREAT CAPRICORN BEETLE The larva of this beetle spends the greater part of 3 years inside an oak tree. When fully grown it is 2 1/2 inches [6.35 cm] long and 5/8 inch (1.59 cm] wide. Blind, weak, almost naked, and completely defenseless, the little worm burrows here and there in the oak. Year after year passes, yet that little fellow always knows never to go near the outer part where woodpeckers could get it. But it has no special sense organs to tell it anything. Led by chance alone, it would be sure to chew its way close to and probably through the outer wood, but this never happens. It always carefully avoids the woodpecker zone.

Then the time comes for the larva to metamorphose, and now for the first time it crawls to but a short distance from the outer surface of the oak. Why does it do this, for a woodpecker might now get it?

The blind, mindless worm is soon to change into a beetle, and that beetle will not be able to eat its way through hard wood as the worm can. So the worm comes close to the surface, digs a hole to the surface, makes a chalky doorway, turns around goes inward a fraction of an inch, and then turns around again and faces outward toward the bark, and undergoes the final change.

It turns around and faces outward, but why does it do that? As a soft worm, it can easily change directions in its tunnels, but the beetle will not be able to do so. If it faced inward, the beetle would die. But the worm never makes a mistake. It always faces outward before changing into a beetle.

When the beetle emerges, it simply crawls straight out,. tears out the chalky doorway, and emerges from the oak.  



LOCUSTS There are locusts that have an adult life span of only a few weeks or so, after having lived in the ground as grubs for 15 years.

Once a locust takes off, it flies for long distances. But it does so because the hairs on its head keep it going. As it flies, that bundle of hairs is stimulated by air currents coming from in front, and this excites the locust and it keeps flying. A nerve stimulus is sent from the hairs to its wing muscles, telling them to keep going.

 OCTOPUS The octopus walks around on the bottom of the ocean, but can also shoot through the water by jet propulsion when danger threatens. Each of the eight arms of the largest of these creatures is 16 feet [49 dm] in length!

The female lays 16,000 eggs in clusters of 4,000. To say it another way, she produces 4 strands of eggs, with 4,000 eggs on each strand. Then she hangs them up in a rocky cave and forces water through a jet upon them. This provides them with oxygen.

Carefully she cleans them with her suction cups. There are two rows of suction cups on each arm, so sensitive she can tell what a cup is touching without seeing it. The delicate nerves in each cup, enable her to feel algae and fungus and remove it from each egg. If that were not done, carbon dioxide could not leave the eggs and they would die.

She takes care of her eggs for 2 months and eats nothing during that time. Then they hatch and leave home, crawling or jetting away.

AFRICAN TERMITE The Trlnervltermes is an African termite which builds mounds on the savanna which are only about 12 inches [30.48 cm] high. But when curious researchers looked inside these termite homes, they were astonished to find that the termites bore shafts into the ground for water,and that some of these shafts go down more than 130 feet [396 dm] into the earth!

DESERT BEETLES Flightless beetles (Onymacris plans) from the Manib Desert in southwest Africa regulate their body temperature in two ways; one is by regular body heat control factors, the other is by the elyfra, which is a covering on its back.

Consider the high-tech way the elytra does its work: This elytra, or outer sun shield, absorbs 95 percent of the visible and ultraviolet radiation. But it only absorbs 20 percent of the long-wave infrared rays.

After a cold night on the desert, the morning sunlight is mainly infrared, and this gets through the shield to heat the beetle. But later, in the middle and latter part of the day when the desert becomes hot, the heat mainly comes from visible and ultraviolet radation, and this is largely shut out by the beetle's elytra.

In this way the beetle keeps warmer in the morning when it is cool, and cooler in the afternoon when it is hot.

Evolutionists say that "warm-blooded animals" (birds and mammals which evenly regulate their body temperature inside) are "more advanced" than the "cold-blooded animals" (reptiles, amphibians, insects, etc.). But is that really so? On a hot summer day we humans would do well to have an elytra over our heads.

ANT CATTLE Many ants have their own cattle: caterpillars, aphids, or tree bugs. They stroke these creatures, which then exude drops of tasty fluid.

These "dairy cattle" are guarded by the ants, who may herd them into special enclosures they have built for this purpose. Hingston has described how one ant species was observed building sheds for the enclosure of their cattle. When some fencing was damaged, and the cattle began escaping, four ants went after them, turned them around and got them back into the damaged shed. Then, while some guarded the opening, others repaired it.

Other ants herd caterpillars into special reserves where they care for and milk them, and then drive them out to pasture every day so the "cattle" can feed on plants.

CORAL CRAB Among the corals of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia there are tiny crabs which live amid a certain type of finely-branched coral.

At an early age, a young female crab will settle in a position between several branchlets. The coral senses that the crab is there and henceforth will grow more widely in that spotthus providing a home for the growing crab. Up and around the crab the branches extend, and move inward and enclose her overhead. The crab is now happily imprisoned for the rest of her life. Food floats in and she lays her eggs and raises her young there. Enemies cannot enter to devour her. The male crab is extremely small and so can easily enter and leave the female's home.

Scientists cannot figure out why the branches always make room for the crab inside, and why they always come together overhead and enclose her. Elsewhere the coral is closer together and does not necessarily come together above open cavities.

AMAZON ANTS Ants which live in the flood regions of the Amazon basin are careful never to build their nests on the ground, but always in the trees. If they did not do this, flooding would destroy them.

SACCULINA The Sacculina is a typical crustacean larva which swims in the ocean until it finds a crab. Then it attaches itself to part of the body.

Boring a small hole through a cuticle at the base of one of the crab's hairs, the contents of the larva empty out! A shapeless mass of cells pours down through that hole and into the crab, there to circulate around through its blood vessels. Gradually each cell finds its way to the underside of the crab's intestine. Why does the crustacean suddenly change into separated fluid and enter the crab? How do all the cells know their destination?

In this new location, the cells reunite, attach themselves, and send out roots into the crab's intestine and live on juices from it.

Eventually the tiny organism inside takes another journey. This time it travels backwards up the intestine to the underside of the abdomen. When the crab molts the next time, part of the organism is henceforth on the outside of the crab and part inside. Here it spends the rest of its life, eventually sending larva out into the ocean which swim around as regular crustaceans and begin the cycle all over.

HONEY-STORING ANT In the Australian desert is a species of ant which will, at random, select certain of its ants and use them as honey pots.

Cells are built for them deep underground and there they live as the reservoirs of the ant hive. Each ant is pumped full of honey to the point that he is an almost transparent golden color. The worker ants collect nectar from flowers during the short periods when they flower during rainy seasons, take it home and store it in their honey ants. Each storage ant holds as much fluid as you would find in a grape!

When dry weather comes, the ants go to the honey ants and obtain their food. They would die without this storage facility.

UNUSUAL ABILITIES A flea can jump 130 times its own height; this requires overcoming a force of 200 g's. Man can only withstand about 82 g's. If a horse could leap as far, in proportion to its weight, as a flea it could leap over the Andes Mountains in one jump.

Some butterflies can smell a mate several miles away. The male silkworm moth can smell the scent of a female seven miles, yet she is emitting not more than 0.0001 mg [.0000154 gr] of chemical odor.

