OF CREATURES WITHIN THE FAMILY
Some animals remain with
other family members for a very long time, or even for life. Penguins
and swans, for instance, are birds that mate for life. Female elephants
stay together with their mothers and even their grandmothers.25
In mammals, usually the males establish families consisting of females
and their young. But leading a family brings with it many responsibilities.
The male must hunt for food more often, as compared to a single male.
He can easily protect himself, but must take care for and protect the
other family members as well. Guarding the defenseless young often requires
This is an important matter that should be reflected on: Animals make
great efforts to establish their families, to care and provide for them.
To do so, they risk their own lives and forsake an easy life for themselves.
Why should animals choose these harder options?
This tendency completely disproves Darwin's "the fittest survive and
the weaker perish" thesis. As the many examples over the following pages
will demonstrate to the contrary, the weak are often protected by the
strong, who thereby endanger their own lives.
Family Members Recognizing One Another
One prerequisite for social life is that family members can immediately
recognize each other. Even in wide open spaces where animals live side
by side in large colonies, they can recognize their own offspring, mates,
parents, and siblings.
Penguins leave their young together when they
go off hunting. The young huddle together to keep themselves warm.
But how do the parents recognize their young on their return? God
has created the penguins with the ability to recognize one another
by voice, letting penguins easily recognize their identical-looking
mates and young.
Each species has a different method of recognizing
its own. Ground-nesting birds recognize their young's voices as well as
their looks. One example of this are Herring gulls, which raise their
young in huge colonies. Even when their chicks are out of sight, parents
recognize and respond to their calls without ever confusing their calls
with other young gulls'. If a stray young bird trespasses their nesting
spot, they recognize and chase away the intruder.26
Usually mammals recognize their own young by their
smell and taste. As soon as a baby is born, the mother sniffs and licks
it and from then on, never confuses it with any other.27
Among the most successful creatures in this respect are penguins. They
look so alike that when humans observe them carefully, it's almost impossible
to tell them apart. Thus it is so astonishing that the members of a penguin
family can recognize one another with no difficulty. Consider that the
mother leaves her mate and young for a period of two to three months in
order to search for food. Yet on her return, she recognizes them both.
Many mammal species clean their newborn young
by licking them, during which process they also memorize its smell.
Thereafter, they can easily tell their young apart among all other
young of the same species.
Among the hundreds of other penguins, the mother penguin
easily finds her own mate and their chick. More interestingly, before
the adult females set off to go hunting in the sea, they gather all the
young to form a nursery as a precaution against the freezing cold. The
young birds stay closely packed together, taking advantage of one another's
body heat. But there is one problem: How are the adult birds going to
recognize their own young on their return from their hunting trip from
among the hundreds of other birds. This though does not seem to pose a
problem for penguins. Each adult begins to call at high pitch and the
young birds recognize their parents by their sound and move towards them.28
No doubt, recognition by voice is under these circumstances the most appropriate
method for the thousands of penguins. But, how come penguins have the
very same appearance but distinct voices so they can recognize one another?
Furthermore, how did they acquire the skill to distinguish each other
by voice? No penguin could have come up with the idea of such qualities
and skills and then adopt them by themselves. These must be given qualities,
but by whom? According to evolutionists, it is nature-but what part or
feature of it could provide animals with such abilities? The ice on the
poles, maybe? Perhaps the rocks? Obviously neither, because "nature,"
to which evolutionists ascribe this and many other powers consists of
rocks, stones, trees, ice and the like, which are a totality of created
matter. Therefore, the answer to the above question is simple: God creates
everything perfect within itself, gives each penguin a distinct voice
note and the ability to recognize by voice, thereby making their lives
easier for them.
Cozy Nests Built for Offspring
Penduline tits build bottle-shaped nests,
putting in a lot of effort and using a variety of materials to build
the nest, which hangs from a branch.
Nests play an important role in protecting animals, in particular their
young. Many species use a wealth of astonishing techniques to construct
nest with a variety of diverse architectural details. Animals plan often
like architects, working like master builders, finding technical solutions
like engineers, and sometimes adorning their nests like decorators. Often
they work tirelessly, day and night, in constructing their nest. Their
mates often share the workload, and the two assist each another. The nests
most carefully prepared are those built for the expected arrival of the
The various techniques used to build these nests are so perfect that
one would not expect them from animals devoid of intellect and technological
skills. As the following pages will show in great detail, they could not
have been designed by the animals themselves, because they would have
to plan out the many stages of the project before even beginning to build.
First off, they'd have to realize the need for a nest for the safety of
their eggs and young. Next, they'd need to locate the most suitable place
for their nests, since no creature builds its nest just anywhere.
Building materials used in the nest's construction are carefully selected
from those available in the environment. For example, water birds build
nests from plant matter that will float, in case of unexpected flooding.
Birds living among reeds, on the other hand, make their nests wide and
deep, to prevent their eggs from falling out when the reeds bend in the
wind. Birds inhabiting deserts build their nests atop of shrubs and cacti,
where the temperature is 10° C (50° F) lower than on ground level, where
the oven-like 45° C (113° F) heat would kill the young birds in a very
Choosing the right location for a nest requires knowledge as well as
intelligence. An animal cannot foresee the risks of flooding, or the danger
that high temperatures pose for young birds-much less how to prevent their
adverse effects. We are faced, then, with a paradox: On the one hand,
animals of little intelligence and no knowledge and, on the other, behavior
that is conscious, intelligent and knowledgeable. God is the owner of
consciousness, intelligence, and knowledge; and expresses these qualities
in His perfect creations.
