the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.“the normal limits to human perception”the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses.“the perception of pain”
synonyms: recognition, awareness, consciousness, appreciation, realization, knowledge,
grasp, understanding, comprehension, apprehension;formal cognizance“our perception of our own limitations”a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.“Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public”
synonyms: impression, idea, conception, notion, thought, belief, judgment, estimation“popular perceptions of old age”
Definition taken from Google
The way we see the world around us, our vision, is affected by many things. Whether we acknowledge it or not, none of us view life without some sort of bias. I see the world through a biblical lens. The biblical worldview should be shared by all of us that have turned from trusting in ourselves and have put all of our faith and trust in our Creator, Savior, and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. We should interpret every situation through a Christian outlook that comes from a careful reading of the Word of God. Our worldview will shape our understanding of everything from philosophy and psychology to scientific inquiry and the interpretation of historical science.
That said, I would like to bring up a somewhat comical observance about how our everyday perception can be skewed. It is often brought to my attention that the internet has revealed another amazingly huge reptile or amphibian of incredible, never before seen dimensions. These massive beasts are usually touted as the new world record, complete with a list of unbelievable stats. Images quickly go viral and someone will ask me if I saw that 14-foot rattlesnake or that 900 pound anaconda or some such photo making the rounds. Without spending a great deal of my time going in to detail about each individual account, I just want to address one issue by sharing a couple of images that a friend of mine took a few years ago.
That is me pictured below and in each image I have a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) in my snake tongs. I raise the following question to test the readers’ perception skill level.
a. 5 inches
b. 9 inches
c. 18 inches
How many of you said 9 inches? Well guess what, all three of the given options are completely false.
You were given three erroneous conclusions that may have seemed plausible because we began with the wrong question. I asked, “How much longer is snake number two than snake number one?” Before we can answer that question, we should first ask, “Are snake number one and snake number two the same snake?” I apologize for leading you astray, but you can see how easily an image can give you the wrong impression. In the photo on the left the snake is slightly farther away from the camera than I am. In the image on the right, the snake is about four feet closer to the camera than I am. People often use this trick when fishing, as they hold their catch out toward the camera for the photo. There is no Photoshopping or other editing necessary to pull this off.
Another way that an image may be misleading, is if a subject appears without anything else in the photo provided for frame of reference. It may be difficult to determine the size of the snake pictured below.
Now take a look at the same subject with my daughter’s hand for frame of reference.
These images did not require any tricky editing of any kind, now consider how easy it is to use Photoshop and other photo editing software for even more outrageous effects. The internet is full of altered images and fanciful stories so please, unless you have intimate knowledge of the account being circulated, please do not take it as cold hard fact.
Similarly, scientific disciplines are dominated by secularists who have a humanistic worldview. They often come to the wrong conclusions because they have dismissed the possibility of a Creator and Designer and are thus asking the wrong questions and coming to erroneous conclusions.
Recently I had the honor of writing about my favorite group of animals (of course I mean creeping things) for Creation Illustrated Magazine! The article “The Creation of Creeping Things” was featured in the Fall 2016 Edition, Vol.23, No.3 which has just become available for purchase. You can subscribe or find out more about Creation Illustrated here: http://www.creationillustrated.com/
The article is about day 6 of the creation week (as told in the book of Genesis) and how the creeping things fit into the rest of God’s Creation. In the article, and in Creeping Things Ministries, we focus on how the design of these animals glorifies their infinitely wise Designer. If you are a reader of this blog, you will find the article to be very similar to what you see here and what we do in the Creeping Things Video Series.
I was also blessed to see that Creation Illustrated chose to use four of my photos in the article. I literally have thousands of photos of reptiles and amphibians that are not currently being put to good use, and I would much prefer them to be utilized in a God-honoring way.
They appropriately chose the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), Blainville’s Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii) the Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix), and the Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus).
Creation Illustrated Magazine is also available for purchase at the Creation and Earth History Museum in Santee, CA. Pick up a copy of Creation Illustrated today and check out the article on page 28.