The trilobite is abundant in the very lowest fossil levels, but its eye is said to have "possessed the most sophisticated eye lenses ever produced by nature," and required "knowledge of Fermat's principle, Abbe's sine law, Snell's law of refraction and the optics of birefringent crystal," according to Levi Setti. "The lenses look like they were designed by a physicist," he concludes. (See the chapter on Natural Selection for much more information on the eyes of trilobite and other creatures.)

The honey bee flies 13,000 miles in order to make one pound of honey.

Cicadas live for 13 to 17 years (all the while sucking juices from tree roots), ticks live 18 years, and nematodes up to 39 years.

In relation to their size, insects have greater strength than do the larger animals. Ants are able to carry fifty times their own weight! A beetle can move a hundred times its own weight!

A snail can pull 60 to 200 times its own weight and lift 10 times its weight! To do as well, a man would have to pull 4 to 13 tons [3,629‑11,793 kg] and lift 1,500 pounds [680 kg].

CRAYFISH AND LOBSTER The crayfish and lobster are remarkably designed. There are two long pincer feet in front of the body, with large pincers on the ends. But they hinder these creatures from moving rapidly when enemies draw near. So, instead, quick, backward movements are made by rapid downward strokes of the abdomen. This drags the entire animal and its pincer feet backwards.

Because crayfish and lobsters live their life moving backwards, they have an unusual internal plumbing system. The kidney is located in front of the mouth, so the gill circulation can carry the wastes away from the body. If the kidney outlet was near the back end as in most animals, the wastes would be carried to the gills. This perfect design enables the crayfish and lobsters to live efficiently, whether slowly crawling forward or rapidly swimming backward.

THINKING BACTERIA Bacteria can think. Experiments conducted in 1883 by Wilhelm Pfeffer revealed that bacteria will swim away from poisons like mop disinfectant, and toward good food such as chicken soup. When swimming through a partial disinfectant/soup mix, they swim faster. Upon arriving at the good food, they stop swimming and beginning feasting.

  INSECTS The body of an insect is hollow and filled with air sacs similar to those found in birds. This makes each little creature even lighter in weight for flying and jumping. Air tubes extend throughout the body and into the wings, where they form the veins. A hollow tube is the strongest construction possible for a given weight. These tubes in the wings both stiffen the wing and carry air to wing tissues.

Insects have a more rapid nerve and muscular response than do larger creatures. A housefly beats its wings 600 times a second. A dragonfly easily flies 60 miles an hour, but can also stop instantly and go backward or sideways, without changing the position of its body.

A termite queen will lay more than two million eggs in a month's time.

SPIDERS The "orb weaving" spiders build the large circular web with which we are so familiar. Some ground spiders form a flat web, and  then a tubular tunnel at one end--or in the middle--in which they live. Others build a silk-lined tunnel in the ground for their home. Still other spiders carry their babies around in a silken case, until they are hatched. The garden spider places its eggs in a silk cocoon and suspends them in the orb web. Strands of spider web are astoundingly strong and well-made.

A tiny strand of spider silk is used in some large telescopes to enable the astronomer to measure the vast distances of the heavens above him.

  OYSTER An oyster is a soft body covered by a shell. It is a bivalve, which means it has two half shells (2 "valves") which hinge together. The bottom valve is bigger because the body of the oyster is in it. The shells are held together by a strong abductor muscle.

Consider all the complicated things in an oyster: Between the body and the shell is a special skin called the mantle that produces fluid which hardens into shell. As the soft body grows, the brain sends a message to the mantle to squirt some more fluid. This continues on throughout its 6-20 year lifespan.

The oyster hears by vibrations through the mantle. When it wants to hear especially well, it pushes part of the mantle out into the water. Doing this, it not only hears better, but can also detect light and dark.

On the edge of the mantle there are 2 rows of tiny feelers. These detect light and chemical changes in the water. When certain changes in light or chemical odors occur, the mantle signals the brain: Shut the door quick!

The oyster breaths with its gills and also takes in food the same way, straining it out of the water. Each gill is covered with microscopic hairs which wave back and forth, bringing in water and tiny bits of food. Sticky hairs catch the food, place digestive fluid on it, then pass it over to a little rod which turns round and round. Movement of the gill hairs turns the rod, and it winds the food onto itself. The ball is sent to the mouth and swallowed. Special cells pass through the stomach wall, grab the food, pass back through the stomach walls and take it to all parts of the body.  

BOMBARDIER BEETLE  The amazing bombardier beetle (Brachinus) was reported in detail in 1961 by Schildknecht in Germany.

Its defense system is extraordinarily intricate, and is something of a cross between tear gas and a Tommy-gun. When the beetle senses danger, it internally mixes enzymes contained in one body chamber with concentrated solutions of some otherwise rather harmless compounds (hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinons) stored in a second chamber. Harmless, that is, when they are not placed together. Yet here they are, stored together, in the same chamber inside the beetle! Chemists cannot figure out how it is done.

The stored liquid was found to contain 10 percent hydroquinones and 25 percent hydrogen peroxide (used in rockets). Such a mixture, Schildknecht reported, will explode spontaneously in a test tube. Why not in the beetle? Apparently the mixture contains an inhibitor which blocks the reaction until some of the liquid is squirted into the combustion chambers, at which time enzymes are added to catalyze the reaction.

The vestibule walls secret these enzymes that produce the explosion: peroxidase causes the hydrogen peroxide to decompose into water and free oxygen; while catalse helps the hydroquinones change into toxic quinones and hydrogen.

At the instant of the explosion, hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water and release energy. The temperature of the discharge rises to the boiling point of water, with enough heat left over to vaporize almost a fifth of the discharge.

An immediate, violent explosion takes place. The resulting products are fired boiling hot at the enemy (at a temperature of 212F (100C). Out goes an extremely hot jet of steam and minute droplets of quinone solution.

A noxious, boiling spray of caustic benzoquinones explode outward. The fluid is pumped out through twin rear nozzles, which can rotate like a B17s gun turret, to hit a hungry ant or frog with a bull's eye accuracy. The insect's gun is emptied by four or five little explosions in quick succession. They blast out under high pressure; space rockets work on the same principle.

How did the beetle know that hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, when properly mixed, would result in a powerful explosion? How did it manage to manufacture those two chemicals? How does it store them without their exploding in the storage chambers? If "evolution" tried out various alternate chemicals before hitting on the right combination, how did it dismantle the corresponding DNA sequence needed to make each alternate set of compounds? How did it then switch over to a different DNA sequence? How did it make those extremely accurate twin firing turrets? A rifle is useless without all its parts. Everything had to be there in working order for it to succeed.

MILLIPEDE'S DEFENSE The millipede, Apheloria corrugata shoots hydrogen cyanide at aggressors! How does it not poison itself?

The chemistry involved here is fantastic. On both sides of each segment of its body, subsurface glands produce a liquid containing a complicated chemical compound, mandelonirrile. When the millipede is attacked by ants or other enemies, it mixes the mandelonitrile with a catalyst, causing it to decompose to form benzaldehyde, a mild irritant, and hydrogen cyanide gas--a deadly poison.

Once shot out, the millipede sits there, happily basking in a cloud of lethal fumes, while his attackers flee in all directions. Yet those fumes do not bother him in the least. No one knows why.  

SUCH INTELLIGENT CREATURES Many insects will lay their eggs only on certain species

Worker bees have a special dance to tell the other workers how much food is available, which direction from the hive, and how far away. The entire dance is observed in the total darkness of the hive yet from it the other bees know exactly how much honey to tank up on to get to the flowers and back, where to go, and how much they will find there.