"God created you from dust and then from a
drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female becomes pregnant
or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives
long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That
is easy for God."
(Qur'an, 35: 11)
The healthy survival of their offspring is vitally important for all
living species; and from the moment of laying their eggs or giving birth
to their young, protecting them becomes the parents' sole occupation.
The penduline tit, paying utmost attention to the safety of its offspring,
builds a number of dummy nests in the vicinity of its real nest, to divert
the attention of any hungry enemy. This diversion strategy, obviously
the result of careful planning, couldn't possibly be the product of the
penduline tit's own intellect.
One of the most common methods birds use to protect a nest from predators
is to build it in a thorny bush or camouflage it among dry leaves. Some
species, in order to protect the female and her eggs, wall off the entrance
to their nest structure with mud while she is inside, or else mix their
saliva with soil to form a sort of mortar they use to build a wall covering
These can hardly be skills those animals could develop on their own.
What, then, enables these birds and other animals to build nests so intricate
and perfectly designed? How do animals acquire these skills?
Another detail should not be disregarded. At birth, every animal possesses
the knowledge of building its characteristic nest. Every member of that
species, wherever on Earth it might be, builds its nest in the same way.
This clearly shows that creatures did not learn their nest-building methods
or acquire them in any casual sort of way, but that this knowledge and
skill was given them by the same power. God, the All-knowing and All-powerful,
creates them together with their skills and gives them this knowledge.
Quite aside from their architectural perfection, the extraordinary dedication
that parents invest in building their nests is certainly worth noticing.
Whereas birds build ordinary nests for themselves, they build ones for
their offspring with the utmost care. Considering the different phases
involved in nest building, we can better understand the scale of the efforts
birds put into it, the energy they invest and the selflessness of their
behavior. To build its nest, a bird can carry only a few twigs or grass
stalks at a time in its beak, and so must make hundreds of flights to
gather the building materials it requires. But this does not discourage
the bird. It continues to forage patiently. It never becomes frustrated,
never settles for less, is never too tired or lazy to complete its nest
in every last detail.
According to Darwin's natural selection theory, these animals should
be concerned only with themselves. In an environment where only the fittest
and strongest could succeed in the battle for survival, would animals
exhaust themselves so that their vulnerable offspring could survive? What
could explain their preparing in advance a secure environment for the
arrival of their vulnerable young? Natural selection cannot answer these
questions; neither can the theory of evolution, nor any other atheist
ideology. These questions have one answer only: God gives to these animals
dedication, patience, endurance, persistence and ambition. God instills
them with these qualities so that the strong can protect the weak, so
that natural balances can continue and these species can exist until their
appointed times and can become living signs of God's artistry, power,
wisdom and the superiority of His creation.
Subsequent pages will give examples of animals renowned for their architectural
and decorative skills. Eggs and later on, the young birds that hatch from
them are vulnerable in the extreme, and especially in need of protection.
Therefore, God directs their parents to build them exactly the right type
How do Birds Build Their Spectacular Constructions?
Birds are the ultimate nest-builders. Each different species has its
own unique nest-building techniques and constructs these structures without
ever getting confused.
When the parent birds leave the nest to search for food, their offspring
are completely defenseless. Their nests that are concealed with great
skill in treetops, holes in trees and cliffs, or even amidst tall grass,
provide a safe, hidden shelter for the chicks.
Another purpose of the nests is to provide protection
from the cold. Birds are hatched featherless, and since their muscles
do not get exercised within the egg, they are relatively immobile and
thus need nests to insulate them from the cold. Woven nests in particular
trap body heat, providing warmth for the chicks-but constructing these
structures is a detailed and difficult undertaking. The female builds
the nest by carefully weaving grasses, twigs, and scavenged yarn over
a fairly long period of time. She cushions the inside with feathers, hair
and fine grass, thereby further insulating the nest.29
For every type of nest, finding the right building materials is essential.
Birds can spend a whole day in their quest for the building materials
their structure needs. Their beaks and talons are designed for carrying
and arranging the materials they gather. The male bird chooses the location
of the nest, and the female builds it.
These nests' features depend on the materials and techniques used in
their construction. All building materials for their architectural masterworks
must be pliable and compressible. Nests are built taking into account
the elasticity, durability and toughness of the different materials birds
use-mud, leaves, feathers, cellulose and the like. This increases the
structure's durability. Using plant fibers mixed with mud, for instance,
prevents cracks from developing.
