THE ONLY SPECIES
WHERE THE MALE CONCEIVES:
The seahorse is the only species where the
male becomes pregnant. The male seahorse carries its eggs in a pouch
under its belly for many weeks.
The male seahorse
has a brood pouch wherein he keeps the eggs he receives from the females.
She deposits her eggs into the brood pouch of the male, who keeps them
there until they develop into tiny little seahorses. Here they are fed
with fluid from a placenta-like structure, and oxygen is supplied them
by the capillaries. Depending on the species, this pregnancy lasts between
10 and 42 days. During this time, the female visits the male every morning.
These visits and greeting rituals give the female an idea about her mate's
due date and in this time, the female prepares to produce new eggs.67
The Dangerous Journey of the Grunion
The grunion, unlike other species of fish, buries its eggs
on land because its eggs can develop only in such an environment. For
the grunion, leaving the water for even a short time means death. Yet
they must do so, or else their lineage will terminate. These fish, acting
according to God's guidance, come ashore at the right time and when conditions
are just right to bury their eggs in the sand. They wait for the full
moon, because then the tides are bigger and waves can reach further up
the shore. They await the high tide, which lasts for three hours, and
then come ashore with the biggest wave they can ride. The females that
succeed in coming ashore this way, skillfully wriggle into the sand and
spawn approximately 5 cm (2 inches) under the surface.
Their danger has not yet passed, however,
since they still must return to the sea. They have to complete spawning
and bury their eggs in the sand before the tide withdraws. If they miss
this opportunity, they will die on the dry shore. As we see, these fish
expend much effort into the correct placement of their eggs and run a
great risk-but at the same time, acting intelligently.68
The dangers the grunion faces and the intelligent behavior
it displays, both reveal that there is a mind and consciousness outside
of this little fish. There are many easier methods of spawning, yet it
prefers to bury its eggs in the sand on shore. Let's presume that it acquired
this habit through a series of chance events. What would happen, according
to this scenario? The female would die at the first hurdle-trying to come
ashore to bury her eggs. She would face prohibitive conditions, making
it impossible for her to learn by trial and error-much less pass her "learning"
along to the eggs, already in her body! God makes the grunion's eggs able
to develop in the sand, as well as inspiring the fish to choose the right
time to come ashore and thereby, reproduce and survive.
The Weedy Nest that the Bowfin Prepares for its Eggs
The female bowfin spawns between May and
June. In this time, the dark spot on the top of her tail fin becomes more
pronounced. The male bowfin prepares an underwater nest in shallow, weedy
areas by tearing loose the stems and leaves of plants, leaving a small
circular clearing surrounded by vegetation. When the female releases her
spawn, the eggs stick to the bottom of the nest, and the male stays to
guard them, swimming in circles to create a current that increases the
oxygen flow. The male fish continue to protect its offspring until they
reach a length of approximately 10cm (4 inches).69
A female blenny will stick
her eggs under rocks, in crevices, or on the inside of bottles
she finds on the seabed. Then, the male starts guarding the
eggs and fans them to increase water circulation and thereby,
constantly provide the eggs with oxygen.70
Salmon swimming against the current.
Salmon's Arduous Journey to
These fish spend the first five years or so of their
lives in the open oceans. During this time, they develop their muscles,
store fat and grow big and strong. Those that mature toward the
end of this five-year period will need every bit of the calories
stored in their bodies, because in order to reproduce, they need
to return to the fresh-water rivers where they were hatched.
Salmon have a long journey to reach
the place where they will spawn their next generation. Once in the
river, they have to swim against the current and force their way
up waterfalls. Salmon stop feeding when they enter fresh water.
The final leg of their journey consumes almost all their stored
energy. Once they have spawned, their strength and endurance are
at an end, and the exhausted fish die.71
For this act of selfless, virtually suicidal
behavior by the salmon in order to reproduce, there is only one
explanation: This fish is obeying the rules God made for it. For
a salmon to return to the same river where it was spawned, for it
to calculate the proper time, and never abandon the journey even
in the face of hostile conditions-no fish would do this by its own
willpower. No fish could show so much premeditated, noble and selfless
devotion on its own.