Ants cultivate species of fungi that are found nowhere in nature apart from the ant colony. The ants prepare compost for the fungus and cause the fungus to produce bud structures which the ants eat.

When bees and birds travel, they know how to orient themselves by the sun. (In addition, according to scientific research, when birds fly at night, they use the stars to guide them.)

The purple emperor caterpillar rests on the midline of the leaf it is eating, then moves off the leaf to the stem where it changes to a pupa. It does this somehow knowing that the leaves and not the stem will drop off the tree in the fall and it should not be on them for that reason.

  FLEA When a flea jumps, it releases more than 51h times as much energy as the most perfect muscle tissue can generate! How can it do this? Small pads of a natural protein rubber called resilin are in its legs. As the flea slowly pushes down on the pads, it is storing energy ‑ which will be released in 1 /7th the time it took to store it, as soon as it makes its next leap.

SEA SLUG The nudibranch or sea slug (Eollobidea) is only about 2 inches (5.08 cm] long and lives in the shallow tidal zone along sea coasts. It feeds primarily on sea anemones, but those anemones are armed with stinging cells which explode at the slightest touch and shoot a dart into intruders. But all this bothers not the sea slug as it chews on them, even though it is one of the most delicate-appearing creatures in the ocean.

The sea slug moves right ahead and eats the anemone, regardless of the darts. It is not bothered by them in the least. Instead of being troubled by the darts, the nudibranch uses them. The little creature has special equipment to store and use those dangerous stinging cells.

Leading from the sea slug's stomach to small pouches in the fluffy spurs on its sides are very narrow channels lined with moving hairs or cilia. These cilia are like small brooms, and they sweep the stinging cells out of the stomach and up the channels into those pouches. Once inside, they are carefully stacked, aimed outward, and stored for future use. Later, when a fish threatens to eat the sea slug, it bites on the pouches ‑ and gets a mouthful of stinging cells which the nudibranch borrowed from the anemone! That is too much for any self-respecting fish, and it immediately leaves.

SPHINX MOTH This is a true moth, yet to watch it fly, one would think he was looking at a hummingbird! It flies, maneuvers, and feeds like a hummingbird. Approaching the deep-throated flowers, it stands upright and motionless and inserts its long tongue into the flower. This tongue, longer than its entire body, has two grooved halves which suck out the nectar. Without a perfectly-formed tongue, the sphinx moth would immediately die. So the tongue had to be perfectly designed from the very beginning, like all its other body parts. The wings of a hummingbird beat 50 times per second, while those of a sphinx moth are almost as fast: 25-50 beats per second.

SPONGE The sponge is a creature which lives in many parts of the world, and is regularly harvested in the Gulf of Mexico. This little fellow has no heart, brain, liver, bones, and hardly anything else.

Some sponges grow to several feet in diameter, yet you can take one, cut it up in pieces, and squeeze it through silk cloth, thus separating every cell from every other cell, and then throw part or all of the mash back into seawater. The cells will all unite back into a sponge! Yet a sponge is not a haphazard arrangement of cells, it is a complicated arrangement of openings, channels, and more besides.

Yes, we said they have no brains; but now consider what they do: Without any brains to guide him, the male sponge knows to the very minute when the tide is coming in. Immediately he releases seed into the water and the tide carries them in. The female sponge may be half a mile away, but she is smart enough (without having any more brains than he has) to know that there are seeds from the male in the water. Immediately recognizing this, she releases thousands of eggs which float upward like a cloud and meet the male sperm. The eggs are fertilized and new baby sponges are eventually produced.

THE LASSO MOLD There are many types of mold in the ground and they are so small that only a microscope can discern them individually. Some of these are predatory molds which capture and feed upon numerous nematode worms which are in the soil.

Some molds have sticky knobs which catch and hold onto the worms until they are eaten. But one, the Arthrobotrys dacfyloides, has a very unusual method. It is the cowboy of the microscopic world.

This miniature mold lassos its prey! The mold is in the shape of a thread, and the nematode is shaped like a worm and is much larger. The slender mold senses the presence of a nematode and immediately grows a small loop on the side of its body. As the worm travels along, its head passes through the loop. Instantly within 1 10th of a second the loop cells swell and the loop clamps shut on the worm and it is captured and eaten by the mold.

MONARCH AND VICEROY There are two butterflies which look quite a bit alike. One is the well (Danaus menippi or Anosia piexippus) and the other is the viceroy (i9asilarchia archippus).

The monarch has a disagreeable taste to birds and so they avoid it. But the viceroy although quite delicious, because it looks so much like the monarch, is also left alone.

Yet there is more to the monarch and viceroy story. Although these two butterflies look almost identical to you or me, they are actually quite different. As with many insects, when fall comes, the viceroy dies as cold weather advances. But the monarch is startlingly different. It migrates hundreds of miles to the south!

  MIGRATION OF THE MONARCH While other butterflies live and die within a small local area, the monarch butterfly migrates in the fall to far distant places.

Monarch butterflies leave the northern states and Canada in the autumn and travel southward. Most of them winter in southern California or Mexico. Some flights exceed 2,000 miles [3,218 km]; one butterfly covered 80 miles [129 km] in one day. Arriving at their destination, they settle on sheltered trees in areas where little winter wind will blow. These trees will be the same trees that monarch butterflies departed from that same spring. But it will not be the same butterflies that return to those same trees!

In the spring the monarch heads north on a 2,000-mile [3,218 km] journey. Since these butterflies seem evenly dispersed in northern regions they inhabit, it is thought that each butterfly may return north to the place it left in the fall. Arriving at its summer home, it searches for milkweed plants to eat and lay its eggs on. Later in the summer it dies. Its young hatch, eat milkweed leaves, go through the various stages of growth and then emerge as monarch butterflies. And what do they do? In the fall they head south to that same place that their parents flew from in the spring!

 "The butterflies that come south in the fall are young individuals which have never before seen the hibernation sites. What enables them to find these is still one of those elusive mysteries of nature." "B.J.D. Meeuse, Story of Pollination (1961), p. 171.

SPIDER LEG PUMPS Our muscles are located on the outside of our bones, so we are able to bend and extend our arms and legs. But a spider has its muscles underneath its outer bony sheath, so it can only bend its leg muscles! In order to straighten them out, the little creature pumps fluid into its leg and this straightens out its leg joint hinges! This action is similar to the hydraulic braking system used on automobiles and trucks to tighten brake shoes. The pumping of fluid causes a mechanical movement at a distance.

  ANEMONE'S EAR It has Only recently been discovered that the sea anemone has a more complex "ear" than any other creature! It has hearing receptors similar to ours, but it is able to change the range of frequency of those receptors! This enables the anemone to hear a range of high and low pitched sounds far beyond that of probably any other living creature.

PARAMECIUM The paramecium is a cigar-shaped microscopic creature which is quite common in pond water. Inside it live numerous green algae. If algae are presented to one without any, it will swallow them and knows to save some alive, which then continue to live inside of it. The algae produce sugar and oxygen through photosynthesis, which the paramecium uses. For their part, they are protected inside the relatively large paramecium.

PISTOL SHRIMP There are over 2,000 different kinds of shrimp. As with all other species, each shrimp reproduces only its own kind.