First, birds mix the mortar from the materials they
gather. One species that uses this technique is the cliff swallow, which
builds its nests on cliffs and the walls of buildings, using mud as an
adhesive to glue their nests together. They gather mud and feathers and
transport them in their beaks to the construction site, where they mix
mud with their saliva, smearing the mixture against the face of the cliff
to form a pot-shaped structure with a round opening on top. This structure
they fill with grass, moss, and feathers. Usually they build these structures
in cavities under overhanging cliffs, to prevent rain from softening and
thus destroying the nest.30
Some South African birds like the penduline-tit build
nests comprised of two compartments. The real entrance to the brooding
chamber is concealed, while the other entrance is readily visible, presenting
a false doorway to any predators.31
The oropendola, a large and quite distinctive bird,
builds its nest next to the those of wasps, which automatically keep snakes,
monkeys, toucans and botflies (a type of fly deadly for these birds),
from approaching their nests.32 In this way, the oropendola
protects its young from the dangers that all these creatures pose for
The "Stitched" Nests of Tailor Birds
The tailor bird of India has a beak
like a sewing needle. As thread, it uses silk from cobwebs, cotton from
seeds, and fibers of tree bark. This bird selects two or more large green
leaves growing close together at the end of a branch and pulls them together.
It then punches holes along the edges of each leaf, and pulls the spider
silk or plant fiber through the holes to sew the leaves together, finally
tying knots in each stitch to keep it from slipping. It does the same
on the other side, stitching the leaves together, taking approximately
six stitches to curve a leaf around. Eventually the bird fills this resulting
purse with grass.33 Finally, it weaves another nest
into the purse, where the female will lay her eggs.34
Naturalists consider these birds' nests to be the most astonishing structures
built by birds. This species uses plant fibers and tall plant stems to
weave themselves extremely solid nests.
The thornbill's nest lies between two leaves.
Like tailor birds, they use their beaks as needles and spider silk
Tailor birds skillfully stitch leaves together, using their beaks
as needles, and plant fibers or spider silk as yarn to make cozy
First of all, a weaver bird collects the building materials.
It will cut long strips from leaves or extract the midrib from a fresh
green leaf. There is a reason for its choice of fresh leaves: The veins
of dry leaves would be stiff and brittle, too difficult to bend, but fresh
ones make the work much easier. The weaver bird begins by tying the leaf
fibers around the twig of a tree. With its foot, it holds down one end
of the strip against the twig while taking the other end in its beak.
To prevent the fibers from falling away, it ties them together with knots.
Slowly it forms a circular shape that will become the entrance to the
nest. Then it uses its beak to weave the other fibers together. During
the weaving process, it must calculate the required tension, because if
it's too weak, the nest will collapse. Also it needs to be able to visualize
the finished structure, since while building the walls, it must determine
where the structure needs to be widened.35
Once it finishes weaving the entrance, it proceeds
to weave the walls. To do so, it hangs upside down and keeps on working
from the inside of the structure. It will push one fiber under another
and pull it along with its beak, until it accomplishes a stunning weaving
Inspired by God, weaver birds build themselves
spectacular nests. Above and Right: The stages of nest building.
First, the bird tears off thin strips of leaf. Then it begins to
build the nest by pressing the end of the strip onto the branch
with one foot, while weaving the other end with its beak. As these
pictures show, it uses its beak as a shuttle, threading a single
plant fiber alternately over and under other strips. Left: A weaver
bird finishing its nest.
Some weaver birds live in colonies, building themselves nests to
shade them from the scorching heat of the sun.
The weaver bird won't just begin building its nest. It proceeds by calculating
in advance what it needs to do next-first, collecting the most suitable
building materials, then forming the entrance before going on to build
the walls. It knows perfectly well where to thin or thicken the structure,
and where to form a curve. Its behavior displays intelligence and skill,
with no trace of inexperience. With no training, it can do two things
at once-holding down one end of the fiber with its feet, while guiding
the other end with its beak. None of its movements is coincidental; its
every action is conscious and purposeful.
Another member of the weaver bird family builds a solid, rainproof nest.
This bird obtains the perfect mortar by gathering plant fibers from the
environment and mixing them with its saliva, which gives the plant fibers
both elasticity and makes them waterproof.
Weaver birds repeat this process until their nest is complete. It's no
doubt impossible to claim that they have acquired these skills unconsciously,
by chance. These birds construct their nests like an architect, construction
engineer, and site foreman all rolled into one.
Another interesting example of nest building is performed
by sociable weaver birds of southern Africa, which nest in a single huge,
cooperatively built structure with separate entrances. With the ingenuity
of accomplished architects, sociable weavers build these nests, some of
which are home to as many as 600 birds.37
When it comes to nest building, why does this species choose the more
complex over the easier option? Can we possibly ascribe to chance the
fact that they can build such complex nest structures all by themselves?
Surely not-like all other creatures in nature, they too act by the directives
The cloud swifts build their nests behind
waterfalls, on rocks that no other animal can reach.
Some birds hide their nests underground. Bank swallows,
for instance, dig long tunnels in the sides of steep slopes along rivers
and shorelines. They slant their tunnels at an upwards angle to prevent
them being flooded with rainwater; and at the end of each tunnel is a
grass- and feather-lined nesting chamber.38
The cloud swifts of South America build their nests behind waterfalls,
even though it is almost impossible for birds to penetrate waterfalls.