Thanks for reading! To God be the glory forever Amen!
Okay so this is not exactly breaking news, but still a pretty cool read.
Here is the original article from AIG
by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on October 15, 2011
NewScientist: “Zoologger: The first reptile with a true placenta” The skink that breaks the rules
A lizard with a true placenta? That’s what researchers Daniel Blackburn and Alexander Fleming have discovered by dissecting Trachylepis ivensii, a rare species of African skink.
Most people think of reptiles as egg-layers, but about a fifth of them give birth to live young. These live-bearers, however, actually “lay” their eggs inside the mother’s oviducts. There—after deriving various amounts of nourishment from the mother or the yolk—the young are born “live” after the eggshells have thinned or disappeared. Many live-bearing reptiles actually have some sort of placenta to allow the young to receive nourishment through a vascular avenue.
IN OTHER WORDS, AS PLACENTAS GO, THIS ONE IS PARTICULARLY WELL-DEVELOPED.
So, if live-bearing lizards typically have some kind of placenta, what is special about this particular skink? Blackburn and Fleming found that the placenta in this case is deeply embedded and intimately associated with the maternal vascular structures. In other words, as placentas go, this one is particularly well-developed.
In the Journal of Morphology they write, “This species has evolved an extraordinary placental pattern long thought to be confined to mammals, in which fetal tissues invade the uterine lining to contact maternal blood vessels. The vestigial shell membrane disappears very early in development, allowing the egg to absorb uterine secretions.”1
Actually, at least two other kinds of skinks possess high levels of placental development. However, T. ivensii’s “pattern of fetal membrane development . . . is unique among vertebrates. T. ivensii represents a new extreme in placental specializations of reptiles, and is the most striking case of convergence on the developmental features of viviparous mammals known.”2
So with the mammalian placenta considered the pinnacle of reproductive evolution, these researchers are describing this skink as the most impressive reptilian example of a great feature that evolved “no fewer than 132 times.” No transitional fossils accompanying this popular evolutionary pathway, however, have been found. Furthermore, the complex design of Trachylepis ivensii’s placenta is not a copy of mammalian placentas but is “unique.” For these reasons, evolutionists invoke convergent evolution, the classic explanation for the existence of common features in organisms for which even the best evolutionary minds cannot invent common ancestry.
Extant live-bearing lizards and other reptiles display an array of placental morphologies. Furthermore, at least two species of skinks contain both egg-laying and live-bearing members.3 While touted as evidence for evolution, these species are actually good illustrations not of evolution but of genetic variation within created kinds. Those dual-mode skink species exist in different climates, each variety being well-adapted to the challenges of its environment. And there is no evidence that those skink populations are changing their reproductive habits at all or evolving into new kinds of creatures.
While we cannot know for certain how many created kinds of lizards God made in the beginning, we could postulate that the genetic ability for egg-laying and live-birth co-existed at least in skinks of the dual-mode types. Whether other variations of Trachylepis ivensii existed in the past, we cannot know. However, the diversity of placental morphology among reptiles is consistent with the biblical concept that the created kinds of creatures diversified to fill the ecological niches of the world. Natural selection (and other mechanisms) would have allowed the best-adapted populations to survive in each habitat.
A skink with a true placenta is no more an example of evolution than is an egg-laying mammal like a platypus. Each has features that appear to “cross” man-made lines of classification, but this should be no surprise since those categories do not represent evolutionary lineages. God’s creatures are not bound by our classification schemes, and the genetic possibilities He built into organisms made diverse adaptations and good ecological “fits” possible.
Hostility toward creationists is par for the course these days. Let me begin by clarifying what a “creationist” really is. This is nothing more than a label slapped on anyone who admits that they believe the Bible as written. How dare anyone believe that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant in the original language, with a single intended meaning that is determined by the context and the writing style? One becomes a creationist when they admit that the Bible means what it says and they believe it. Of course poetry is poetry, and hyperbole is hyperbole, but that which is written as historical narrative is meant as actual history.
