This week at Science Mystery Monday, we hear from Dr. John Ashton as he explores some mysteries of animal behavior that can't be explained by science, but are ordained by the creator.
A few Mondays ago, we considered the astounding migration of the monarch, because it is such a long journey over vastly differing terrain by a relatively small insect with a very small brain. There are many other examples in nature which amaze biologists.
Consider the behavior of European cuckoos. Cuckoos are well known for the fact that they lay their eggs in nests other than their own. The young are hatched and reared by birds of other species, and never see their parents. Towards the end of the summer, the adult cuckoos migrate to their winter habitat in Southern Africa. About a month later, the young cuckoos congregate together and then they also migrate to the appropriate region of Africa where they join their elders.1
How do these young birds, many of whom have been raised by non migrating birds, know how to migrate? How do they know when to migrate and when to reorganize with other young cuckoos? How do they know in which direction they should fly and where their destination is?
Phenomena such as these are so common that we usually take for granted that scientists know how animals can do such marvelous things, when in fact these remain mysteries which science cannot explain.
Consider, for example, how spiders are able to spin complex webs to the same pattern which is appropriate for their species without learning from other spiders. Readers may find numerous other examples in the fascinating book Animal Architecture.2
In fact, the problem of how do the animals ‘know’ is so widespread that Dr Rupert Sheldrake, a former research fellow at Cambridge University, and Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology from 1967 to 1973, has suggested that the universe and all its creatures are dominated by a biological field which is responsible for among other things, the instinctive behavior in animals.3 Of course the Bible tells us in the book of Job that it is God who ordains these amazing animal behaviors.
1/ M. Ricard, The Mystery of Animal Migration, Constable, London, 1969.
2/ K. Von Frisch, Animal Architecture, Hutchinson, London, 1975.
3/ R. Sheldrake ‘A New Science of Life, Paladin, London, 1987.
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