Hawks, herons, gulls or crows cannot manage to break through the fast-falling
water. One would expect any bird attempting this feat to be crushed in
mid-air under the tons of water. But these swifts are very small and fly
fast enough that they can shoot through the waterfall like arrows. Their
chosen nesting sites are safe, because no other animal dares try to reach
However, these swifts do have problem in gathering
building materials for their nests. Their feet are too small to let them
pick up materials from the ground, as other birds do. So instead, they
catch feathers, fragments of dried grass and such materials that float
in the air. Then they stick them to the cliffs behind the waterfalls with
spittle from their salivary glands.39
Cave swiftlets inhabiting the shores of the Indian
Ocean build their nests in caves. Each wave breaking against the shore
completely floods the entrance to the cave. That is why these birds can
sometimes be seen hovering above the waves outside a cave, waiting for
the foaming water to recede, so that they can dart into the cave. Before
they begin to build their nests, swiftlets determine the highest water
level by observing the marks that water leaves on the walls around the
cave entrance, and then build their nests above that.40
The long-legged secretary bird of
Africa builds its nest in prickly thorn trees to protect it from predators.
Woodpeckers in the American Southwest drill nesting holes in the stems
of giant cactus plants;41 while the marsh wrens, on
the other hand, prepares dummy nests. While the female is building the
real nest for their young, the male wren flies around the marsh, building
the decoy nests that will draw predators' attention away from their real
Almost every species of bird is greatly dedicated to its young. To mate,
albatrosses always return to their place of birth, where they form huge
colonies. Weeks before the females arrive, the males restore last season's
old nests to provide a comfortable abode for the coming young. Albatrosses'
dedication to their eggs is remarkable, inasmuch as they sit for 50 days
without getting up.
Albatrosses build protective
nests for their young. Weeks before the female birds arrive on the
nesting site, the males come to restore and repair the old nests.
Nor is their dedication limited to protecting and caring
for their eggs. Often they fly distances of over 1,500 km-a thousand miles-to
gather food for their chicks.43
The male hornbill walls up his mate and eggs
in a hole in a tree and looks after them there.
For the hornbill, the mating season heralds the beginning of great activity.
During this period, both males and females make an outstanding performance.
The first thing they need to do is build a safe nest for the female and
The female hornbill starts work by finding a suitable
hole in a tree that will shelter the nest. She narrows the opening on
the tree by plastering it with pellets of mud she carries in her beak.
After entering the nest through the narrowed hole, she seals the entrance
with mud that has dropped inside, thus reducing the gap to a beak-size
slit. This will protect the female and their offspring from external dangers,
particularly from snakes. After the nest is finalized, the female sits
for three months without once leaving the nest. The male gathers food
and feeds his mate through this small opening. When the young hatch, they
too are fed by the same way.44 Both birds are very patient
and dedicated to their offspring. While the female bird sits in this tree
hole barely big enough for herself, for three month without ever leaving,
and the male never deserts them in all this time.
Each species of bird makes its own distinctive
type of nest. Flamingo nests are as pleasing to look at as the birds
From these examples, we have seen that each species of bird has its own
way of constructing nests. Each technique requires a design planned in
advance, and is of such a complexity that couldn't be expected from creatures
without intellect or the faculty of forethought.
We're faced with organisms devoid of reason and the willpower necessary
to behave with compassion, mercy and devotion. However, these creatures
clearly demonstrate the products of intelligence, reason, planning and
design and compassionate and altruistic behavior. So what is the source
of their behaviors? If they lack the capacity to produce these actions
through their own willpower, there must be a power that teaches them to
act in this way. This power is God, the Lord of the earth, the heavens
and everything in between.
Nests that Other Creatures Build: Bumblebees
Bumblebees display quite interesting dedication. The young queen, just
before it's time to lay her eggs, starts seeking out a suitable place
to start her own colony. Once she determines the location, she begins
gathering the building materials she needs to upholster her hive-feathers,
leaves, and grass-and also as insulation material.
First, with material collected in the vicinity, she builds in the center
of the nest a small chamber the size of a tennis ball. Then it's time
to gather food. On leaving, she flies in circles in the air above her
nest, facing it at all times, so as to memorize its location. After collecting
nectar and pollen for food, she returns and deposits her loads into the
center of the chamber.
The queen feeds on nectar and, after a certain time, begins to secrete
beeswax. She doesn't discard the portion of nectar that she cannot consume,
but lets it dry and uses it to bond together the building materials she's
collected to construct the chamber. She fills the cells she has made with
nectar for food, and places a tiny lump of pollen in the bottom of the
other cells and lays white eggs on top, which will hatch into the first
worker bees. The cells are sealed with more wax and the queen bee keeps
them warm until they hatch.
She does not lay her new eggs randomly, but places them symmetrically
and with utmost care. However, equally important as the hatching of the
eggs is feeding the young. Their food is ready in the cells filled by
nectar by the queen bee. After an incubation period of from four to five
days, the larvae hatch and begin to feed on the pollen and nectar readied
It is noteworthy that the creature that distributes nectar where the
young can reach it and builds a system that will ensure healthy growth
for the young bees that will form the colony is not a being of intelligence,
but a little bee only a few centimeters in size.
Why is the queen bee so devoted? That's the first question
that jumps to mind. She'll derive no benefit from the young she feeds,
especially since on the arrival of a new queen, she can be forced to leave
the colony for which she worked so hard and sacrificed so much. There
can be only one reason for the bumblebee to show such selfless devotion
and put so much effort into raising new generations: Like all other creatures
on Earth, the queen shows all this devotion because God directs her to
be devoted and raise new generations. This means that the creatures of
nature are not possessed by a selfish survival instinct as the evolutionists
The Ice Dens of Polar Bears
When they are pregnant or have cubs, female polar bears living in the
freezing cold of the Arctic build themselves dens under the snow and ice.