Another Creature That Migrates Vast Distances to Reproduce:
The Grey Whale
Every year in December and January, pregnant
grey whales leave the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean and migrate towards
California, passing by North America's western shoreline, seeking out
temperate waters to give birth. On this journey, interestingly, the whales
do not feed. But, they are well prepared, however, since throughout the
summer, in the krill-rich waters of the north they've been building up
stores of energy in the form of thick layers of blubber. As soon as the
grey whales reach the tropical waters of western Mexico, they give birth.
The baby whales feed on their mothers' milk and build up their own stores
in preparation for the journey back to the northern hemisphere in March
together with the other grey whales.72
The Diligent Care of the Cichlid Fish
The safest place for a baby cichlid is in
the mouth of its mother.
Both male and female cichlids take good care of their spawn
and young. At all times, one of them is fanning the spawn with its fins
from above. They alternate in this duty, once every few minutes, in order
to increase oxygen flow for the better development of the eggs and also
to prevent fungal spores from settling and developing on the spawn.
The cichlids' care serves mainly to keep
their spawn clean, which is why they eat their unfertilized eggs, to prevent
contamination of the healthy ones. Later on, they transfer their spawn
to holes they made earlier in the sand, carrying a few eggs at a time.
While one fish goes to the hole, the other guards the rest of the eggs,
and this continues until all have been moved. Once the young emerge, the
parents keep on protecting them. The young stay close together, and if
one of them should stray, one parent brings it back in its mouth.73
The cichlid is not the only creature that's
sensitive about cleanliness. For instance, the female centipede regularly
licks her eggs clean in order to prevent fungal spores from attacking
them and curls her body around them, protecting the eggs against predators
until they hatch.74
The female octopus releases her spawn into
cavities in rocks, then guards it and frequently cleans them with her
tentacles and rinses them with clean water.75
The Selfless Devotion of the Ostrich
For creatures on the African continent,
the hot sun can often be deadly. To protect themselves from its rays,
many animal species seek out places in the shade. But the South African
ostrich is more concerned about shielding its eggs and offspring from
the intensity of the sun. For this reason, it stands above its eggs and
later, its hatchlings, spreading its wings to provide shade for them.76
Meanwhile, it exposes itself to the sun, proving its dedication.
Many species of bird shade their eggs or young.
Various examples of this selfless behavior are shown here. Right
and bottom: Ostriches provide shade for their eggs and offspring.
Below: A stork species native to Zambia shades its young.
How the Wolf Spider Carries its Young
The female of this species lays her eggs into a concave silk
cocoon which she has spun for just this purpose. She sticks this cocoon
to her lower abdomen and takes it wherever she goes. If it falls loose,
she will stick it back onto her abdomen.
Once the young spiders emerge from the eggs, they will stay
for some more time in her cocoon and, when the time is right, climb onto
her back. The female carries her young around with her. In some species,
the young are so numerous that they pile up high on her back. As far as
we know, the young do not feed during all this time.
This female spider carries her eggs and offspring
in a silken cocoon, which is proportionately too large for the her
body. To be able to carry it, she is forced to walk on straightened
legs. When the eggs are about to hatch, the female weaves another
cocoon to protect her offspring. Emerging from the old cocoon, the
young move into the new one, where their mother protects them.
A different species of wolf spider removes
the cocoon from her body in June or July, when the eggs are about to hatch.
She then spins a tent over it and guards it. After hatching, the young
remain in this tent, shedding their skin twice until they are fully developed.
Then they disperse.77
How can an invertebrate like a spider show loyalty, interest,
compassion and patience? This question provides food for thought.
Insects Caring for their Eggs
This bug from Australia protects its eggs
carefully, hanging them on the branch of a tree and never leaving
Water bugs face a real dilemma. If they deposit their eggs
above water, they will dry up; if they lay them in the water, their grubs
will drown when they emerge from the eggs. The male bugs shoulder the
responsibility of keeping the eggs laid above water, moist and ventilated.
The female giant water bug, Lethocerus, lays her
eggs on a branch afloat on the water. The male bug dives into the water
frequently and then climbs up on the branch where he lets water drip on
the eggs and also keeps predatory insects away.
In Arizona's Sycamore Canyon,
a male giant water bug (Abedus herberti) carries its eggs on his
back. The eggs are stuck onto his back by the female. This is another
species where the father cares for its offspring and it does his
best to keep the eggs well ventilated and moisturized.78
The female giant water bug Belostoma (often found in swimming
pools) attaches her eggs with a sticky substance onto the male's back.
