Two Hyraxes, photo credit: Arikk

Coneys, Rock Badgers, Hyraxs. What kind of critter are those?

The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; Proverbs 30:26

Growing up, I never could picture what these animals looked like.  None of the English names we have for these guys meant anything to me since I’d never seen one. If you look up Coney with an online dictionary, it will tell you that a coney is a fish (try to picture fish building a house in the rocks!). My kid’s dictionary says that ‘Coney’ is a different way of spelling ‘Cony’ which is a European Rabbit.
So, now you know why I was so confused, but…

What are they really like?

Two Hyraxes, photo credit: ArikkTurns out that the Biblical Coney, aka Rock Badgers, aka Hyrax is something that looks more like a ground hog! When I went to look them up last year, I realized that I had just read a story about their African cousins, The 3 Little Dassies, by Jan Brett*. Although in Africa they are known as Dassies, the most common name for them in English now is Hyrax [hi-raks]. The ones living in Israel are part of the Syrian Rock Hyrax family.

Studying this has been really fun, because the first thing I saw on the African Wildlife Foundation page is that they don’t fit neatly into any group of animals. Some Evolutionists say that they are really close relatives of elephants, sea cows, and manatees!! Now, that is pretty crazy. God defi

Rock Hyrax Range

nitely has a way of throwing wrenches into people’s neat “tree of life” machines.

 

From the picture, you can see that hyraxes look kind of like marmots, mongooses, and ground hogs.

They have short, thick, brownish fur that can range from light grey in the desert, to almost orange in southern Israel, to dark brown in greener areas.  They have small ears and thick bodies. Grown up Hyraxs weight around 9lbs and are about 20ins long, so they’re a little smaller than a ground hog.

Hyrax colony on rocks, photo credit: ArikkUnlike these other animals, Hyraxs don’t dig deep burrows. The places they choose for homes already have piles of rocks and crevasses to live in. They keep their homes tidy by deciding on one spot to use as a bathroom so the rest stays clean.

Hyraxs love to live in groups that range from 10 to as many as 80 members. Like prairie dogs, they post a sentry (usually the dad) to keep an eye out for danger while the rest find food. If the sentry spys danger, he will call a high pitched alarm and they all scurry into their hiding places among the rocks. This protection works so well that it is rare for one to be eaten by the south Judean wolves.

Singing is a favorite pastime for Hyraxes. They seem to let each other know how they’re feeling and keep in touch with neighboring groups with all kinds of whistles, twitters, shrieks, and growls. The Tree Hyraxs of Africa are nocturnal, so they keep all the neighbors awake at night with their squeals and screams.

To stay near the protection of their dens, Hyraxs only venture out about 150ft from their homes to look for food. They’re vegetarians, eating whatever kinds of plants they can find, especially grass and leaves. They have incisor teeth that are nearly tusks (that’s part of why people think Hyraxs are so close to elephants) to chew on tough plant parts.

Desert Hyraxs get most of their water from the plants they eat. They can climb trees and will get into people’s gardens to munch the citrus leaves there. They also will eat insects and grubs.

Hyrax in an Israeli tree, photo credit: Yael & Amihay

A mother Hyrax is pregnant for 6-7 months before giving birth to two or three babies. Compare that to a rabbit who only takes a month to pop out 4-12 babies! Baby Hyraxs are born with their eyes open and lots of fur to protect them. They start running around at just an hour old and try out the veggies within a day or two. They take over a year to grow up, while a rabbit only takes 6-7 months, but both animals live about the same length of time- about 10-12 years.

Hyraxs are a ‘lazy’ bunch. They spend about 95% of the time lying around. During the day they spend most of the time basking in the sun. Even though Hyraxs are mammals, they can’t keep their bodies constantly warm like we do. They get warmer and cooler with the day and night, so lying in the sun helps warm them like a snake.

Not surprisingly, the fossil record shows that before the Flood there were a lot more varieties of Hyraxs.  It shows that they lived in more places including Europe. And (guess what!) some of them were really big, “about the size of a small horse”!! Wow, that’s a big furry critter!

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25

Other websites I used to build this post:

Israeli Mammals

and a stop by Wikipedia, which is pretty decent on these animals (the pictures are from them)

*The Amazon link to 3 Little Dassies is an affiliate link. If you purchase anything from Amazon after clicking it, I get a percentage of the sale to support this ministry.

Aardvark at a zoo, Wikicommons

Aardvarks: Unique, Unchanging, Cool

Aardvark

Aardvark (Photo credit: Marie Hale)

Did you know the aardvark is a Living Fossil? Not only do they show up low in the fossil record for a land animal, they haven’t changed much since then.

Are we surprised?

You hear about aardvarks a little more than echidnas (outside of Australia) perhaps because their name works so well in dictionary searches, but do you know very much about them?