Otherwise, they do not live in dens. Cubs are usually born in midwinter-tiny,
blind and naked. In the winter cold, a den is essential for these dependent,
defenseless cubs to survive.
A typical polar bear's den is a tunnel usually about two meters (6.5
feet) by 1.5 meters (5 feet) in size, and approximately one meter (3 feet)
in height. This common abode is not simply dug out. In an environment
entirely covered in ice and snow, it comprises essential details necessary
for the cubs' survival.
Usually these dens have more than one room, which are
built higher than the entrance. In this way, body heat from the chamber
cannot escape through the den's entrance. Throughout the winter, snow
piles onto the entrance and atop the den itself. In this great heap of
snow, the polar bear leaves an opening just big enough for ventilation.46
The mother polar bear makes the den's roof between
75 cm (2.5 feet) and 2 m (6.6 feet) thick, which insulates the den quite
well, keeping in the heat and fixing the air at a constant temperature.47
In this lukewarm, protected environment, the mother bear stores energy
and adjusts her fat reserves according to her period of hibernation.
Researcher Paul Watts from Norway's Oslo University placed a thermometer
in the upper wall of one den. Monitoring the temperature, he made an interesting
discovery. While the outside temperature measured below -30 C (-22 F)
degrees, the internal temperature never fell below 2 to3 degrees. How
does the mother bear know that the roof's insulation property changes
according to its thickness? This has been the subject of scientific curiosity.
This poses another, even more interesting issue. During her hibernation,
the mother bear reduces her metabolism rate, so as not to use up any energy
and to provide more milk for her cubs. For seven months, she converts
her stores of fat into protein. Because of this, she does not eat for
all that time, reducing her pulse rate from 70 to 8 and slowing down her
metabolism. Neither, during this period, does she have to relieve herself.
During the period when she will give birth, she won't have used up much
The nest built by the female crocodile for
In Florida's Everglades, the female crocodile builds
a very unusual nest for her eggs. First, she mixes decomposing plant matter
with mud and builds a mound approximately 90cm (35 inches) high. She makes
a little hole at the top, in which she lays a few dozen eggs, then covers
them all with some more vegetable matter. From then on, she guards the
mound against predators. As the eggs begin to hatch, she hears the noises
the baby crocodiles make and removes the covering of decaying vegetation.
The young quickly clamber to the top of the mound, where the mother crocodile
takes them into her mouth and carries them to the water inside it.48
The Smith Frog
Among amphibian parents, one of the best nest builders is South African
smith frog. The male builds a nest by the edge of the water, going around
in circles until it has made a hole in the mud, then pushes against the
hole's walls to widen it. Once its work is finished, it will have built
a pool 10cm (4 inches) deep, with solid mud walls.
Sitting in this pool, the smith frog makes its mating
call until it attracts the attention of a female frog. Responding to his
call, she lays her eggs in his pool. After the male fertilizes the eggs,
both frogs guard them until they hatch. When the tadpoles emerge, they
swim about in this enclosure, safe from fishes and insects. After they
grow large enough and develop legs, they climb the walls and leave this
carefully prepared nursery.49
It is not widely known that fish build nests, but a surprising number
of freshwater species do-in ponds, lakes and streams. Usually they clear
shallow depressions in the sand or gravel bottom. Once they have laid
their eggs, salmon and trout close up the nests and then leave the eggs
to hatch. In species that leave their eggs exposed in an open nest, one
or both parents guard them. In many species, only the male fish builds
the nest and guards the fertilized eggs."
It's not widely known that
fish build nests. Many freshwater fish species build nests for their
eggs and young, and also guard their eggs until they hatch.
Above: A nest made of gravel and seashells, and the larvae inside
The nests of some other species are more complex. Male
sticklebacks, found in rivers and ponds in North America and Europe, build
nests even more sophisticated than those of most bird species. The stickleback
collects plant material and secretes a substance produced in its kidneys
to bond it together. It swims along and around this material to give it
an oblong shape, then finally forces its way through the middle, to form
a tunnel through which water can circulate. If a female approaches the
nest, the male performs his courting display by darting around to left
and right. He leads the female to his tunnel nest and indicates its entrance
by pointing with his head. When the female finishes laying her eggs inside
the tunnel, the male enters through the front, fertilizes the eggs and
finally, pushes the female out the back. After several females have filled
the tunnel with eggs, the male guards the nest and makes sure fresh water
keeps on circulating through the tunnel. Repairing and maintaining the
nest as needed, he will keep on guarding the nest for a few more days
after the eggs have hatched. Then he removes the nest's top half, leaving
the rest as a nursery for the baby fish to use.50
How do Animals Achieve All This?
Consider whether it's possible for someone who's never worked on a building
site before, without anyone to explain materials or how to use them and
with no plan to fall back on, to build himself a perfect residence. Surely
not! It's hardly reasonable to expect this feat of an intelligent human
being, never mind a fish.
If this behavior of intelligence and skill cannot be expected of a human,
how can we expect it in an animal? They work patiently and with much dedication
in building their nests; and often only their young live in them. Many
of the species given as examples in the preceding pages don't even have
a very complex nervous system, much less a highly developed brain. When
they build their nests, however, they plan and calculate, apply the laws
of physics, use weaving and stitching techniques requiring skill, along
with satisfying their own needs as well as their offspring's in a practical
way. They mix mortar and insulate their nests with easily obtained materials.