He swims on the surface, airing the eggs, pedaling backward and forward
with his hind legs, doing push-ups or holding onto a branch, and sprinkles
water onto the eggs for hours on end.
Three different species-Bledius
rove beetles, Bembidion ground beetles, and Heterocerus-all
have an interesting method of preventing their eggs from drowning on tidal
mudflats. They plug their narrow-necked brood chambers when the tide is
coming in and unplug them again when water recedes.79
That even insects can show such foresight and protect their
eggs intelligently once again shows the clear reality of creation.
Devotion of the Wasp for Offspring It Will Never See
The digger wasp digs a slanting burrow for its larvae to
grow in. This is a difficult task for such a small creature, but the wasp
first lifts the soil with its jaw and then throws it behind with its front
The digger wasp puts great effort into the
burrow it digs for the young it will never see, and stores in there
the food it will need.
This wasp has another important ability:It digs its burrow
without leaving a trace around it. Trapping soil between its jaws, it
removes it bit by bit and deposits it at some distance away from the burrow
without forming piles anywhere, so as not to draw the attention of predatory
When the hole is enlarged to the size of the wasp's body,
it excavates a nursery chamber just big enough for its egg and a supply
of food. It then covers up the entrance temporarily and goes hunting for
"He is God-the Creator, the Maker, the Giver
of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the
heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise."
(Qur'an, 59: 24)
Each species of digger wasp specializes in hunting for caterpillars,
grasshoppers, or crickets. When hunting for its young, it will not kill
its prey, but paralyze it with its sting and drag it back to its burrow.
There, it deposits a single egg onto the prey. The insect remains alive
and fresh until the egg hatches and the larva begins to feed on it.
Once the wasp has arranged the nest and
food for its young, it's time to cater for the larva's safety. Carefully
it conceals the entrance with soil and little pebbles. It picks up a little
pebble with its jaws and uses it like a hammer to drive the soil level
with the ground. Then it rakes the surface with its spiky legs and sweeps
the ground until the burrow's entrance is perfectly concealed. But this
is still not good enough for the wasp! As a precautionary measure, it
digs a few dummy burrows nearby. In this enclosed and well-protected burrow,
with the food it has, the larva will develop into an adult and can then
emerge by itself.80
The wasp will never see its young, but nevertheless prepares
with due care and attention everything the larva will need. All this patience
and hard work reveals dedication, foresight and careful thinking. It is
obvious that this tiny creature cannot possibly do all this by itself
and must be enabled to do so by a knowledgeable, intelligent power.
As mentioned before, evolutionists say that animals are programmed
to behave in this way. According to their theory, this program originated
in a series of random occurrences. If we consider the extraordinarily
complex features of living things, it becomes obvious how irrational and
illogical this claim really is. Anyone of thought and conscience can easily
recognize that all creatures act on God's inspiration.
All Baby Animals Are Created
with a Cuteness that Inspires Compassion
their adult counterparts, the young of most species are more lovable
in their appearance and behavior. They display more rounded features,
outsized baby-eyes, full cheeks and pronounced forehead-all responsible
for this perception. In some species, the young are even of a different
color than the adults. For instance, the fur of a baby baboon is
black and pink, whereas the adult's is olive. The baboon community
perceives these young animals as more appealing than their other,
older counterparts. Some females have even been observed trying
to kidnap appealing youngsters from their mothers. This behavior
disappears when the young baboons' fur turns from its original black
and pink to the same color as the adults'.81
Everything for the Young
Young animals are often born totally dependent on their parents'
care and protection. Creatures born blind or naked, unable to hunt for
themselves, will usually die of hunger or cold if not taken care of and
protected by their parents, or by other adult members of the herd. However,
animals act on God's inspiration and therefore, feed and protect their
young at any cost.
Protecting the Young from Dangers
When it comes to protecting their young,
animals can be quite vicious and dangerous. If they sense danger or come
under attack, usually they prefer to flee the area with their young. But
if not, they will throw themselves at the attacker without hesitation.
For example, birds and bats are known to attack naturalists who remove
their young from their nests.82
When hoofed animals like zebras are attacked, they split
into groups, gather their young into the center, and run for their lives.
If cornered, the adult members of the herd defend their foals bravely
against the predators.