We’ve found enough fossils to know aardvarks used to come in more varieties than we see today and lived in a much wider area (fossils have been found in Africa, Europe and Asia). It’s a good thing for Africa’s ecology that some survived to repopulate it.

English: Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) range

Aardvark range

Aardvarks are known for two things: their taste for ants and termites and their digging skills. It’s said they can smell a lion coming and dig a hole big enough to protect their up to 5 ft [150 cm], 150 lb [68 kg]  body by the time it gets there. That’s some fast and powerful digging!

Aardvark dens can be up to 30 ft [9 m] long with the largest having several round rooms and multiple entrances. Their ears are designed to fold back to stay clean and out of the way as they climb inside. They spend the hot day curled up inside and head out to search for food in the evening.

But most aardvarks travel for days searching for food, so they’ll dig a quick burrow wherever they end up and settle in for a night or two.  When they move on, other creatures move in. This is one of the main reasons they are considered important to the ecology of Africa.

Aardvark and juvenile. Deutsch: Erdferkel mit ...

That pig-like snout is extra interesting. It has lots of long hairs to help keep out dust plus flaps of skin to cover them during furious digging. An aardvark’s eyes don’t work too well, but their nose sure does. They walk in a zigzag up to 120ft [36m] sniffing for moving ants or nests. When they find a nest and start digging, they close the flaps to keep bugs from crawling in. Although, one website says they just snuffle any insects that make it up there for dessert. Eeew!

Usually, aardvarks collect their lunch with their tongue. It’s over a foot [30 cm] long and covered with gooey saliva. When the ants or termites try to escape through the hole in their nest, they get gobbled by the 1,000. Some aardvarks have been known to eat over 50,000 bugs in a day.

Aardvarks can break open a cemented termite nest better than a man with a pickax could do it. But, they only eat termites when there aren’t enough ants. During the rainy season, the termites are safe, but the ants have much to fear.

When things dry out, another resident of central Africa gets some vital help, the aardvark cucumber. This unusual plant grows its fruit underground where it would be hard to find for most animals, but that’s no problem for the aardvark! After eating the pulp and seeds whole, another habit of this animal kicks in. They are neat and clean and make sure their stinky gets covered up well. It’s like they were programmed to be the plant’s gardeners!

An aardvark mom gives birth to a roughly 4 lb [2 kg] baby after about 8 months of waiting. The little one stays with its mother for 6 months (if it’s a boy) to 2 years. Girls stay with their mom until a new baby comes along; then, it’s off to the solitary life of the typical aardvark.

Aardvark’s are specially designed to fit in well where they live. They are a little piece in the giant web of life God planned for filling the whole world. Let’s praise and honor the One smart and powerful enough to create them and set them in place!

Lord, all living things depend on you.
    You give them food at the right time.
You give it, and they eat it.
    They are filled with good food from your open hands. Psalm 104:27,28 Easy-to-read Version

Just wait til you see the quotes I’ve collected, too!

Besides the websites already linked, the zoo keepers journal has lots more information about aardvarks

Pyramids of Giza, Wikimedia

Quotes: Atlatl

Carved atlatl at the National Museum of Anthro...

Carved atlatl at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

To go with the article Ancient Technology: Atlatl, Super Weapon

Quote from Atlatl.com, “The great innovation of Atlatl weights in the evolution of this technology bears the mark of true genius.”

Now that’s the right way to use the word Evolution!  It comes about by the application of intelligence.  In biology, Infinite Genius took no time at all to arrive at the best possible solution to the desired result.

Quote from Ingenium: Atlatl, “It seems that archaeologists had concluded that the atlatl really wasn’t a very good weapon. But when Bob started actually working with them he learned that by using a flexible dart instead of the rigid darts that the professional archaeologists had been using, the atlatl was revealed to be a very efficient weapon indeed.”

Once more we see that Evolutionary, ‘we’re the best there’s ever been,’ thinking turns out to be backwards.  The “primitives” were way smarter than Darwinian archeology gave them credit for.

Quotes from Dons Maps: Atlatl, “It launches projectiles at high speeds, kills at 40 metres and can even be fitted with a silencer. Kurt Kleiner reveals the surprising sophistication of a 25 000 year old weapon.”

Does it surprise you?  It doesn’t surprise me!  Check out what the same article says about modern engineers,

“he is one of a group of people who have been studying the mechanics of this primitive weapon and found it to be surprisingly sophisticated. Using modern engineering concepts and experimental techniques, they are rediscovering ancient construction methods that make subtle but important improvements to the weapon’s performance.”

I suppose this would have to be classified as “Paleo”mimicry?

Again from Dons Maps,

“According to archaeological evidence, the atlatl first made its appearance between 25 000 and 40 000 years ago in the region that today encompasses Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.”