As with many shrimp, the pistol shrimp is about 2 inches long and an orange color. It makes a sharp shooting sound with its one large claw. This snapping sound stuns small fish, and the shrimp then eats them. One scientist put a pistol shrimp in a glass jar, and the sound waves from the shrimp broke the jar!

  AMAZON ANT The Amazon ant lives a sophisticated lifestyle. It is not able to feed itself and raise its young. So it goes out and catches other ants to help it with such tasks. These other ants willingly remain and help it perform simple duties which it seems unable to do for itself. The two colonies of ants live jumbled together, yet they never interbreed and become one species.

ASSASSIN BUG The female assassin bug has a special way of protecting her eggs. She goes to the camphor plant and rubs the resin of it onto her belly. Then she lays her eggs, and carefully coats each egg with this resin. This coating acts like "mothballs," and keeps ants from eating the eggs!

METAMORPHOSIS No scientist can understand the metamorphosis of a butterfly. It is utterly astounding. A butterfly lays an egg and it hatches into a caterpillar. After feeding for a time, that caterpillar shrinks and attaches itself by its own silk cords to a plant stem. Then it remains there for quite some time. Immense changes gradually take place and the caterpillar becomes a hardened chrysalis.

Within this dry shell, the organs of the caterpillar are dissolved and reduced to pulp! Breathing tubes, muscles and nerves disappear as such; the creature seems to have died. Massive chemical and structural changes occur! Gradually, that pulp is remolded into different, coordinating parts. The creature did not grow, did not mature; it just changedtotally changed! Eventually, out of that chrysalis emerges a beautiful butterfly. Biochemists, biologists, evolutionists all retreat in confusion before the awesome miracle of metamorphosis.  

PERIWINKLES This is a small creature found on the seashore. There are several species of periwinkles, and all are small sea snails of the genus Littorina, and are found in shallow waters along the coasts of Europe and northeastern North America.

One kind of periwinkle is oviparous, that is it lays eggs in which embryos are undeveloped. This is the way that most invertebrates, fishes, many reptiles and all birds produce their young.

Another kind of periwinkle is ovoviparous, that is it has an embryo which, although it develops within the mother, is separated from her by persistent egg membranes. Many reptiles, one or two snails, some roaches, flies and beetles, and parthenogenetic aphids, gall-wasps, thrips, and some other creatures have their young in the same way.

Yet another kind of periwinkle is viviparous, that is it has an embryo which develops within the mother, and is in close contact with her through a special organ called a placenta. Mankind and nearly all mammals are viviparous.

Thus different periwinkles use one of all three methods of giving birth to their young!

Among the frogs, toads, and salamanders, there are species of each which utilize two or three of these methods of reproduction.

HORSESHOE CRABS Horseshoe crabs usually live in shallow waters in the ocean. During a monthly highest high tide, they immediately know it is the monthly highest tide, and swim ashore and mate. The female lays eggs which she quickly buries in small holes on that part of the sandy beach washed by the highest of the high tides. She then returns to the sea.

The incubation period of the egg is exactly four weeks, which means the young horseshoe crabs dig out of the sand at the next monthly high tide, when the waters again wash that section of the beach. They are immediately swept into the sea before predators can devour them. How can the horseshoe crab know when that high tide occurs?

Chapman and Lail of the University of Maryland think they may have a solution, but it only adds to the puzzle of how all this could have originated by chance: Horseshoe crabs have four eyes of two types. Two lateral compound eyes are used to see much as an insect sees. The function of the other eyestwo dorsal simple eyes, were never understood until recently. The monthly highest high tide occurs when the sun, earth, and moon are so aligned as to exert maximum gravitational pull on the water. At that same time the moon reflects the most sunlight to earth, including ultraviolet light. These two scientists performed tests indicating that the dorsal eyes are stimulated by ultra-violet light. Does that answer all the puzzles? Not quite.

BACTERIA Within its chromosomes, a single bacterium has about 3 million base pairs in an exact sequential order. It can double itself in forty minutes so that DNA synthesis is done at the rate of more than 1,000 base pairs per second! How can this "simple" organism be so efficient in operation and yet so complicated in genetic material?

If their divisions continued uninterrupted, the mass of descendents of one bacterium would weigh as much as 2,000 tons [1,814 mt] in only 24 hours.

  EXOCULATA SHRIMP This is no ordinary shrimp! It lives 2 miles down at the bottom of the ocean, in the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Inside this ridge are slow outpourings of gases and lava at superhot temperature. Called "black smokers," these geological formations shoot out black clouds of water which are 660 F. No trace of sunlight ever penetrates this great depth, yet the nearby shrimp have eyes! Trying to figure out why, scientists discovered that that super-heated water actually has a slight glow as it comes out of the ground! It is not much of a glow, so each little shrimp has eyes so large, they are located on its back like top-hood headlights! These eyes enable the shrimp to feed within inches of the hot water without getting burned.

  COMMON MIME The common mime is a butterfly that lives on the island of Sri Lanka, off the coast of India. Consider this interesting life history that required a lot of thoughtful planning to originate. We find here five mimic stages in its life:

1 The golden egg is laid on the tender young shoots of a plant of a similar color.

2 The young larva, until it is half grown, is colored brown and yellow, with smeary-looking cream-colored marks with a wet-looking gloss. Always sitting on the upper leaves feeding, it looks just like a bird dropping.

3 During the second half of its larva stage, it is too big for that ruse, so it changes color to a gaudy black, yellow and red. Creatures that gaudy in Sri Lanka often are dangerous or poisonous.

4 Then the caterpillar changes into a pupa, and now it looks just like a short, snipped-off dead twig. Now it hangs outward from the plant stem. The base of the pupa appears to grow out of the stem it is fastened to, and the upper end looks like a broken‑off twig end.

5 Emerging as an adult butterfly, it next takes one of two distinct and very different appearances; males and females occurring in both.

(5a) One type is brown with mottled yellow, just like the Eupioea butterfly, which is distasteful to birds. (5b) The other type is striped black and blue like the Danais butterfly, which also has an unpleasant taste.

When frightened, both types fly like a Mime, but, normally, each flies the slow, graceful way the butterfly they are imitating flies.  

LEAF-BINDING ANTS The leaf-binding ant builds nests out of leaves sewn together. The problem is that it does not have the thread to tie the leaves together. So it produces larvae, then it will go to one of its children and, carefully holding it in its jaws, the adult ant walks over to the leaves. The baby ant dutifully exudes silk, which the adult reaches up and takes and uses to sew the leaves together.  

DIGESTIVE AIDS Vast numbers of one-celled plants (fungi) and animals (protozoa) live in the stomachs of cattle. The part of a cow's stomach where digestion takes place has a volume of about 100 quarts [94.63 liters)and contains 10 billion micro-organisms in each drop.

Those tiny organisms obtain nourishment from the food eaten by the cow, but at the same time they break down the cellulose in the plants on which the cow feeds. If they did not do this, the cow would die of starvation, not being able to extract nutrition from the food.

Termites have a similar problem and solution. They eat wood, but without certain bacteria in their stomachs they could not digest it. The bacteria digest it for them.  