When giraffes are attacked, they shelter their young under
their bodies and kick out at the attacker with their front legs. Antelopes
and deer are timid, nervous animals who choose to run if they have no
young to protect. But should foxes or wolves endanger their offspring,
they do not hesitate to use their sharp hoofs.
Animal parents protect their offspring in a variety of ways. Some
conceal them in safe environments and others try to frighten off
their adversaries. The giraffe never leaves the side of its young.
The young roe deer (below) is concealed by its mother in the tall
grass. She will not allow it to stand up tall. Above: Young owls
are carefully looked after.
Smaller, weaker mammals prefer to conceal
their young or take their offspring somewhere safe in order to protect
them. If they lack the opportunity to do that, however, they can become
very aggressive to scare away any attacking predator. For example, the
cottontail rabbit-ordinarily a very timid animal-takes great risks to
drive enemies away from its young. If its young are attacked, it will
run back and kick out at the enemy with its powerful hind legs. This bravery
is often enough to drive even stronger predators away from its burrow.83
When predators are chasing a young fawn,
the mother gazelle gets behind her young, because predators usually catch
their prey from behind. She will try to stay close up behind the fleeing
fawn, and if the predator comes close, she will try to divert it away.
She will use her hoofs against jackals or run close by the predator to
draw attention away from her young.84
God inspires all living beings to care for
their young and to be considerate and compassionate to them.
Some mammals' colors blend in with their
environment. Sometimes, however, the young need to be guided by their
mothers in order to take advantage of this feature. A mother deer will
use her young's camouflage as an advantage on its behalf. She hides her
young among the undergrowth and makes it stay there. The fawn's brown
fur with white spots keeps it from being spotted when seen from even a
close distance. The white spots in the fur give the impression of dappled
sunlight falling on the undergrowth. Predators passing even only a few
meters away will not spot the fawn. The mother will be close by, but won't
do anything to draw attention to her youngster's location. Very cautious,
she will visit her young only to nurse it. Before returning to the forest,
she will budge her young to get it to lie down again. Even if the young
gets up every now and then, it will immediately drop to the ground again
if it hears any unfamiliar sound. The young animal hides this way until
it grows big enough to run with its mother.85
Some other animals try to scare off predators
to drive them away from their young. Owls and some other birds spread
their wings wide open in order to appear larger than they really are,
to frighten away predators approaching their young. Others will hiss like
snakes. The blue tit hisses at a high pitch and beats its wings against
the walls of its nest. Since the nest is totally dark inside, the aggressor
can't determine what it's up against and usually withdraws quickly.86
Adult members of some bird colonies take
it upon themselves to protect all of the young. For shellduck flocks,
gulls are particularly dangerous. The shellduck adults on guard will show
off their strength to drive the gulls away. Adult birds take turns protecting
their young and, when they come off duty, will leave to feed in remote
When deer realize that they'll be unable to cope with an
enemy, they'll throw themselves at the predator, offering themselves as
prey and thus leading the predator away from their young. Many animal
species use the same strategy. For instance, when the female tiger sees
a hostile predator approaching, she immediately leaves her cubs and begins
drawing the predator's attention. A raccoon, on the other hand, will take
its young up the nearest tree, and quickly climb back down to face the
enemy. It will let itself be chased for a long distance, and when it believes
that it has led the predator far away enough, it quietly returns to its
young. It goes without saying that not all these strategies are always
completely successful. Even if the young survive, their parents may meet
their deaths trying to protect the offspring.
In an act of great devotion, some birds pretend
to be injured in order to draw attention away from their young,
but endanger their own lives by this action.
Some birds pretend to be injured to draw predators' attention
away from their offspring and onto themselves. Seeing a predator approach,
a female bird quietly sneaks away from her nest. When she comes near the
predator, she will beat the ground with one wing and cry out as if in
pain. This makes her appear to have been injured and therefore, vulnerable.
However, she's always careful to leave enough space between herself and
the predator to let her escape. Her "performance" invariably attracts
the predator's attention. It approaches in the expectation of an easy
meal, not realizing it's being led away from the bird's nest. When it's
safely out of reach, the female bird will stop pretending to be injured
and, just as the predator reaches it, will fly off.