But the World Atlatl site says that there is no proof of Atlatl use in Africa.  And Daryl Hrdlicka of the Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site says,

” While it was used extensively in North and South America, Australia, and Indonesia, the rest of the world seems to have missed it. Except for a few artifacts found in France, it’s not found in Europe; except for some Siberian Aleuts, it’s not found in Asia; and except for some references in Sumerian, it’s not found in Africa. These cultures seemed to go directly from spears to the bow.”

I think I’ll pass this on to my Ice Age collecting colleague, because many sites say the same thing as Dons Maps!

Also from Dons Maps,

“‘The physics and math is all in here,’ Perkins says, weighing an atlatl in his hand at a recent workshop on primitive technology held near Phoenix, Arizona. ‘It really impresses me, the ability of these ancient people to be able to do this. They certainly didn’t have calculus. Wave mechanics, they didn’t know that. But they knew intuitively.'”

Prove they didn’t know it! Which is easier, wave mechanics or earth wobble geometry? They knew how to measure the earth, build ocean going vessels and make accurate world maps, why not wave calculus?

I ran into a technical article on how precise you have to be in the size and length of dart points and shafts to keep your weapon effective.  Here is Bob Perkin’s closing statement, “A complete understanding  of this impressively complex weapon must be achieved before any single component can be properly analyzed. So long as it is thought of and referred  to a “spear thrower” that will never happen.”

This same guy had this to say about these people,

“I’ve made the study of atlatls and the technology they represent my life work.  Every time I think that I have learned or discovered nearly all there is to know about the physics of this most ancient of weapon systems, something new arises and I am humbled again by the obvious sophistication of the ancient mind.  Ancient people were every bit as intelligent as we are today. In fact H we were able to go back in time we would find a species as capable and intelligent as ourselves. Simply because we live in an age of super computers doesn’t mean that we possess the license to label primitive technology as crude or to claim that every idea we come up with today is original.”

Woo hoo! Whose Worldview is being proven accurate this time?

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.  Isaiah 45:9-12

The Mysterious Okapi

 

An Okapi. Taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom by ...[cryptozoology: krip-toe-zoo-ah-luh-gee, the study of evidence tending to substantiate the existence of, or the search for, creatures whose reported existence is unproved, as the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness monster.]

OK, I’m cheating a little on my definition because the scientific community has known about the Okapi [oh-cop-ee] for over a hundred years now, but they were in this group until 1900!

European explorers in Africa began hearing tales of an unknown creature deep in the jungle.  In 1861, a book by Phillip Gosse talked about a mysterious horned animal the locals had told him about.  Soon people began to imagine that there was an “African Unicorn.”  Then in 1887, Sir Henry Stanley, of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume!” fame, wrote a book called In Darkest Africa.  He mentioned tales of a strange, donkey-like creature in the rainforest.

English: Sir

Sir Stanley

Finally, in 1900, Sir Harry Johnston, who was the British governor of Uganda, decided to find out about this animal.  He talked to Stanley about where it was known to live, and then he helped to rescue some pygmy men who were being stolen away to show at the Paris World’s Fair.  In return for his help, the men answered his questions about the animal, told him they called it the “O’api” and got him some small pieces of hide with stripes on them.

To Johnston’s surprise, when the men showed him Okapi tracks, the hooves were split like a cow’s.  He even wondered if they were deceiving him!  Johnston had to abandon the search when everyone came down with malaria, so he asked some Belgian soldiers to send him specimens ASAP and headed back to his base.  When two skulls and a skin arrived (along with a description of it’s cloven hooves), they discovered that the Okapi was much more like a giraffe than a horse.  The Okapi was now officially known to science.

Okapi

Okapi Habitat Zone

The Okapi is still very hard for us to study in their natural habitat.  I found some articles rejoicing that they finally captured photos of wild Okapis in Virunga National Park in the highlands of the Congo way back in 2006.  They are especially happy because we were worried the Okapi had been wiped out by fighting in that area.If you see an Okapi at the zoo, you would be puzzled by how hard it is to study such a large, colorful animal.  The Okapi of today stands almost 6ft [1.8m] at the shoulder, grows to about 7ft [2.1m] long and can weigh 550lb [250kg].   They have dark, reddish-brown coats up front (which God made nice and oily to keep out the rain) and stripy hind quarters with white socks (which are actually excellent jungle camo).  Daddy Okapis have small horns much like a giraffe, but the Okapi’s flexible neck is much shorter than a giraffe’s so it won’t get tangled in all the branches of its home.