I had been contemplating writing a post about this issue when I read an article from Answers in Genesis today that struck a particular chord with me. The article titled Secularist Intolerance Against Scientific Paper That Briefly Mentions Creator is well worth a read for anyone who might be unaware or confused about the lack of freedom to draw conclusions in any scientific field that do not adhere to the religion of humanistic naturalism. In the case of this scientific paper there was an uproar because the word Creator was used twice (likely accidentally) by foreign scientists who may not have a solid grip on the English language. Even a brief mention of God in the humanist domain receives instant hostility…
To that end, I would like to share a series of emails that I recently received when attempting to contact an individual at another museum about a possible range extension for a species of centipede. This person is a well known expert in their field and has published many scientific papers about the natural history of invertebrates. For the record, I emailed them at their work email, not a private email address. Their response was extremely unprofessional, emotionally charged, and quite obviously meant to be insulting and goading. The hostility that saturates and permeates nearly every sentence really exemplifies what it is like for a creationist such as myself to attempt to work with or even contact these typically dogmatic evolutionists. It can be a challenge to stay professional when dealing with individuals bent on driving all non-humanistic, naturalistic, opinions on origins, and freedom of discussion of such, far from the realm of academia and relegated to a place where it can only be met with ridicule or hatred.
Below is my initial email in blue, followed by their email responses in red and mine in blue….
Hello, I found your information while doing an online search for Scolopendra aztecorum. I was wondering if you had any experience with this species or any contacts for any one working with Chilopoda in MEX. I have a suspected S. aztecorum field collected from rock flipping in , CA and I am having a lot of trouble finding data on the species. I have a paper “Cupul-Magana 2013 Chilopoda de Mexico”, and it lists aztecorum on page 35, but does not give any identification info. I cannot locate the original description from Verhoeff K.W. 1934. I know the paper is Beitrage zur Systematik und Geographie: Zoologische Jahrbücher, Abteilung für Systematik. 66: 1-112., but have not been able to lay hold if it.
My question is, is aztecorum a valid species, and if so has it been reported in the U.S.? The 2013 paper would seem to indicate that the taxa has not been sunk.
The specimen in question is alive and in my care. It differs from the local S. polymorpha by lacking the dark transverse crossbands, having a black head rather than red, and by its overall size being much larger. This specimen is almost exactly 7” in body length.
Also this is not an isolated find, I have found photos of the same species that I have reported on a field herping forum found on a road at night in Imperial County near the Mexican border.
Attached are a few photos of the beast in question in captivity.
One is of it laying a clutch of bright yellow eggs that it then promptly ate.
Thank you for your time,
Assistant Curator/ Museum Administrator [museum phone, address, etc.]
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Wake up sleepy head, you’re living in a dreamworld. [followed by their initials]
Ah, my beliefs aside, I was expecting a little more interest in the specimen.
I can only presume you would distort the information, as creationists do.
Sir, I mean you know [already rattled and misusing a homophone here] disrespect and have no ulterior motives. Although I disagree with many evolutionary interpretations, I agree with many others. I am somewhat used to your reaction to my beliefs when I am dealing with novices in scientific disciplines, but I must say it is out of the ordinary for someone of your stature. I have contacted Jim Berrian of the San Diego Natural History Museum and he is aware of my beliefs, but was very professional and helpful. If it would help you in your research I could possibly provide you with the specimen or field collect another. A range extension is an exciting proposal.
And I mean you no disrespect, as I do not know you. However, I “know creationism” and it is the Big Lie, meant to deceive by distorting the truth. I have been to your museum, and it is shocking in its falsehoods. It is designed to keep the public in ignorance. It is meant to deny the core of what being human means, the ability (and responsibility) to seek the truth. I cannot abide by such treacherous and devious human behavior.