This theatrical show is very convincing indeed; it fools
dogs, cats, snakes and even other birds. Many ground-nesting birds protect
their offspring in this way. When a predator approaches, for instance,
the mother duck pretends to be unable to fly, beating her wings wildly
around the lake but always making sure she keeps a safe distance. Having
led the intruder away sufficiently, she takes off and returns to her nest.
Scientists can in no
way explain these birds' "injured wing" script.89 Could
a bird really write such a scenario? It would have to be extremely clever
to do this, since calculated pretense requires intelligence and skill.
Also, the bird would have to be very brave to offer itself without hesitating
and let the predator stalk it. No bird copies this behavior from other
birds; this is an inborn defense mechanism.90
We have related here only a small fraction of the conscious,
selfless acts of devotion found in the animal world. Millions of different
species populate this Earth, each with its own defense mechanisms. More
important than these systems is the lesson they teach us. Is it rational
and logical to claim that a bird risks its life, consciously and by its
own free will, in order to protect its young? Surely not. The animals
we mentioned here are devoid of intelligence and cannot possibly possess
feelings of compassion and mercy. It is God, Lord of the heavens and the
Earth, Who creates them with these qualities, enabling them to act intelligently,
compassionately and mercifully. By inspiring these animals, God reveals
His own infinite compassion and mercy.
Insects Too Protect Their Young from Dangers
The lace bug, seen here protecting its nymphs
from attacks by other insects.
In 1764, the Swedish naturalist Adolph
Modeer discovered that parent bugs protect their offspring and care for
them. He observed that the female European shield bug, remains firm over
its eggs when predators approach, protecting them against the enemy instead
of flying away.91
At first, however, many scientists did not want to acknowledge
that beetles cared for their next generation. Professor Douglas W. Tallamy,
an evolutionist expert on insect behavior, explains the reason why:
Still, the ecological penalties for parental
care can be so severe for insects that some entomologists wonder why it
has persisted at all. The far easier strategy, followed by most insects,
is simply to produce an abundance of eggs.92
Even though Tallamy believes in evolution, he is questioning
one of the theory's dead ends. According to the theory of evolution, behavior
that endangers a species' own lives should have been quickly phased out.
But obviously, this did not happen! Many insects, like most other creatures
in nature, never hesitate to risk their lives for their offspring and
often-as in the case of wasps, bees, and ants- for one another.
One of the tiny creatures that does so is the lace bug that
lives on horse-nettle plants. The female lace bug protects her eggs and
later, her nymphs to the bitter end. One of the nymphs' worst enemies
is the damsel bug-a beetle that, given the opportunity, will eat all the
larvae with its sharp beak. But the female lace bug has no weapons to
protect her young, and the only thing she can do is sit on the back of
the enemy and beat her wings, trying to force it away.
Meanwhile, the nymphs use the leaf's central
vein like a speedway, escape via the stem and hide in some fresh uncurling
new leaves. If the mother can manage escape with her life, she will follow
the nymphs to whatever leaf they've hidden in and sit on the stem to guard
them. In this way, should the enemy pursue, she cut offs the route leading
to the nymphs. Sometimes, the mother chases her young for a short distance,
to prevent them from going to an unsuitable leaf, and then leads them
to a safer one instead. Mothers often die in these attacks, but they have
bought time for their nymphs to escape and hide.95
Middle: Uganda assassin bug, guarding its
Right: Brazilian Shield bug which lies on its
nymphs to protect them from predators.93
Left: Larvae of the Brazilian tortoise beetle
form a symmetrical ring under their mother's body. The mother begins
guarding the eggs before they hatch, then leads its larvae to food
sources. If one of the young strays or tries to escape, the mother
will bring it back immediately.94
The Feeding of the Young
For defenseless young to survive, their
parents must feed and protect them. At all times, the adults need to be
on guard against predators to protect their young, and must hunt for more
food to feed them. Male and female birds feed their offspring between
4 and 12 times an hour throughout the day. If there are many chicks, they
will fly hundreds of sorties to gather enough food for them. For instance,
the great tit will deliver food to its nest up to 900 times a day.96
Female mammals have an additional problem
to deal with: They can feed their young only by suckling them. In this
lactation period, they need to increase their food intake substantially.