COUNTING ANTS Can ants count? Ants are sent out from the nest to find food and bring it back. When they find a piece that is too large, they go back and get other ants to come back and help them. A scientist carefully cut a dead grasshopper into three pieces. The second was twice as large as the first, and the third twice as large as the second. Then the three pieces were placed in different places. When the scout ant found each piece, he looked it over for a moment, tried to lift it, then rushed off for helpers. Twenty-eight ants were brought back to work on the smallest; 44 on the one twice as large, and 89 on the third. The scout ants estimated it very well!  

THE INTELLIGENCE OF A SPIDER A Spider has very unusual and specialized organs for producing the tiny thread which it uses for so many different things. The spinneret organs of the spider have hundreds of apertures through which silk and glue are extruded. In addition, a special oil gland has to be on each foot so it does not become stuck in its own web.

Spider webs are known to be as large as 19 feet [579 cm) in circumference, yet the silk is as thin as a single molecule. It is said that only fused quartz has a higher tensile strength.

Next time a spider spins a web, watch him closely. First he will make a few radiating lines (threads running out from the center). Then he will make the circle lines. First he will spin the largest circle, and then, one by one, he will make each of the smaller circles. Especially watch him closely as he makes those circles, for they are the ones coated with sticky glue. This is what you will see:

He will swing from one radiating line to a second, spinning out thread for the circle line as he goes. Now comes the special part: As he reaches the second radiating line, he will carefully pause and pluck--yes, pluck--behind him the circle line as a violinist would pluck a string with his finger in pizzicato. Then he will swing across to the next radiating line, reeling out more circle thread as he goes, and again he will deliberately pause and give that part of the circle a final pluck before leaving it.

Why? Wave motion is involved here. That thread was moistened with his glue gun, but as it comes from the spider it will not catch bugs. What is needed is that pluck, which vibrates the cord and pushes the glue into separate tiny balls strung out along it! Now it is ready to catch flies and insects; not before. Watch the spider in action as he spins his web and do a lot of thinking as you watch.

BOLO SPIDERS Did you ever see a boy play endlessly with a lasso? Well, there are spiders that do the same thing. Thinking that it takes too much work to go out and catch some food, certain spiders will sit around and swing a strand of silk with a tiny ball of glue on the end. This will go on for minutes at a time. As a passing insect is seen, instead of jumping it, these lazy Bollo spiders just throw a lasso at it!

Other spiders build a little net the size of a nickel and spend their time trying to throw it over insect pedestrians.

Then there is Dolometes fimbriatus spider. He decided to really do it up right, so he makes little rafts out of silk, climbs in, and then goes canoeing after insects!  

SEA CUCUMBER The sea cucumber dwells in the ocean. It catches its food without much trouble, but how does it do it, for it is blind?

This 2-inch [5.08 cm] wide creature lives as much as 600 feet [183 m) deep in the sea, and has 15 million tiny spines on its skin. There are billions of special nerve cells under the skin. These tell it what is in the water all around him. The brown warts on the skin are receptor nerve centers which receive the messages and send them on to nerve networks further down, which in turn are connected to a very tiny brain. Somehow it receives all those signals, unscrambles them, and knows what to do next.

Part of these are motion signals, but others are chemical signals. Extremely minute chemicals in the water warn it in advance of various types of creatures nearby.

There are 25 super-sensitive tentacles near its mouth. These are sensitive to taste and touch. So when it catches something, they tell it whether it is safe to eat!

In addition, the sea cucumber burrows into the sand and eats that! In the process, it extracts the bits of food in the sludge. What it does not eat is cast out as high-quality dirt; something which earthworms on land also do. Each year, the sea cucumber swallows 200 pounds [90.72 kg] of sand and dirt, yet it only weighs about a pound.

If a fish or crab approaches, his chemical wart system warns the blind creature that an enemy is lurking not far away. The sea cucumber then fires goo quite accurately at the intruder, and the sticky stuff adheres to it like spider webs and it is caught.

But what if a big fish comes after the sea cucumber? Somehow recognizing that it is a larger fish, the little creature does something very different! It forces all its intestines out through its mouth! The fish goes after them and leaves the sea cucumber alone. Then it crawls under a rock and rests awhile as new intestines grow back.

LYCAENIDAE BUTTERFLIES These butterflies have structures which look like antennae on the hind portion of their wings. Eye spots are there also. When a bird comes along to eat the butterfly, it waves its hind "antennae," and the bird snaps at it. Butat that instantthe butterfly flies off rapidly in the other direction and hides in the vegetation.  

CATKIN CATERPILLAR These little caterpillars hatch out in early summer just when the oak tree catkin flowers open up. They begin eating catkin flowersand they look just like golden catkin flowers! For two weeks the catkins bloom and during that time the catkin caterpillars stay there and eat catkins, while looking just like them.

Then they spin cocoons and later emerge as light green moths. The moths lay their eggs in the middle of the same summer, and soon caterpillars emerge. But these caterpillars immediately begin eating the oak leaves and they look like brown oak twigs! (It has been suggested that perhaps the tannin in the oak leaves causes them to look different than the spring caterpillars.)

Then they spin cocoons and later emerge as light green moths. The moths lay their eggs in the late summer, and next spring the young will be golden catkin caterpillars again.  



  WATER BEETLE One type of water beetle (Stenus bipunctatus) escapes from enemies by discharging a detergent from a special gland. This discharge has two powerful effects. First, it shoots the beetle away from the danger, and, second, at the same time, the detergent weakens water surface tension and the creature chasing the beetle sinks in the water. It took a good knowledge of chemistry to figure that one out. Mankind did not know about anti-surface tension detergents till a few decades ago.

LEAF CUTTING ANT This is a South American red ant about 1/2 inch [.635 cm] long, which is somewhat larger than most ants. Millions of these ants crawl out of their nest in the morning to begin their daily work. Climbing trees, they use their pincers (the mandibles by their heads) to cut leaves into 2-inch [5.08 sq cm] square pieces. Then each ant lifts a leaf overhead and carries it off. (It is for this reason that they are also called "umbrella ants" or "parosol" ants.)

The piece of leaf is much larger than the ant. It should be quite a task just to hoist it overhead and carry it, but now another ant climbs on top! He is a guard ant, and it is his job to watch for a certain fly that might attack the ant carrying the leaf.

The destination of all these leaves is their "ant garden." Millions of leaves are brought down holes in the ground and carried through tunnels, until finally the ants enter with them into one of many rooms, each the size of a football. Here the leaves are spread out, and special worker ants, which have better eyesight than do the others (needed for the Close exacting work they must do), chew up the leaves and make them much smaller. Next they crawl over the leaves and release a fluid on them which dampens and causes them to decay. In this way, the leaves turn into good soil instead of simply drying up.

Having become good compost, mushrooms always begin growing on it. This is the leaf-cutting ant's garden!

But not only mushrooms, but mildew, rust, and other bacteria also begin growing in the garden. The ants must now carefully weed their garden! They know that everything but the mushrooms must be removed as these "weeds" will take over. The weeds are carried out through the tunnels and dumped outside.

We are here discussing not human beings, or even dumb squirrels but ants with brains the size of pin heads! And when they do all this work underground including the careful weeding, it is all done in the dark. How can they know what to weed out?

The story ends happily enough: the ants live contentedly on the mushrooms, even though a lot of work must continually be done to prepare new gardens and care for them.

Oddly enough, there are other leaf-cutting ants which go through the same procedure, but they weed out the mushrooms and eat the other fungi and bacteria which grows in their garden!