While I deeply disagree with you on every statement that you just made, and truth and honesty are of my core values and the values of Christianity, arguing in this case would likely be counterproductive. Sir, again I do not wish to make enemies or hinder scientific research, my offer still stands for the provision of this species. This may be difficult for you to understand, but I am very much involved in field herpetology and as you can imagine most of my friends and companions in this field are not Christians. Some are devout atheists or agnostics and we still have a good time finding reptiles and amphibians together. I would even be willing to take you to the location that I found this specimen and look for others, but it seems you are probably not interested.
Sorry to waste your time.
I resent your sideways implication that truth and honesty come only out of Christianity, and that creationism has anything to do with Christianity. I am a Christian. Most Christian religions accept evolution. Even the conservative Catholic church embraces evolution — of course, they are blessed to have the Jesuits, who are true intellectuals (some of them are actually great scientists). And no, I am neither Catholic nor do I support the Catholic church — they have their own sickness they are cursed with (though it is probably no more harmful to humanity than is creationism). The point is, belief in evolution is an intellectual matter, not a religious one, and certainly not a Christian one. And what of Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the other myriad religions of the world that accept evolution?? Belief in creationism is a simple choice that an individual makes, and no more; it has nothing to do with the Christianity or religion. It is an intellectual choice, or perhaps I should say a “non-intellectual choice.” It is an expression of willful ignorance. You have made your choice as an individual not to follow the ways of science, scientific investigation, and scientific testing. Instead, you have chosen to follow a leader. And I, a good Christian, have made the choice to believe that the scientific method is the best way to get as close to the truth as possible. I follow a method, not a leader.
By the way, how can you say you believe in “honesty” when your museum’s exhibits are full of ridiculous lies, meant only to deceive the uninformed? One of the most shocking memories I have of your museum is the “fossil car keys” – keys caked with mud alleging to “prove” that fossils are not ancient (after all, cars are not ancient!). Really – do you call that kind of nonsense “honesty.” Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself “teaching” people with such deceit. [initials]
You are not challenging my honestly, my integrity or my intellect, your objections are not exactly new to me.
Would you like to consider the topic that I originally emailed you about?
If not, have a good life.
You too Nathan. Adios.
Well there you have it. Judge for yourself which one of us was more interested in the advancement of science. And which one was trying to cram their belief system down the other’s throat. Consider my original email which mentions nothing about creation other than my email signature. Consider the topic, the species in question represents a possibly significant (up to 800 mile!) range extension! Normally a proposal of this type would be fascinating to someone who works in this specific field of biology. In my final response and attempt to guide the conversation back to the task at hand, I was so rattled that I couldn’t even spell the word “honesty”. I definitely tried to keep my emotions out of the exchange, but the “expert” made no such attempt. This individual who claims to be a Christian, did not bring Christ or the Bible into their reasoning, and obviously does not hold to Matthew 22:39. I wonder if the museum that employs them condones such repugnant behavior. I did not pursue that question, since it is likely that their supervisors will share their viewpoint. If you hold to a biblical worldview, the humanists who currently have a monopoly on public education and the common products of it, will not tolerate your stance. Science has never been the enemy of Christianity, but those that have a stranglehold on it today are another story.
‘Science … is not so much concerned with truth as it is with consensus. What counts as ‘truth’ is what scientists can agree to count as truth at any particular moment in time … [Scientists] are not really receptive or not really open-minded to any sorts of criticisms or any sorts of claims that actually are attacking some of the established parts of the research (traditional) paradigm — in this case neo-Darwinism — so it is very difficult for people who are pushing claims that contradict the paradigm to get a hearing. They’ll find it difficult to [get] research grants; they’ll find it hard to get their research published; they’ll, in fact, find it very hard.’
Professor Evelleen Richards, Science Historian, University of NSW, Australia, Lateline, 9 October 1998, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
For more information:
I was invited to record 5 different presentations on topics of my own choosing.