But how can a polar bear or bird know how insulation works? Or deduce
that it needs to retain the heat in its nest? It's self-evident that none
of these qualities originates in the animal itself. So how do creatures
come by this inborn knowledge?
These animals' intelligent behavior, knowledge and dedication have only
one source: All these are God-given qualities. God has created these creatures
to be hard working and dedicated, providing them with the abilities to
hunt, feed, breed, and protect themselves so that they can continue their
species. In His infinite compassion and mercy, God makes them build their
nests; enables them to make perfect plans; protects and nurtures them.
Neither Mother Nature nor chance can program them to build sophisticated
nests. Because all animals obey their Creator's directives, they display
behavior that could not be expected of them.
With the 68th verse of the Sura 16 -"… Build dwellings
in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect"-God
reveals that it is He Who tells the bees where to build their nests.
Continuation of the Species and Selfless Devotion to
Many animal species suffer hardship in order to raise and protect their
offspring, even risking death on occasion. Some migrate for hundreds of
miles to their chosen nesting grounds, where they build sophisticated
nests requiring much effort. A few, like the male praying mantis, die
after mating; or-like the salmon-after laying their eggs. Others guard
their eggs for many weeks, some even carrying their eggs in their mouths
and therefore cannot feed.
All these acts of altruism serve an important purpose: survival of the
species. The weak and vulnerable young can survive only if protected and
cared for by strong adults. The chances of survival are next to nothing
for a newborn deserted at birth or for eggs laid just anywhere. But living
beings take it upon themselves to care for their defenseless young without
any signs of laziness, hesitation or frustration. Each species fulfills
its role, ordained by God, without fail.
Another interesting point is that those species that
devote the greatest care and attention to protecting their eggs or young,
are those that reproduce in the fewest numbers. Birds, for instance, lay
only a limited number of eggs each year, but guard them meticulously.
Likewise, larger mammals produce only one or two young, but take it upon
themselves to protect and care for them for a very long time. Some fish
and insects lay thousands of eggs at any one time; and mice have several
litters per year. But they do not pay the same attention to their eggs
or offspring. Even if only a few survive, they are enough to guarantee
the continuation of the species, because of the original high numbers
involved. Were they to try and show the same devotion to every single
one of their offspring, there would be a significant damage done to the
world's ecological balance. For example, were this the case with field
mice, who reproduce in great numbers, their population would increase
to such an extent that they would overrun the world.51
Reproduction is a vital factor in the preservation of the ecological balances,
but it is impossible for animals themselves to monitor and balance this
factor by conscious control.
None of these animals is a rational being. They cannot know that they
need to reproduce to begin with, nor that they should consider the balances
of the ecosystem and act accordingly. However, natural balances are indeed
preserved, and each animal exactly fulfills its responsibilities. This
clearly shows that all living things are governed by the same authority.
Nothing in nature is unsupervised or uncontrolled; all bow to God, their
Creator, and act accordingly.
God says in the Qur'an that no creature could reproduce unless He wills
it, and that He determines death as well as life:
God knows what every female bears and every shrinking
of the womb and every swelling. Everything has its measure with Him.
(Qur'an, 13: 8)
. . . And no fruit emerges from its husk, nor does
any female get pregnant or give birth, without His knowledge. . . (Qur'an,
The kingdom of the heavens and earth belongs to God.
He creates whatever He wills. He gives daughters to whoever He wishes;
and He gives sons to whoever He wishes; or He gives them both sons and
daughters; and He makes whoever He wishes barren. Truly He is All-Knowing,
All-Powerful. (Qur'an, 42: 49-50)
Extraordinary Care for Eggs and Young
The python cares for its eggs, even though
most people would think otherwise.
It is possible to see many species of birds, fish or reptiles displaying
acts of great devotion and compassion. Many species of animals suffer
much hardship to protect their next generation-concealing them, placing
the eggs carefully to prevent their breaking, warming or protecting the
young from excessive heat, removing them to safety in case of danger,
even carrying them around in their mouths, and guarding them for weeks
Pythons can be dangerous to other larger creatures,
including man, but are very protective and devoted to their eggs. The
female python lays approximately 100 eggs, then curls up over them. This
action cools the eggs by shading them when it's too hot; when it is too
cool, she warms them by vibrating her body. In this way, the female python
prevents life-endangering threats to her eggs.52
Another interesting group of animals is the mouthbrooders-fish
that incubate their spawn in their mouths. Some continue to keep them
in their mouths even after the eggs hatch. Catfish, for example, swim
around for weeks with their mouths full of their marble-sized eggs. Sometimes
they gurgle with their mouths to increase the eggs' oxygen supply. After
the eggs hatch, they stay in the mouth of the male catfish for a few more
weeks. During this period, the male sustains himself by drawing from his
fat reserves and hardly ever eats.53
Another species that carries its young in its mouth
is the frog. Rhinoderma carries its spawn inside itself. In the mating
season, the females lay their eggs onto the ground, and the males gather
to form a protective shield around the eggs. As the eggs develop, they
begin to wobble within their globes of jelly, signaling for the males
to come forward. They pick up the eggs and take them into their vocal
sacs, which are unusually large. The eggs develop inside. One day, the
male frog retches several times, then opens up its mouth wide and fully
developed froglets emerge from his mouth.54
For weeks, this species of frog carries its
own eggs attached around his hind legs.