BUTTERFLY WINGS One of the most exacting and meticulous skills in optics technology is ruling a diffraction grating, so that It will split up light rays into component spectral colors. First, an optical surface must be carefully marked with parallel lines in the form of a fine grid. The more lines per millimeter, the better will be the result. Such gratings are used in a variety of delicate optical devices, so one of the challenges of science is to design machines which can scribe ever finer lines, thus producing more precisioned instruments.

But the iridescent butterfly has been turning out flawless diffraction gratings ever since they first came into existence. Billions of copies are produced each summer as butterflies emerge from their chrysalises.

Each butterfly wing is overlaid with countless numbers of extremely small scales, and each one is laid down in exact order in a precise pattern. The scales are shingled on, overlapping each other very slightly. and inscribed on each scale are fine diffraction grating lines, finely tuned to reflect a certain wavelength of light. Different gratings would produce different colors, yet the large pattern worked out by these gratings is always exquisitely designed by a master Craftsman. It is this that gives many butterflies their exquisite coloring.

That special coloring is scientifically known as "iridescence." It is best seen when the surface is black, so that the diffraction grating can reflect certain colors in their full clarity. The throat of a hummingbird and the male mallard duck are another of the many examples in nature of iridescent coloring. It consists of reflected color; there is no color in the surface itself. Prismatic colors in sunlight are split up and certain ones are reflected, according to the angle of the viewer.

PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR The man-of-war is one of the largest jelly fish in the ocean. Its tentacles hang down a great distance and paralyze smaller fish which get caught in them.

But there is one little fish, the Nomeus, which swims close to the Man-of-War because it is never in danger of being injured by a sting of the large jellyfish. While other fish are instantly paralyzed by those long tentacles, the little Nomeus can swim around and through them all day long and never be disturbed. It is no surprise, therefore, that the little defenseless fish stays close to the Man-of-War.

It should also be no surprise that other fish, intent on eating the little fish, chase him right into the tentacles, where those larger fish are instantly caught.  

DESERT ANT The desert ant (Cataglyphis) Of the Sahara Desert is the fastest-running insect on earth. He can run a yard in one second or 2 miles an hour. Living out in the desert sand, he wanders far from his nest over featureless sand, but he always knows where he is and easily finds his way back home. Most ants have two eyes, but the desert ant has five. The extra three are located in his forehead between and above his normal eyes. With them he sees polarized light, and navigates by seeing features in light which we cannot see. Without his speed and special eyesight, he could never survive under such harsh conditions.

GIRDLER BEETLE The mimosa girdler beetle knows that it must go to the mimosa tree in order to lay its eggs. Arriving there, it searches for the proper place for the eggs. Eventually it finds what it is looking for: a very small tree branch. Going about a foot or two from the trunk, the beetle carefully cuts a notch in the bark all the way around the tree, for it somehow knows that its particular babies cannot live on fresh mimosa bark; it has to be dead! Who told the beetle that a notch has to be cut around the entire branch in order to kill it?

AWESOME CREATURES The railroad worm of South America journeys along looking somewhat like a locomotive or a diesel truck. It has a red light on its head and 11 pairs of greenish Eyes.

The Algerian locust protects itself by opening a pore between the first and second joints at the base of its leg, and shooting a stream of special juice as much as 20 feet [61 dm]!

There is a species of blind termites which has a bi-lobed gland on the head which contains a fluid that solidifies when it comes in contact with the air. Although blind, this termite in some unknown way knows exactly which direction to fire its fluid. The jet stream flies accurately into the face of an invading ant, who immediately leaves.

The china-mark moth is exquisitely designed both in line and color drawings. But that is not why we mention this little creature here. Unlike every other caterpillar in the world, It spends the entire caterpillar stage of its life underwater!

WATER BUG This little water bug is greenish-black and about an inch long. It brandishes pliers-like pincers which it uses to catch its food.

When the female is about to lay her eggs, she goes over to where the male is swimming around and stops him. Then she carefully lays all her eggs on his back! A sticky glue is placed underneath each pinhead-sized egg.

This load presents problems for the male, for now it is easier for him to float to the surface, so he needs to hold onto a water plant for support. As with all water bugs, he must occasionally come up for air. So he crawls up the leaf, catches a bubble beneath his wings, and then crawls back down under the water. There are little holes in his wings called "sphericles;" with these he takes oxygen from the bubble and sends it through special reservoir tubes into his body.

If there were no water plants to hold onto, the male could not carry the eggs for he could not get oxygen. Then he would have to kick off the eggs and they would die.

While he carries the eggs on his back, he massages them with hairs on his hind legs. This stirs up the water and cleans fungus off them. Gently he rubs the eggs several times each day. Every so often, he does "push-ups," and this circulates water around the eggs so they will get enough oxygen.

The male carries them for 3 weeks on his back, and then they are hatched. Why does the female lay her eggs on the male's back? Well, it is impossible for her to place them on her own back, and she dare not place them on a stone or water plant, for then they will be eaten.

  TARANTULA SPIDER This large spider has hairs with sharp fishhook barbs. When a snake draws near to strike, the spider knows to pull out hairs and just as the snake lunges forward, the spider throw them up in the air and jumps back. The open mouth of the snake snaps onto these barbs and he leaves.

The tarantula does not spin webs but lives underground in a room which it lines with silk. Tiny toads 1/10th of its size go into that hole and live there with it. They protect the spider and its eggs from ants. In turn, the spider protects them from the western ribbon snake.

When the snake comes, the toads run together and the spider jumps on their backs and challenges the snake. Then when the snake gets a mouthful of barbs, he backs out of the hole, and the toads go back to eating the ants. If a toad accidentally gets a baby spider in his mouth, he feels the hooksand spits it out, unharmed, right away.

WHIRRING WINGS Who is the mechanical genius that devised the wings of the insect, Glossing palpalis, which beat 120 times a second, and arranged the timing of the beat so that the wing actually rests three-fourths of that time!

Who created the wings of the tiny midge (an insect less than one-tenth of an inch long) that beats over 1,000 times per second!  

LEGS OF THE GRASSHOPPER Scientists have studied the marvelous hind legs of the grasshopper. This little creature can leap about 10 times its body length in a vertical jump, or 20 times its length (almost one meter ]39 inches]) horizontally.

The grasshopper only weighs two grams [30.8 g), and its leg muscle is only 1/25th of a gram, so it has a power to weight ratio of 20,000 to one. Its tiny hind leg muscle exerts power equivalent to 20,000 grams for each gram of its own body weight.

  ICHNEUMON WASP Imagine a tiny creature that looks so delicate that the slightest wind might blow it over. Then this little thing lands on a hard tree trunk, and begins thumping with something that looks as delicate and frail as the leg of a daddy-long-legs. Frail? that antennae of the ichneumon wasp happens to be a high-power extension drill!

The drill is about 4 1/2 inches [11.43 cm] long; so long that it curves up and down as the small fly thumps on the hardwood with it. After thumping for a time, the tiny creature somehow knows it has found the right place to start work.

Drilling begins. This little wasp uses that delicate feeler to cut its way down through several inches of hard (hard!) oak wood! How can it do it? No one has any slightest idea. But it does do it.

The second miracle is what the wasp is drilling for the larvae of a special beetle. How does it know where to start its drill so as to go straight down (it always drills straight down) and reach a beetle larvae? No one can figure that one out either. Somehow that initial faint thumping gave it the needed information.