Okapi sandiegoIt is the habits and home area of the Okapi that make them so hard to find.  They live all alone except to mate and raise their young.  Their home is the thick, shady jungle above 500m [1,640ft] in the volcanic highlands of the Congo. To keep from getting all tangled up, Okapis search for food along well-worn pathways that Okapis have been using for a long time.  Except for a few coughing sounds or the whistling cry of a hungry baby Okapi, they are very quiet animals.  The way they let each other know the boundary of their territory is with a tar-like scented stuff that oozes out of their hooves.  They also use that other popular scent marker you already know from watching dogs and cats: urine.

A daddy Okapi will allow ladies through to find food in his territory, but not any other males!  Okapis love their solitude so much that mother Okapis don’t even spend much time with their babies.  They will leave them in a ‘nest,’ like a deer does, and only come around to nurse the little one occasionally.  After about 6 to 9 months, young Okapis go off on their own.

An okapi cleaning its muzzle with its tongue.

An okapi cleaning its muzzle with its tongue.

One of the coolest thing about them is their dark blue tongues that they use to grab leaves and twigs, and even to clean their eyes and ears out!  Okapis also have large sensitive ears that help them keep away from their one predator, the leopard.   All these things make the Okapi one of the hardest land animals to study wild.  It’s a good thing they do well in zoos!For more on the Okapi, have a look at these sites:

Okapi Conservation Project with its history page showing an ancient carving of an Okapi in Persepolis

San Diego Zoo: Okapi

ZooBorns: Okapi with some cute pictures

Living Fossils a Creationist page (it seems we knew about Okapis first in the fossil record)

Beyond Bigfoot: the science of Cryptozoology

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. Psalm 147:7-11

Eskimo Boat Photo

The Ancients Sure Got Around (to the Americas)

This image was first published in the 1 st (18...If you look around on the web to find out how the first people came to live in North and South America, this is the story you are likely to hear:

‘There were many Ice Ages in the past million years and whenever they peaked, the ocean levels dropped. Just because they wanted to, some people decided to leave Asia and walk all the way to Alaska. Some of them kept walking until they got to their present locations all the way down to South America. Slowly, over 1,000s of years they began to get smarter and developed better and better societies. These would last for a while until some natural disaster brought them to an end. The worst disaster was when the Europeans came and brought all kinds of disease with them and slaughtered as many as they could.’

I’m not saying that the Spanish and others were right in what they did to the local people, but there are only tiny grains of truth in the story above. Most of this tale is in the same category as Jack and the Bean Stalk.

olmec - feathered serpent

Olmec – with a dragon (Photo credit: Cåsbr)

Today I’m going to show what we actually know about the first people to arrive in the Americas. In the past few years we’ve been having a lot of fun studying our DNA with the new tools we’ve developed. The puzzles these set are confusing to everybody. Did they arrive as one smaller group around 50,000 years ago? Or were there multiple waves of people coming across the Ice Age land bridge? Does it matter? Well, if you believe that the first humans came from Africa, but were too dumb to build ocean-going boats to cross the Pacific until a thousand years ago, then it does matter. But were we really too stupid to build sturdy, seafaring boats in the years around the only Ice Age there has actually been? If we were, how did we draw maps like these?  And how come this sculpture from the founding of the Olmec civilization of Mexico has Chinese writing on it?

Here’s what the Chinese Writing scholar found written on those posts, “The ruler and his chieftains establish the foundation for a kingdom.” It didn’t say anything about conquering an already existing group of people! And if the Olmecs were really founded before 12,000 BC, why is the carving telling about the first king dated only to c. [around] 3,000 BC? Someone is guessing and trying to fit things into their Worldview.

I’m pretty sure I ran into this information before I found James Nienhuis’ blog, Dancing from Genesis. He covers this as well in these posts from his site:

The Olmecs had Chinese and African connections 

Chinese connections of Olmec Civilization and late founding date

And here are some other sites that talk about the diverse peoples of Ancient America:

A giant Olmecs head in the museum discovered a...

A giant Olmecs head in the museum discovered at an archaeological site in Texistepec, Veracruz

  • Race and History: Ancient America, Black People
  • And some Ancient Caucasians from Cabrillo.edu (one guy looks like Captain Picard)
  • A Really Long Page showing the cultural connections between Ancient Americans and the rest of the world.
  • The National Park service used to have a page admitting that the East Coast Natives were also really good at sailing the ocean. “Prehistoric maritime exploration, probably from South America, resulted in the settling of the Virgin Islands among the northern Leeward Islands, with the initial occupation of the Greater Antilles estimated to have taken place as early as 5000 B.C.” Well, not quite that early, but close enough!

The history of the Human Race doesn’t fit into the neat boxes that Evolutionary Anthropologists want it to. But nothing will ever go against the truth of God’s Word and His eye-witness accounts!

These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.  Genesis 10:32

For more about the Table of Nations read this post: The Nations That God Has Made

Marsh Blooms