The topics (and titles for the episodes) are:
Creeping Things of Creation (aired 1/22/16)
Snakes! The Slithering Serpent (aired 2/26/16)
Explore Creation! (aired 4/1/16)
Under-appreciated Creatures (aired 6/24/16)
Remarkable Reptiles (aired 10/14/16)
I am excited to see how God is using the Creeping Things Ministry and it was a tremendous blessing to be on the Creation in the 21st Century Show! Our purpose, whether it is in the Creeping Things DVD Series or in our live animal shows, is to steer your gaze at the creature so that you marvel at the handiwork of the Creator and praise Him!
During these interviews I was able to explain how these creeping creatures fit into God’s creation and to share that message with a national audience! Special thanks to producer/director Kyle Justice of Awesome Science Media for setting up these interviews.
Funny, suspenseful, and entertaining! I highly recommend it! – Trilby Brown Bias
The best video series I have seen on reptiles ever… If you have kids or teenagers interested in creeping things you will want to pick up this series…fun, funny and educational. We LOVED it! – Gina Black
I absolutely love the Creeping Things Video Series! Love it! Every episode is loaded with information and so entertaining. Kids love this stuff. But, this fabulous series is not just for kids. It’s for all ages. I’m a 53 year old mom and I love it! I never knew how to tell the difference between a virtually harmless scorpion and a dangerously venomous one. I do now. I grew up around lizards and never knew that the awesome Horned Toad (my fave) drank from the water gathered on its back… And the list goes on! Just amazing facts! Nathan, God has clearly gifted you with the ability to teach. And I praise God for you all, Nathan, Alma, Aiyana and Ian, and the work you are doing; teaching these amazing facts about these incredible creatures so that we look to and praise the Creator! I highly recommend this series! And, I pray God’s continued blessing on your work. Can’t wait for the next episodes! Keep ’em coming! – Toni Owens
The [Christmas] gift with the largest reaction from the kids. Hope the series will continue for next Christmas. – Phillip Dauben
Informative, engaging, and entertaining video series! Our family thoroughly enjoyed watching, especially since Nathan (with the assistance of his two children!) clearly articulates the amazing characteristics of the many under appreciated creeping creatures. We are really looking forward to future episodes! Highly recommended! – Keith Scott
My grandson was so excited. He’s been wanting these ever since he watched them at the [Creation and Earth History] museum. My grandboys LOVE Creeping Things! – June McGreevy
Creeping Things is an excellent and educational series for the whole family. My kids love seeing the real animals (me too) and learning their purpose as designed by God. I appreciate not having to worry about evolution being pushed on my children and am thrilled more videos are in the making! – Rhanda Smith
What a fantastic, creative, educational and more importantly, Biblical series. Creeping Things is like the Discovery Channel meets Biblical reality. This series is not only refreshing for our society, it’s great for kids ages 0-105 (and up). It’s a blessing for the purpose of Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God). – Cody Hug
Awesome videos! What a refreshing look at God’s amazing creation! My boys love these videos tons!! Us too! Very informative and educational as well! – Kaitlyn Owens
Our kids loved the videos! They even chose the creeping things video over the Bernstein Bears! That is saying a lot! – Amber de la Motte
Personally, being from Florida… most of our creeping things are poisonous thus I am not the biggest fan; however after watching The Creeping Things Video Series, it gave me a new perspective on God’s creatures that creep along the ground! This series was educational and entertaining, I would suggest it to anyone… both those who enjoy creeping things and those who don’t, because either way… your appreciation for that which God has created will grow after watching this video series! I know mine did! Glory to God! – Steven Policastro Jr.