For instance, seals suckle their young for between 17 and 18 days after
they give birth to them. The young gain much weight over this time, whereas
the mothers will lose much, because they do not feed during this time.97
Many animal species show their devotion when
their young need to eat. For instance the great tit makes hundreds
of flights every day to feed its young. The seal loses much weight
when nursing its pups.
Parents that must care for their offspring
use three to four times the energy they expend at other times.98
To determine the "cost" to parents of raising
their young, biologist Heinz Richner and his students at the University
of Lausanne made an experiment with the great tit-which revealed the difficulties
of being a father. During this experiment, Richner frequently changed
the number of young birds the father cared for by moving the fledglings
around between nests. He found that father birds forced to feed an increased
number of offspring worked twice as hard, and died sooner as a result.
Parasites and illnesses associated with them affected 76% of these fathers,
as opposed to an average of 36% under normal conditions.99
These results are important in helping to understand a bird's
dedication for its young and the hardship it's prepared to suffer for
Feathers that a Grebe Feeds its Young
The grebe feeds its young the feathers that
will later aid in their digestion.
The grebes serve as floating nests for their own young. Young
grebes climb up on one of their parents. Once they have settled down,
the adult bird raises its wings slightly to prevent the chicks falling
off. It feeds its young by bending its beak back towards them and passing
morsels through it, but their first meal is not food. First, the young
birds are fed feathers collected from the water's surface or pulled from
the parent's breast. Each little bird is made to swallow a considerable
amount of feathers. But why?
These first feathers are fed to the young
birds as a very important precautionary measure for their health. The
young birds cannot digest these feathers, and so store them in their stomachs.
Some of these feathers pack together like felt at the entrance to the
intestine. Fish bones and other indigestible matter are caught there,
preventing damage to the delicate lining of the stomach and intestinal
walls. This habit of eating feathers will continue throughout the bird's
In some species like the European kingfisher,
the mother bird dives into the water at great speed and catches fish by
the tail for her offspring. There is an important reason for her to catch
them by their tails, because when caught like this, they can be fed to
the young birds headfirst, so that the fins lie flat and do not stick
in the young birds' gullets when they swallow the fish. If however the
adult bird catches the fish just any which way, it will swallow the fish
The Guacharo Bird that Travels Miles to Feed Its Young
This species builds its nest at a height of 20 meters (65
feet). It will forage five or six times a night to gather fruit for its
young. First it chews up the fruit, then feeds its young with the pulp.
The guacharo flies in flocks to search
for food and covers an extraordinary distance of 25 kilometers (15 miles)
Like the guacharo, many other animal species
will prepare food before feeding it to their young. Pelicans, for instance,
prepare a sort of "fish soup." Shearwaters prepare a rich oil from the
fish and plankton they ingest. In their crops, pigeons secrete a substance
called "pigeon's milk" that is rich in fats and proteins. Unlike mammals,
both male and female pigeons produce this "milk," and many other species
of bird produce similar substances.103
Baby birds are totally dependent on their parents. They're
able only to open their beaks wide and wait for the parents to feed them.
Young herring gulls instinctively push their beaks towards a red spot
on the mother's bill. At the slightest vibration that could indicate their
parents' return, young thrushes, still blind, stretch their necks upwards
and open their beaks wide in anticipation, as if the swollen yellow rims
of these young birds' beaks were indicating where their parents should
deposit their food. The edges of their gapes are quite sensitive. If a
baby has its beak closed for whatever reason, the slightest touch will
stimulate it to open its beak.
Many species like the pelican prepare food
for their offspring in their crops. As seen here, a young pelican
eats food from its mother's crop on her return.
The color and sensitivity of young birds' mouths, especially
in birds whose nests are located in deep down places, make life easier
all around. A mother can easily find the gapes of her young, even when
they're sitting in a dark corner of the nest.
Gouldian finches build their nest in a dark hole in the ground.
Their young have brightly colored green and blue knobs at the corners
of their gapes, which act as reflectors for the little light that filters
through into the deeper corners of the nest.
In some species of birds, colorful gapes
serve purposes other than just indicating the location of the young. They
can also indicate which of the young has recently been fed, and which
are still in need of feeding. The gapes of young linnets are ruddy because
of the blood vessels located just under the skin of the throat. After
the young have been fed, their blood is drawn to their stomach in order
to digest the food. Therefore, those birds that have gone without food
the longest will have the reddest gape. Experiments conducted in this
area have revealed that parent birds utilize these color differences when
determining which of their youngsters to feed.104
The way bird behavior harmonizes with their environment is
clear proof that creatures, and all of the natural world they live in,
are the handiwork of one Creator. No string of coincidences can possibly
produce such perfect harmony.