Another species of frog, native to Australia, does
not keep its eggs in a separate sac, but swallows them down to its stomach.
But while the offspring inside the stomach are protected from the external
world, still they are exposed to a great danger from the acidic stomach
juices that can digest eggs. Therefore, if the female continues to secrete
stomach juices as she usually does, she will digest her own young. But,
this does not happen because preventive measures kick in. When the frog
swallows her spawn, her stomach ceases to secrete digestive juices, so
that the spawn are saved from being digested.55
To guarantee the safety of their offspring, some other
frogs use altogether different methods. For instance, after the Pipa toad
spawns, the male frog gathers the eggs with his webbed feet and places
them on the female's back. The eggs stick to her skin, which begins to
swell, and the eggs are embedded in it. A thin membrane forms over the
eggs. Within thirty hours, they sink far enough as to become invisible,
and the back of the female frog is level once again. The eggs develop
under her skin. After 15 days, the back of the frog begins to stir with
the movements of tadpoles. On the 24th day, the young frogs penetrate
the skin, emerge into the water, and they immediately seek a safe place
The midwife toad, native to Europe, spends the best
part of its life in holes on land in the proximity of water. It mates
on land and, after the female has spawned, the male fertilizes her eggs.
A quarter of an hour later, the male begins to stick the eggs together
into strings, which he then bonds to his hind legs. Wherever the male
goes over the coming few weeks, he drags the spawn along with him. When
the eggs are ready to hatch, the male returns to the water, where he stays
until all the tadpoles have emerged. He then returns to his hole in the
Many species of birds nest in colonies. In
the picture below, there are 70 eggs for every square meter, but
the birds can always find their own eggs and young when they return
In all these examples, one important point must not be missed. The behavior
of these frogs is in complete harmony with their physical characteristics.
One of these frogs has a sac made for the spawn that extends right down
the underside of its body. The frog could not possibly be conscious of
this, but instead of swallowing the eggs, it takes them into its vocal
sac as if it were. The other species of frog, because it lacks the faculty
of thought and intellect, could not know that its digestive juices would
harm its spawn, much less how to stop secreting it. No living creature
is able to stop its stomach from secreting digestive juices. Yet another
species has a back uniquely suited to carry its spawn. Its physical attributes
and behavior are so complex that they couldn't possibly have developed
In each of these examples, there is an intrinsic design and plan. It
is self-evident that God, the All-Knowing and All-Wise, has created these
physical and behavioral characteristics in frogs, letting them be in harmony
with one another as well as all the other living things. God, the Infinitely
Compassionate and Merciful, protects all babies and offspring.
God has given the instincts of protection and compassion
not only to the creatures mentioned here. Similarly, the eggs and larvae
of ants, termites, bees and other colony-forming insects are the central
point of their care and attention. Ants keep their eggs and larvae in
underground chambers built especially for that purpose. Worker ants frequently
move them from chamber to chamber, according to fluctuations in humidity
and temperature, going to and fro, carrying the larvae in their jaws.
When their nest comes under attack by other creatures, the worker ants
immediately evacuate these chambers and carry the larvae to safety outside
Above: The rain-bird wets its breast feathers
when the day is hot in order to cool its eggs. Below left: The albatross.
Below right: The fairy tern does everything its eggs require during
incubation. As these pictures demonstrate, birds tend their eggs
carefully. They build nests to protect them and never leave them
unattended. Beyond doubt, it is God, their sustainer and protector,
Who inspires them to do so.
Birds' care for their eggs is truly astonishing. For
example, the little ringed plover lays four eggs in a hole in the ground.
If the temperature rises dangerously, it plunges its abdomen in water
and on its return, cools the eggs with the moisture on its feathers.59
Most egg-laying animals regulate the temperature of
their eggs' environment. Water fowl, like ducks and geese, for example,
cover their eggs with feathers that they pluck from their own own breasts.
This prevents heat loss from the eggs.60
Like many smaller birds, swans maintain their eggs'
warmth by sitting on them. The female frequently gets up and turns the
eggs so they will warm evenly.61
For incubating its eggs, the phalarope bird uses an
altogether different method. Once the female lays her eggs, her mate takes
over the responsibility of looking after them. Sitting on the eggs, he
soon loses the feathers on his breast and abdomen. This increases blood
flow to these areas of skin, and the warmth is sufficient for the male
to incubate the eggs in just over three weeks.62
Many species of birds employ various skills to protect their eggs
from danger. For instance the burrowing owl builds its nest three
meters (ten feet) underground, where it lays between 6 and 12 eggs.
Males assist the females during the incubation period, and one or
the other will always guard the entrance leading to their nest.
Should a predatory bird try to enter, one of the birds will imitate
the hissing sound of a snake-so well that the intruder is scared
Regulating the temperature in the nest is vital for the development of
the eggs of all creatures. It is very significant that animals are most
sensitive in this regard and regulate the temperature by a variety of
methods. It's not likely that any bird, snake or ant should know the importance
of proper temperature and then, all by itself, discover an appropriate
method for keeping temperatures at the needed level. That knowledge must
lie outside of these animals. To thinking people, God, the Creator of
everything, reveals His endless wisdom by creating different qualities
in countless different creatures.