Inexpensive, an awesome series, kids will love it, and even adults will learn in a fun an intriguing way! Why allow your kids to watch what the networks think they should watch, when they can learn while having fun?!? – Jd Johnson
The Creeping Things film series was a hit for our family movie night! It was a blessing to see our son connect God’s Word with His workmanship through these exciting, educational and fun-filled animal adventures! Thank you Creeping Things for your partnership in ministry and for using your God given talents to encourage future generations of Biblical truths. We are excited about future Creeping Things programs at the Creation & Earth History Museum and look forward to educating more people through God’s created creatures. – Jayson Payne
My family loves Creeping Things! We have purchased all three DVDs. The DVDs really bring to my grandchildren’s attention that there is even a purpose for the creation of creepy things and the expression on my grandchildren’s face when they hear that truth is priceless. Thank you Creeping Things for your faithfulness to the Lord and spreading truth too many! – Stacey and Joe Gaona
The “Creeping Things” video series is fun and exciting, taking you into the field for an up-close look. I love the fact that throughout the DVDs his family plays an integral part in the exploration and discovery. I recently invited Nathan onto my television program, Creation in the 21st Century, where he spoke about reptiles and other creatures, even bringing live animals onto the set! Nathan is a knowledgeable guy with a sincere heart for sharing God’s awesome creations. – David Rives
Thank you, Nathan, Alma, Aiyana, Ian for an incredible 4 weeks of Creeping Things! I thank the Lord He’s equipped you, Nathan, with the ability to clearly, articulately shed some light on these amazing critters. Your sessions were not only filled with info, they were quite entertaining as well. Really enjoyed this series. The Designer of these critters is clearly the focus of your work. I praise God for you all. Praying his continued blessing on this work. – Prospect Avenue Baptist Church
If you’ve seen the Creeping Things DVDs and would like us to feature your review, please leave a comment below or on the Creeping Things Video Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/creepingthingsDVD/
Here is another great article from Answers in Genesis
Eastern Box Turtles
by Gordon Wilson on June 7, 2011; last featured November 2, 2014
Linger a few minutes too long in subzero weather, and you’ll “freeze to death.” But our loving Creator gave certain intrepid animals, which are forced to winter in the cold, their own antifreeze. They can literally be “frozen alive” and emerge unharmed.
After my family moved to northern Idaho, I recalled fond memories of my childhood back East. When a high-school friend told me he was planning to visit the East coast, I asked him to bring back a living reminder of my past—a box turtle. He obliged and brought a beautiful male specimen, which I named “Waldo Pepper.”
I built an outdoor pen in which Waldo puttered about throughout the summer. When winter approached, he dug a shallow burrow to prepare for the cold. I piled autumn leaves over him and covered everything with a small tarp. It can get bitterly cold in Idaho, but that winter was unusually frigid. I remember it dipped down to 30°F below zero (-34°C).
When spring came, I must admit that I wasn’t hopeful to find Waldo alive. On the first warmish day I anxiously scraped away the leaves. I saw the top of his shell, barely below ground level. “He didn’t dig deep enough,” I worried. “He’s sure to be dead.” I touched his shell and to my delight it lurched as he moved within. He had made it through that wintery blast!
I knew box turtles “hibernated,” but I had no clue how he could survive being frozen alive. It didn’t matter to me. Waldo was alive and well!
Uncovering the Turtle’s Secret
If you’re native to the eastern half of the United States, you’re probably familiar with the eastern box turtle. During the summer you’ll see them lumbering across roads, or if you have a keen eye, you’ll spot them blending in among the jumble of yellow, red, and brown leaves on the forest floor.
Males may be looking for a mate while females are looking for a place to lay eggs, or they may simply be hunting for a nice snack of beetles, worms, slugs, berries, or mushrooms, or for a good place to dig in for the night.
However, when winter’s chill approaches, you probably won’t see them anymore, even if you look hard. They’re dug in for the winter, riding out the cold and storms within their icy burrows.
GOD EQUIPPED THEM WITH ANTIFREEZE!
Box turtles truly take “hibernation” to another level.1 What special provision enables these four-legged tanks to endure subzero weather in such woefully shallow burrows? The answer sounds almost like science fiction. God equipped them with antifreeze!
When a box turtle begins to experience chillier temperatures, its liver releases lots of glucose (a simple sugar) into the bloodstream. The sugar is then concentrated in various organs and acts as a sort of biological antifreeze. The places that are the most protected are the liver, heart, and blood serum. The brain and eyes are also filled with glucose.