Sandgrouse that Carry Water to Their Offspring
"There is no creature on the earth which is
not dependent upon God for its provision. He knows where it lives
and where it dies. They are all in a Clear Book."
(Qur'an, 11: 6)
In nature, all animals' features are in accord with their
environments. An excellent example of this is sandgrouse, which has no
specific place of abode in the vast desert. When they need to lay eggs,
they find a shallow hole in the sand and lay three eggs at most. As soon
as the chicks hatch, they leave the nest and begin roaming for seeds,
which they can find for themselves. But because they cannot fly yet, they
are unable to reach water to still their thirst. Therefore, water needs
to be brought to them-and the male sandgrouse caters to this need.
Some other species of bird transport water for their young
in their crops. But because the male sandgrouse must bring water from
so far away, the quantity he can store in his crop covers only his own
needs during this long journey. But he has a unique feature for this purpose.
The inner surface of the feathers on his breast and underside are covered
with very fine filaments. When the bird reaches a waterhole, he rubs his
underside against sand or dust, thus removing any preen oil that might
prevent the absorption of water. After drinking as much water as he can
for his own needs, he then enters the water, raises his wings and tail,
and wriggles about. This soaks all the feathers on his belly, and the
filaments lining his feathers absorb the water like a sponge.
The water he transports between his body
and feathers is protected against evaporation, but some still does evaporate
if he must cover a distance of greater than 30 kilometers (20 miles).
When he finally reaches his chicks, who are roaming for seeds, they run
up to him straight away. When the male sandgrouse lifts his body, the
young can drink the water like mammals drinking milk from their mother's
body. Once they have drunk all the water, he dries himself by rubbing
his body against the sand. The male sandgrouse continues to repeat this
every day until the chicks are about two months old and molt for the first
time, after which time they can get their own water.107
We need to reflect on a number of aspects in sandgrouse's
behavior. Besides endowing it with the exact features it needs to survive
in this environment, He also inspires it to know exactly what it needs
| Left: Sandgrouse drink
first, then wet their feathers to transport water for their chicks.
Right: The mother stork carries water in her crop to cool her young.
Bee-eaters feed their young with bees, insects,
wasps, butterflies, mantids and termites. In order to prevent injury
to their offspring, first they smash the victims against a branch
to kill them.105 Above left:Young bee-eaters
awaiting feeding. Above right: The bee-eater delivering food to
Parent birds are among the most hard-working
of animals. They fly countless times, sometimes as many as a thousand
times a day, in order to find food for their chicks.106
Parent birds spend most of their time hunting
for food. God provides for each of them in a different way. Here,
the kingfisher, after helping its young emerge from their eggs,
dives for fish.
a- The kingfisher with its eggs.
b- Caring for its young.
c- Diving for fish.
d- Catching its prey.
e- Taking prey home to its young.
f- Feeding its chicks.
Insects Feeding Their Young
Many insect species feed their larvae
and offspring. Burrowing bugs, for example, feed their larvae, concealed
in a burrow, with seeds. Treehoppers open up spiral slits in the bark
of trees, exposing the tiny tubes that carry nourishing sap from which
their tiny larvae feed. Wood eaters have a hard life. They must somehow
convert wood, which is not only difficult to digest but contains only
little nitrogen, into an edible form for their larvae. Wood roaches and
passalid bess beetles that feed on wood have solved this problem by feeding
their nymphs with softened wood fibers and single-cell organisms that
can break down cellulose, along with intestinal fluids rich in nitrogen.
Bark beetles chew the wood and lay their eggs in the tunnels they open
up. On the wood, they place fungus that will break down the cellulose
into a substance their larvae can eat.108
God sustains every species in a different way. The insects
mentioned find their sustenance in the way God wills. He makes their parents
provide for these tiny creatures and in the Qur'an, He reveals that it
is He Who sustains every living thing:
How many creatures do not carry their provision with
them! God provides for them and He will for you. He is the All-Hearing,
the All-Knowing. (Qur'an, 29: 60)
"God is the Creator of everything and He is
Guardian over everything."