Often these animals tire endlessly in the effort to
look after their young. Birds, in particular, are often required to build
nest after nest, in one breeding season. While providing for their young
in one nest, they have to incubate the eggs in another. For instance,
in the little ringed plover and the grebes, both male and female, spend
their days between incubating the eggs in one nest and feeding their young
in the other.63
More interestingly, in the water hen and window swallow
species, the young in the first nest help raise of the younger birds in
the second. Many bee-eater pairs aid other pairs. This type of cooperation
among one another is common among birds.64 No doubt,
every one of these acts of selfless devotion rocks the whole premise of
the theory of evolution. Such higher behavior should not exist in a natural
ecosystem that, according to the evolutionists, has been formed by random
chance and is populated by creatures with no concern for any individual
beyond themselves. However, countless examples of altruism and helpfulness
prove that nature is not the product of chance, but has been created by
a superior being.
The Emperor Penguin's Unequalled Patience
In the mating season, emperor penguins migrate
for miles to their nesting grounds.
This is yet another species that goes to great effort to protect its
eggs, and shows an astonishing level of patience and endurance. These
birds, native to the inhospitable conditions of Antarctica, migrate a
few miles to suitable grounds in March or April (when winter begins in
the Southern Hemisphere) in order to reproduce and raise their young.
Around 25,000 penguins congregate to mate. In May or June, each female
lays one egg. The pair will not build a nest for their egg, as their whole
environment is a land of ice and snow. Nor will they lay their egg on
the ice, because it would not withstand the cold and freeze instantly.
That is why the female carries the egg on her feet. A few hours after
the female lays the egg, the male joins her, and they stand breast to
The male takes the egg from the female, both making sure that the egg
doesn't make contact with the ice. He pushes his toes under the egg, then
raises them to roll it onto his feet, doing this with utmost care and
attention so as not to break the egg by accident. After this difficult
exercise, he buries the egg in his feathers.
Producing the egg has almost exhausted the female penguin's fat reserves,
and she must immediately return to the sea to find food and restore her
body fat to its former level. This is why the male needs to incubate her
egg. But this is a much more difficult incubation period than other birds
experience, and requires much patience. A male penguin never puts the
egg down on the ice and therefore, he is almost completely immobile. He
can move for only a few meters by dragging his feet and using his tail
like a third foot. He rests on his heels while raising his toes, to prevent
the precious egg from rolling onto the ice to freeze. Because his feet
are covered by feathers, the temperature there is 80 degrees Centigrade
(176 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the outside air. The egg never gets
chilled by the freezing cold.
As the Southern Hemisphere winter progresses, snowstorms begin to wreak
havoc. Winds can reach speeds of 120-160 kilometers an hour (75-95 mph).
Under these murderous conditions, the male penguins go without food for
a month and hardly ever move, proving their dedication for their offspring.
In order not to freeze, male penguins huddle closer together, forming
a solid bloc. To prevent cold air from blowing in between them, they press
their beaks against their chests and their necks curve to the horizontal,
thus forming a feathered roof with no gaps in between. Those penguins
on the fringes are forced to stomach all the harshness of the South Pole.
Not for long, though, because they keep rotating so as to face the cold
in turns, proving their solidarity. No one bird refuses to take his turn.
Both male and female emperor penguins show
selfless devotion for their young.
It is very significant indeed that thousands of penguins can live side
by side under the harshest conditions without conflict. It would be very
unlikely for man, blessed with consciousness and intellect, to live in
harmony, considerate and unselfish, where such a conflict of interest
exists. But penguins do not desert their eggs, despite these inhospitable
conditions and the threats to their own lives. This deals a lethal blow
to the evolutionists' claim that the weak die out and perish, destroyed
by the strong. Instead, nature is where the vulnerable are protected and
cared for, despite all the hardships involved.
After a most difficult 60 days, the penguins' eggs hatch. The males,
even after 60 days of resisting the cold without any food, are still preoccupied
with their young rather than themselves. The new arrivals need nourishment.
From their gullets, the male penguins produce a milky secretion which
they feed to their offspring. At this critical moment, the females return.
They call for their mates, who return their call. The pairs recognize
one another by their voices during the mating ritual. Despite their three-month
separation, they recognize each other immediately, and their ability to
do so is a God-given gift.
The females have full crops and regurgitate in front of the chicks, which
then eat their first real meal. You might expect the male, upon the female's
return, to leave its offspring to mind its own business, but not so: he
looks after the chick for another ten days, keeping it warm on his feet.
Only then does he return to the sea to find his first meal in four months.
After about three to four weeks at sea, he returns to take over the responsibility
of looking after the young from the female, who then sets off to feed
in the ocean again.
In the first stages of their lives, baby penguins cannot
generate their own body heat. If left alone, they die within minutes.
This is why the male and female penguin take turns feeding their offspring
and protecting it from the cold, not hesitating to endanger their own
lives in this cause.66
God directs male and female penguins to cooperate in protecting their
eggs and young under the worst conditions, sharing the work at the risk
of death. They never desert their young at any cost, even for a single
moment. Under those conditions, a creature devoid of reason could be expected
to soon abandon its egg in order to find for itself. But thanks to the
feeling of protection that God inspires in them, penguins guard the egg
not for hours or days, but for months.