The ichneumon wasp (Thalessa) lays its eggs on the larvae of the Tremex. When those eggs hatch, they will have food to grow on. Then, before they grow too large, tiny ichneumon wasps come out through that original hole.

INSECTS AND INFRA-RED Philip Callahan reports that a number of insects communicate by means of infra-red! They catch infra-red radiation with their antennae and sensory hairs.

In order to send messages by infra-red, the body sending the messages must be warmer than ambient temperature. For example, the corn earworm moth warms its body by vibrating its wings before it initially starts into action for the night. Then it takes off and begins flying. Its body is now warmer than the atmosphere and it will radiate detectable blackbody infra-red. This infra-red signal is modulated into peaks by the flapping of the wings. The signal is strongest from the sides of the moth, and most of the heat is generated by the thoracic (wing) muscles. This produces a directional signal, and is picked up directionally by other moths because they have antenna pits which consist of vectored elements arranged in a 360 circle around a main detector.

That brief description will afford you a hint of the complicated aspects of infra-red signaling, which many insects regularly do. Callahan found by experimentation that the vibration of insect antenna match log periodic emission bands of the micrometer wavelengths of infra-red!

By the way, how can an insect sense heat from another insect 20 or 30 feet [61-91 dm] away? Think about that one for a time.

SURPRISING CREATURES The grasshopper does not have its ears in the usual place. According to the species, sometimes they are underneath its abdomen, and sometimes in its forearms.

In Java there is a strange earthworm that sings, and even whistles!

The Difflugia is a type of amoeba. This tiny creature gathers sand grains, and then cements them together into a house! Using a sticky secretion, it makes a ball-shaped house with a hole in one side. As it travels about it carries its house with it. When enemies approach, the amoeba jumps inside!

BANANA SLUG This is the longest slug in the United States and the second longest in the world. It is 10 inches long (most slugs are only 1 inch in length) and lives in the Redwood National Park in Northern California.

It has two pairs of tentacles on the front of its head. The upper two pair are longer and are its eyes. They are set high in order to give a better view. Each eye can move around independently of the other. Or, at will, they can periscope down into the head and back out again.

The lower two pair are sensory organs. With these, it can smell. Special sensory cells, similar to those in your nose are on their tips. But sense of touch cells are also on those same tips. So it can touch and taste at the same time.

Each tentacle is less than 1/2 inch (.635 cm) long and is thinner than a pencil lead. If one of the four (two eyes and two taste/touch organs) are lost, it will grow back within a short time, and work just fine after it does!

There is not a bone in its body, yet it has a sharp jaw that can bite off food. There are barbs on its tongue which saw through food, which is then pulled back and down its throat. Behind its head there is a hole which opens to its lungs. The banana slug knows to close it during rainfall otherwise its lungs would drown. Having no arms or legs, it moves by a muscular foot which reaches out and pulls it forward.

A "peddle gland" produces sticky saliva which protects it from sharp objects in the ground beneath it. When an enemy approaches, the tiny creature gives off a mucus that tastes terrible. Another mucus keeps it from losing water through its skin. After climbing up into a tree, it falls out! The sticky mucus helps it return to the ground. It pushes out some sticky mucus from its tail, and then lets itself down slowly from a thin cord of this mucus.  

ROTARY ENGINE One bacterium has small hairs twisted in a stiff spiral at one end of it. It spins this corkscrew like the propeller of a ship and drives itself forward through water. It can even reverse its engine!

Scientists are still not clear how it is able to whirl the mechanism. Using this method of locomotion, it is able to attain speeds which would, if it were our size, propel it forward at 30 miles [48 km] per hour.

Commenting on it, Leo Janos in Smithsonian said that "nature invented the wheel." Another researcher (Helmut Tributsch) declared: "One of the most fatastic concepts in biology has come true: Nature has indeed produced a rotary engine, complete with coupling, rotating axle, bearings, and rotating power transmission."  

INSECT WINGS The typical insect wing is a superbly designed piece of flying equipment. It is a thin membrane reinforced with numerous veins which give it a powerful stroke potential in regard to strength, light weight, and carrying capacity.

The wing movement of an insect is complicated, and requires that each tiny wing move up, down, forward, backward, and also twist. Folding and buckling of the wing is also needed during wing operation.

Well, then, just how does the wing do all that and produce any flight at all? It does it by following a figure-eight pattern. Insects fly forward by using this figure-eight pattern. Some can hover using it, and some can even fly backward with it. The trick is the tilt of the wings and the angle of the figure-eight. A few exceptionally good fliers can fly on their sides, or even fly a rotation about their head or tail! This is done by utilizing unequal wing movement.

One scientist, Romoser, noted that the wing movement of insects is so efficient that it produces a polarized flow of air from front to rear during 85 percent of its wing-beat cycle! That is a terrifically high-efficiency air-flow pattern from an up-and-down flap of an insect's wings!

A scientist concluded several years ago that the honey bee has a body too large and heavy for the size of its wings, and therefore it should not be able to fly. We need to tell that to the honey bees. This wing-to-weight ratio is even more extreme in the bumble bee.

The worker honey bee has many duties in the hive and it could not do them efficiently if it had large wings in relation to its girth and weight. So it has small wings, but beats them faster. While some beetles have a wing-beat of 55 per second, the wing-beat of the honey bee is over 200 per second. (The mosquito is 600, and the midge is 1,046 per second, but keep in mind that the mosquito and midge are very tiny, compared with the large honey bee.)

  BUOYANCY REGULATORS Man was able to invent the submarine when he knew enough about structural steel and a number of other factors. A very important principle was buoyancy control. Without a method of taking the submarine up and down at will, it could not effectively be used.

Microscopic radiolarians have oil droplets in their protoplasm by which they regulate their weight underwater, and thereby move up and down. Fish push gas in and out of swim bladders to do the same thing. If they did not do this, they could still swim forward and turn, but they could not swim upward or downward.

The chambered nautilus has flotation tanks in its inner chambers. This mindless creature knows to alter the proportions of water and gas in these tanks, so that it can regulate its depth.

The giant cuttle fish has similar cavities, but they are located in its internal shell, the cuttlebone (the same one your canary likes to eat). When it wants to move upward, the cuttlefish pumps water out of its cuttlebone skeleton and allows gas to fill the emptied cavity. How did it learn to do that?

In each case, these creatures extract oxygen and other gases from the water, and use part of them in these floatation tanks.  

PAPER MAKERS The invention of paper was a major achievement for mankind. But wasps, yellow jackets and hornets have been doing it all along. They chew up old wood and produce paper to make their nests

Hornets, for example, hang their grey-paper nests from trees. The outer covering is many layers of paper, with dead-air spaces in between. This provides heat and cold insulation equivalent to a brick wall 16 inches [40.64 cm] thick.  

STRANGE SIGHTS DEEP DOWN The scarlet shrimp shoots forth a cloud of luminous fluid to blind its assailant with light, while the shrimp escapes in the dark.

The Venus girdle appears to be a long ribbon of light as it moves through the water.

The sea gooseberry is a small creature about 1 1/z inches [3.81 cm] long which shines brightly at night, but in the daytime is a lovely mass of beautiful colors like the colors in a rainbow.