(Qur'an, 39: 62)
Newborn animals, generally weak and clumsy, need their parents
to carry them away in case of danger or if they need to be moved elsewhere.
Each species has a different method of transporting its young. Some carry
them on their backs, others in their mouths and still others in special
pouches under their wings. While being transported, the young are not
harmed in any way and are quickly taken to a safe environment.
Transporting the young out of harm's way is an important
example of parental devotion, because carrying the young considerably
reduces the parent animals' speed and mobility. Despite this, animals
never desert their young in the face of danger.
Most commonly, animals transport their young on their backs.
Monkeys, for example, can carry their young everywhere they go. The mother
can move around unhindered with her baby because it grips the mother's
back or belly fur with its hands and feet. With her baby on her back,
the mother can easily climb up a tree, run along a branch, and jump to
the next tree.
Kangaroos and other marsupials carry their dependent young
on their bellies in fur-lined pouches. For its first five months, a baby
kangaroo lives in its mother's pouch. When it leaves the pouch, it will
not stray far for the first few days. If it senses danger, it will run
back to its mother and jump into the pouch headfirst, whereupon the mother
departs rapidly on her strong hind legs.
Mother squirrels will grip their youngsters' droopy bellies
in their teeth. If a mother squirrel's nest is disturbed, she will carry
her young as far away as need be, taking them one at a time and returning
back to the old nest until all of them have been removed to safety.
Baby mice hold on tightly to the mother's nipples for hours
on end without letting go. In case of danger, the mother can drag her
offspring quickly away. The young have such a good grip on her that she
can run away without pausing to gather her infants together and placing
them securely between her legs. When danger has passed, she will return
to the old nest, just in case she might have left one behind.
When bats are roaming for insects or fruit, they will carry
their young with them throughout the night. A baby bat grips the nipple
with its milk teeth and holds on to its mother's fur with its claws. Some
bats can still fly with three or four young all holding onto their body.
Many species of birds will fly with their young. If a woodcock's
nest is endangered, the mother can quickly take off with her chick between
her legs. Rails, marsh hawks, and chickadees fly their young to safety
by carrying them in their beaks. Red-tailed hawks grip their young in
their talons, just as when they carry prey.
HOW DO THEY CARRY THEIR
Many species of animal remove their young
from danger, and each species has its own way of doing so. Lions
hold their cubs by their necks without injuring them. In case of
danger, the young kangaroo jumps headfirst into its mother's pouch.
Frogs, ducks, scorpions, bears and monkeys all carry their young
on their backs.
Grebes carry their young on their backs. If they spot danger,
they dive under water with their young still clinging on.
Tropical frogs can hop to safety while carrying their eggs
or tadpoles on their backs.
More interestingly, some fish carry their young to safety
in their mouths. A male stickleback guards and protects its offspring
by swimming around its nest made of water weeds. If one of the young strays,
the male fish will follow, suck it in into his mouth and release it back
at the nest.
Koalas carry their young
for over a year before they are ready to protect themselves.109
Monkeys can jump from tree to tree with their young on their backs.
For young bears, their mother's back is both safe and comfortable.
Ants carry larvae and developing eggs
in their jaws from one nursery chamber to another. Every morning, worker
ants carry the colony's larvae to a chamber near the top of the anthill,
where it's warmed by the sun. As the sun moves across the sky, the larvae
are transported from one side of the nest to the other. Come evening,
the workers carry them back down to a chamber at the bottom of the anthill
which has retained the sunlight's heat. At night, the entrance to the
nursery chambers is closed off in order to keep out cold air. In the morning,
the entrances are opened again, and the larvae are carried back up.110
As we see, all living things from lions to insects, frogs
to birds, carry their offspring to safety. For the parents, this is always
hard work and often endangers their own lives. How can such a strong protective
impulse be explained? We've examined in detail how many creatures take
on the responsibility of rearing offspring until they can fend for themselves.
They cater without fail to all their offspring's needs, and it is possible
to see examples of this devotional behavior in a wide variety of beings.
Once again, the obvious truth confronts us: Each of these
creatures is under the protection of God, Who inspires their behavior.
All act accordingly, bowing to His will. The Qur'an reveals this truth
in the following way:
Everyone in the heavens and earth belongs to Him. All
are submissive to Him. (Qur'an, 30: 26)