Vol. 3, No. 6
In God's creation of the world, he created many unique and interesting animals. Each one of the creations is a testimony to his handiwork. The "submarine beetle" is a good example.
The salt-marsh beetle as it is more commonly known, is among a very small number of this earth's creatures that can inhabit the intertidal zone. The area of the ocean's coastline is alternately flooded with salt water and then exposed to air. This makes living in the habitat a very difficult problem. It is neither land nor sea but a mixture of both. And here the salt-marsh beetle was created to find its niche or way of living.
The salt-marsh beetle has no special features, like some living in the zone, that allow it to live in the intertidal zone. What it does have is a good building ability. It lives burrowed down in the sand in waterproof tubes. These tubes are designed to provide the ultimate in underwater living accommodations. About 2 and 1/2 inches deep, each contains a living chamber, a water disposal area and an egg chamber in the females burrow. The chamber must be dug into a very special type of mud called blue mud, which will hold its shape when sculpted into various shapes. The burrow entrance is dug at an angle which offsets the entrance from the burrow below. This is part of the answer for how the salt-marsh beetle keeps water out of the burrow when the tide comes in. But not even careful construction will keep the burrow totally dry, it requires some quick action. At the time the tide is about to break over the burrow and begins filling the chambers, the salt-marsh beetle grabs mouths full of mud and runs to the top and plugs the opening. This plug will be removed when the low tide returns so that the air can once again enter the chambers.
This unique construction is built by both males and females as they live separately. During the mating season, then the males venture out in search of females with which to breed. They visit burrow after burrow looking for receptive females. If caught outside of the burrow when a wave comes in, the males will arch their body over their heads which traps air in a small bubble, which he breathes until the water leaves if he can hold on against the surge of water. When he finds a receptive female, he will enter the burrow and mate then leave to look for another mate.
The female will then lay eggs in the small side chambers of which she has one for each egg to be laid. There they hang, all dry, snug and protected, while just inches above them is the ocean. The female does emerge from the burrow at low tide to collect algae, which it stores on the sides of the neck of the burrow for eating later.
This unique lifestyle is indeed among the most unusual that one can find. The majesty of the Creator can be seen in a creature as small as the salt-marsh beetle.
The old saying, "Oh what a tangled web we weave," refers to the mess into which we can get ourselves when we do not follow God's pattern for truthfulness. But, it also refers to one of the truly unique creations that man so far can only look at in amazement, the spider's silk used to make the spider's web.
Man has for many years taken notice of this substance that the spider makes. It is one of the most displeasing experiences to be walking in the woods or in an unused corner of the basement and run into a web with one's face. We have all "been there and done that," and most of us do not look forward to our next experience. However, in the spider's silk, scientists have uncovered one of the most amazing substances in the world and one that they would love to be able to copy.
Silk is found in many different animals in the world, but that found in the Arachnids or spiders is unique. Man has found ways to collect silk made by the larvae of the silk moth and to put it to good use for products used by man. If it could be collected, the spider's silk would be some of the most valuable material ever used by man. It is stronger than material man has devised. It is stronger than steel, Kevlar and any other natural product. As of yet, the collection of spider silk for use by man has eluded mankind since the spiders, when put in large quantities in one small area, tend just to eat each other! The mass production of this material for use in many applications would be a major breakthrough for mankind -- like none other made to date. Let's look at this most marvelous of materials and see how God has endowed the lowly spider with this amazing material.
The spider has a unique set of glands for the production of silk called spinnerets. Studies at the University of Aarhus in Denmark have revealed that the process is very much like the manufacture of nylon. The spider has a tube called duct through which the proteins that will become silk are squeezed. Before the proteins go into the duct, they are a liquid and would be of no use for the production of a web; but within the duct are specialized cells that draw water away from the silk proteins. Hydrogen is taken out of the water after leaving the silk duct and the hydrogen ions are pumped into the next section of the duct. These hydrogen ions are positively charged and cause an acidic condition to be established. This, in effect, causes an acid bath to occur within the silk duct. As the silk makes contact with the acid in this part of the duct, it hardens, and the proteins begin to form cross bridges with one another that harden the silk into the material that the spider then uses to spin its web.
Each of the 30,000 species of spiders produces a different type of web or at least uses its silk for a different purpose. Some use the silk to bungee jump from high places. Some spiders use the silk as a lifeline as they explore ways and places to find food. If the spider lowers itself into a dangerous situation, then it simply climbs the thread of silk that it has produced as it drops and gets itself back to a safe area. Young spiders are able to "balloon" or drift on light currents of air as they make their way to areas of other food, by producing silk and then acting like a kite as they are blown by the wind. And, unlike any material that man has ever made, the silky web of the spider being made of protein has another property; it can be eaten by the spider and recycled.
Chemists would love to be able to produce the spider's silk, either in a synthetic fashion or by recombinant gene technology, causing bacteria to make it. But, alas, the simplest of God's creations has so far eluded man's intellectual efforts to reproduce a substance that the evolutionist would want us to believe just came about by a random series of accidents. Indeed, "The fool has said in his heart there is not God."
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