WATER SKATER These are the little insects which run about on the surface of ponds. Someone finally decided to examine the bottom of their feet with an electron microscope. It was found that their feet have many small pits surrounded by hairs. Inside the pits are air bubbles, and around the pits are the hairs to help hold the bubbles in. The hairs also give the insects traction as they walk and run about on water.

JET PROPULSION Most large passenger planes today are jet-propelled. Many invertebrates are also. This includes the octopus and squid, which can travel very swiftly by using powerful muscles to shoot out water forcefully.

Jellyfish, scallops, the chambered nautilus, dragonfly larvae, and even some oceanic plankton use jet propulsion to move about.

FIDDLER CRAB Evidence and testimonies are available that the fiddler crab can foretell cyclonic storms. But no one can understands how the little creature does it.

These crabs live in shallow, water-filled holes a few feet above normal tide level. Several hours before a hurricane strikes, they leave their holes and scurry inland. In this way they escape the destruction that would come if they remained in their little puddles next to the ocean. They have this ability to detect serious storms in advance, whether they be hurricanes, tornadoes, or major wind storms.

FIREFLIES NO one has solved the mystery of this tiny creature, although scientists have spent years trying to do so. One researcher, determined to discover the cause of the fire in the fly, spent his entire adult lifetime at the task, yet failed to do more than to name the substance responsible. (Luciferln [light-bearing compound] it is called.)

The firefly makes light with almost no heat. Yet every other source of light of which we know (apart from certain luminous animals and plants), produces large amounts of heat as well as light, thus wasting a lot of energy when heat is not wanted or needed.

Then there is the signal system used by the firefly and the glow worm. It is well known among scientists that they have a code system of flashes, something like flashed dots and dashes, but no one has broken the code yet. The male (the "firefly") flies through the air, signaling as he goes. Down on the ground the female (called a "glowworm") signals back.  

MAGNETIC COMPASSES It was not until the 13th century that navigators began using compasses, which at first were magnetic needles floating in a bowl of water or oil.

But from the beginning, bacteria have had within them strings of magnetite particles just the right size to make a compass. These guide them back to preferred locations. Keep in mind that, even though a bacterium is quite small, the distances it travels can seem long to it with many twists and turns.  

Magnetite is a natural magnetic stone. Particles of it have been found in other creatures as well, and apparently helps guide them in their journeys. It has been found in birds, bees, butterflies, dolphins, mollusks. How did the particles get there?  

MONARCH'S HEAT SYSTEM This is the Well-known orange and black butterfly that is so beautiful. Elsewhere we have mentioned how it migrates each winter hundreds of miles to a place far away. But just now let us consider the requirements of its heating system. Doing so will help us to better understand the flying and resting movements of many other butterflies:

The monarch "rests" on a flower with its wings straight out. It does not do this to rest, nor to help it obtain nectar, but to soak up sunlight. Heat from the sunshine is absorbed by its wince, and is then transferred to the thorax (its trunk) and internal organs within ft. When its body temperature is at least 81 F [27C], ft is ready to begin flying.

Once in the air, it can still fly when the temperature drops lower, but not below 50F [10C]. Its body muscles must be at least 81 F [27C] before it begins flying, but once in motion, tiny cells on its wings act as heat collectors and they continue to soak up heat from the sun. Two principles apply here: (1) It is easier to heat something thin, than something thick, and (2) darker wings absorb heat somewhat better than light wings.

Early in the morning, the monarch will climb up on a leaf or flower and angle its wings to get as much sunlight as possible when the sun begins to shine. This little creature knows to angle its wings towards the sun. In this way, they act as "heat sinks" to collect heat from sun rays.

If it is a cool, sunny day and the butterfly has already reached the needed temperature to get started flying for the day, it will only fly short distances and then "stop to rest on a flower." It is neither resting nor looking for nectar, but warming up its body again. Then off it will go again for another short distance. When doing this, the butterfly prefers to land on light-colored flowers, like daisies. In this way heat will also be reflected up from below.

If the sun goes behind a cloud, then the monarch must find some other way to generate heat. So it perches on a flower, closes its wings and makes them quiver very rapidly. This produces friction in its wing muscles and its body becomes 10F warmer!  It is shivering with its wings closed till it becomes warm enough, and then it will fly again.

When the day becomes hotter, flying can help it cool off for a time, but when the heat increases still more, the butterfly flies to a shady spot, lands, and closes its wings. In this way, even the warm rays reflected by clouds will not be absorbed. The hottest its body can safely be is 105F [41 C]. Scientists think that, somewhere in its tiny body, there must be a special thermometer which tells it the temperature. Without that thermometer, it would not know when to heat up or cool off. But even with such temperature information, how would the little creature know what to do to warm up or cool off? Yet it does know, and its life depends on the fact.  

PALOLO WORM This little worm lives deep in the oceans of the South Pacific. It burrows into coral reefs and at certain exact times it reproduces. This is done by breaking off half of its body, which floats to the surface of the ocean! Natives on islands in Samoa and Fiji know exactly when this occurs each year.

CLOCKWORK When the tide is out, diatoms-among the smallest creatures in the ocean-come to the surface of wet beach sand. When the tide comes in, they go down into the sand again. When these same diatoms are taken into the laboratory, although there is no tidal ebb and flow in that sand, their clocks continue to tell them to go up and down according to the time when the tides are taking place. Figure that one out.

During low tide, fiddler crabs turn a darker color and come out. When high tide arrives, they turn paler and dig down into the sand. Carried off to laboratories, they continue to go through the same cycle of color and digging in accordance with the tides back at the ocean.  

CICADA  in 1634, the Pilgrims named this creature the "seventeen-year locust." But the cicada (a sucking insect) is different than a locust (a chewing insect). There are 1, 3, 9, 13, and 17year varieties of the cicada. The 17-year variety is one of the longest-lived insects in the world. This is the story of the 17-year cicada:

The female lays eggs and they hatch in about 1 1/2  or 2 months. The parents die 1 month before the babies hatch, so no information is given them by their parents. Upon hatching, each one drops to the ground and knows to instantly dig in. He also knows to dig down to below the frost line. If he did not do so he would die that first winter. He is called a "nymph," looks like a grub and is 6/100 inch in length.

Having dug into the ground until he reaches a tree root, this tiny creature will spend the next 17 years sucking on sap from that root, using a needle-like tongue to obtain it. During that time, the little creature will molt five times, grow larger each timeand do it all underground.

How does the grub know when the 17 years are up? The answer is simple enough: he has a 17year clock in his tiny head! At a certain time, suddenly all the 17-year "locusts" come out together! They come out after sunset. And they all come out on the same night!

By emerging from the ground at night, birds will not eat them during this especially unprotected time. Underground, below the frost line, how did each one know whether it was night or day? How did each one know that 17 years had passed? How did each one know to come out on the same night as all the others?

It all happens soundlessly. Arriving above ground, immediately they begin climbing trees. Clinging to the bark, they begin their sixth and last molt. The skin splits on their backs, and they crawl out, leaving the old skins behind. They have waited 17 years, and now they wait 2 more days while their wings dry, harden, and strengthen.

Then the racket begins! The male cicadas begin calling with their wings. It sounds as if the woods are full of buzz saws! Everyone knows that the 17-year locust has come back again.

The females then make saw-tooth marks in trees, and lay their eggs. After 3-4 weeks all the adults die. Several more weeks and the eggs hatch, and the whole 17-year cycle begins over again.

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The Creator's Handiwork: The Invertebrates
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