Meanwhile, water is moved out of the cells and into body cavities, where it is allowed to freeze. The high glucose and low water levels prevent ice crystals from forming within cells. (Ice crystals would spell doom for cells because they puncture their membranes.)
So where does the ice form? Some researchers found ice packed around the brain, leg muscles, and in the body cavities around and between other organs. Even the lungs become icy chunks of tissue. When temperatures get really frigid, even the heart stops beating!
Another study found that up to 58% of the turtle’s body water could be frozen solid for at least 73 hours. It’s like a temporary “death” without decay. Once the turtle thaws out, it appears to be no worse for the wear. When spring arrives, the various organs gradually “come back to life.” This is kind of a “death and resurrection” every winter and spring.
The Main Danger Today
In eternity past—before God created the first turtles and humans—He knew that Adam would sin and bring a curse upon His world. Weather would fluctuate wildly, especially after the Flood, so box turtles and all other creatures would need to be prepared for the extremes.
Designed for Defense
Eastern box turtles are land turtles and can’t escape threats the way many river and pond turtles do. These water turtles can simply plop into the water. But since box turtles don’t usually have that option, God has equipped them with other protective measures.
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. Even though they are well camouflaged, box turtles are not invisible. Predators do find them, and of course land turtles can’t sprint to safety. So God has equipped them with a suit of armor (the upper and lower shells). The lower shell, or plastron, is hinged so that the front and back can seal tight against the upper shell (left). Meanwhile, the turtle’s head, legs, and tail are tucked safely away.
Although we live in a fallen world where many animals face the ever-present threat of extinction, God has graciously equipped His creatures to be downright durable. In most cases, each kind of creature possesses enough “tricks up its sleeve” to endure the worst extremes various habitats might offer. Even when critters are relocated (like Waldo’s move to Idaho), they can often endure harsher conditions.
Despite their God-given toughness, many creatures face another serious threat. Though God told mankind to be a good steward of His creation, at times humans can become its worst enemy. Many times we unnecessarily damage habitats beyond what creatures can endure.
Box turtles, for example, are slow movers, slow to mature, and limited in the distances they typically travel. They do not reproduce until age seven or so, and even then they typically lay three to four eggs at a time.
So whenever humans cut down forests and build towns and roads, it is more difficult for a turtle to find food, a mate, and a safe place to nest. Road crossing is very risky business for a turtle, and countless turtles are killed each year trying to attempt it.
I did my PhD research on the reproduction of the eastern box turtle, and one interesting fact I discovered is that females often travel well outside their wooded “stomping grounds” to forest edges, fields, and yards to lay eggs.
Females loaded with eggs are more likely to attempt dangerous road crossings in their effort to find a suitable nest site. So it is generally unwise to release a pet box turtle anywhere except where it was caught (even woods containing other box turtles). Why? The turtle will often instinctively try to return home, crossing every road in its way. Unwittingly, we stack the deck against the turtle’s survival.
God cares about the welfare of animals. Do you remember why He had Noah fill the Ark with animals? “To keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth” (Genesis 7:3, NIV). The fact that He gave His creatures so many amazing designs for survival, such as antifreeze, reinforces how much He cares about them. If He cares so much for His creatures, shouldn’t we, as appointed stewards of His creation, do the same (Genesis 1:26)?
J. P. Costanzo and D. L. Claussen, “Natural Freeze Tolerance in the Terrestrial Turtle, Terrapene carolina,” Journal of Experimental Zoology 254:228–232.
J. P. Costanzo, R. E. Lee, Jr., and M. F. Wright, “Physiological Responses to Freezing in the Turtle Terrapene carolina,”Journal of Herpetology 27:117–120.
C. K. Dodd, North American Box Turtles: A Natural History (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).
K. B. Storey et al., “Freezing Survival and Metabolism of Box Turtles, Terrapene carolina,” Copeia 1993 (3): 628–634.