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Originally published in Creation 17, no 1 (December 1994): 33-36.
Learn about some living creatures that can fly, including bats and seagulls, and also learn about the weird and wonderful seals!
Three kinds of living creatures can fly — insects, birds, and mammals (bats). We know that aircraft have to be specially designed and built to fly, but people who believe in evolution tell us that flying animals gradually evolved over millions of years from ancestors that could not fly. Is there any evidence that this idea is true?
Bats are the only mammals which can fly. Four of their fingers are extra long to hold their wings, which open like an umbrella. Evolutionists say that the ancestors of bats were something like mice or shrews, and that gradually they grew wings, so that eventually they were able to fly. But the oldest fossil bat ever found is just like modern bats — there is nothing half-way between a shrew and a bat!
It is difficult to imagine a mouse-like animal gradually evolving wings. Before the wings were complete they would have only been in the way, and would have been a real nuisance, as the animals would not be able to walk properly or fly.
Bats are special in other ways, too. Many have a wonderful system called echo-location to help them fly even when it is dark. It works like the sonar used by submarines, where sound-waves are bounced off objects to find how far away they are. Bats also use it to help them catch insects.
All the known evidence shows that bats have always been bats
Father looked up from the morning's mail. 'This is from Uncle Joe and Aunt Ann. They want us to stay with them for two weeks at Easter.'
Tom and Jenny's faces fell. 'But they usually come here. They like exploring the wood', objected Tom. 'They live in a high-rise apartment right in the town. There's nothing to do.'
'Do we have to go?' asked Jenny gloomily.
'Jenny!' Mother was horrified. 'That's not the right attitude! It's kind of them to ask. We shall thank them, and you will be friendly with David and Debbie.'
Tom and Jenny, who were keen naturalists, were still disgruntled when the time came to go, and even more depressed when they reached the apartments, which had only a little grass around them.
'I'm glad I don't have to live here', muttered Tom.
But the family was pleased to see them, and after a good tea, suggested a walk in the park. Cousin Debbie carried a mystery bag. On a lake was a smart Mallard drake with his wife and four fluffy ducklings. A moorhen dabbled nearby, and two swans sailed gracefully along.
Suddenly Tom exclaimed, 'I can hear seagulls!' And the big, white birds wheeled through the air. 'Watch!' said Debbie. She held up some pieces of bacon rind. A gull swooped and took it. They dived and squawked until it was all gone.
'What are they doing here, so far from the sea?' asked Jenny, puzzled.
'They live off the refuse tip over there', explained David. 'Hundreds come in the winter, and a lot never go back. They think those factories are cliffs, and so they nest there. You can see black-backed and black-headed gulls.'
'What are those brown ones?' asked Tom.
'They are first-year black-backs. They will change to black-and-white now.'
'I didn't expect to find seagulls!' said Tom.
'Or blue tits?' asked Auntie Ann. 'See that crooked branch in this oak tree? At the bend it's hollow, and the blue tits nest in it. They had at least ten babies last year.'
They walked around the lake to a magnificent cedar tree. Debbie opened her bag and threw out some sunflower seeds. Very soon a squirrel ran down and began eating, obviously expecting food.
'That flat tangle of branches is their winter home, or drey, but look up in that ash tree!'
High up was a leafy nest. 'That's the drey where they have their babies', Auntie explained.
'Why, you have really wild things here too!' Tom was astonished.
'Yes! Foxes live on the railway bank, and they overturn dustbins to find food.'
'There's a blackbird's nest in that bush, and of course, sparrows on our roof', added David.
'You're real naturalists!' said Tom. 'And I thought there was nothing around here but grass!'
'Wait till tomorrow!' said Auntie Ann.
'Our Heavenly Father has His furry and feathered friends everywhere, and He loves all of us!'
Tom and Jenny returned home with a very different view of life in the town.
You may have seen performing seals at a zoo or sea-life centre. Seals can be taught some very clever tricks, but some of the things they do when they are in the wild are even more remarkable.
Seals are pinnipeds (aquatic mammals), and they spend much of their time in the sea. Most of them live amid the ice and snow of the Antarctic, and to keep warm they have a thick layer of insulating fat under their skin, called blubber. Some seals spend much of their time under the ice, because the water is warmer than the air above, and they bite breathing-holes in the ice.
Seals are wonderful divers, catching fish in the dark depths of the sea. They often dive to 800 metres (2,600 feet), and can stay underwater for as long as two hours without coming up for air. The deepest dive on record is an amazing 1,257 metres (4,135 feet) by an elephant seal! Seals can dive down to where the pressure of the water is very great, and then return to the surface quickly without coming to any harm. If human divers tried to do this they could die from a disease called 'bends', caused by bubbles of nitrogen in their blood. So they have to spend time in a 'decompression chamber' to get their bodies used to the lower air pressure.
Seals are specially designed to enable them to dive and resurface quickly. They completely empty the air from their lungs before diving, but they do have extra oxygen stored in their blood and their muscles, so that their body is not starved of oxygen. As they dive, their heart beats much more slowly than usual, using much less oxygen, and their ears are protected from the high pressure by special blood vessels, which are filled when diving.
Evolutionists tell us that seals evolved from bear-like animals which lived on the land. But if this were true, their ancestors would have had to turn their hind legs around to use as a rudder (seals don't have a whale-like tail to push themselves through the water).
There are no fossils showing that seals evolved from anything. God created them much the same as they are. And a great job He made of it, too!