Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 22 Number 6 August 2020
Page 8

The Incredible
Arctic Ground Squirrel

David Everson

David EversonWell, the deep freeze of winter is upon us and I found out again how uncomfortable clearing sidewalks is at -12 degrees, but that is what we expect in West Virginia winters. Winter is also hard on the creatures that God created, and He has designed them with some amazing methods of surviving the cold winter season. Let’s look at one such design in the arctic ground squirrel.

The arctic ground squirrel is one of many animals that God designed to survive in the extreme cold region we call the arctic, where temperatures regularly fall to -40° F to -50° F in winter. Yet, we find many animals God created with the ability to survive these temperatures. Some have especially designed hair to insulate the body, while others find a shelter and winter over in that special state we call hibernation. The arctic ground squirrel was designed with extreme physical features.

The arctic ground squirrel in the late summer and fall of the year begins to build body fat by foraging on tundra plants, seeds and fruits. By the end of the summer, the males will begin to store food in their burrows so that in spring they will have a reserve of edible food until new growth begins in late spring.

During the hibernation of the arctic ground squirrel, it can drop its brain to just above freezing and the rest of the body temperature to subzero. Its heart rate drops as low as one beat per minute. The arctic ground squirrel is basically frozen solid! This is a condition called “supercooling.” During the long seven to nine-month hibernation, the squirrel will periodically, once every two to three weeks, while it is still asleep, shiver and shake for 12 or more hours to create warmth to bring its body temperature back to normal of about 98° F. It does this using a part of the body called brown adipose tissue or brown fat. It will keep this body temperature for several hours to regenerate its brain, and then, it goes back to being frozen solid again. This is a very rare ability among mammals, and scientists are still trying to understand this physiological behavior that God has designed in the arctic ground squirrel.

Scientists are now studying the hibernation ability of the arctic ground squirrel and how its brain can survive this “brain freeze,” and it is hoped to help humans who suffer from neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When the ground squirrels hibernate, their brain neurons shrink, and many connections between neurons shrivel. However, it appears that the periodic warm up compensates for this loss with massive growth spurts, multiplying nerve links beyond what existed before it started its hibernation. It is still unclear to scientists how this happens, but many believe the answer may involve a protein named the tau protein. Normally tau proteins help stabilize long ropelike parts in the cell’s scaffolding called microtubules. Researchers have learned that the tau proteins build up in the brain cells of people with these neurodegenerative disorders. The tau proteins may also be involved with other disorders such as strokes and heart attacks.

 

So, in the design of the arctic ground squirrel, the master designer may have created the long desired answer to some of mankind’s most tragic neural disorders. I hope by looking briefly at this amazing animal, we can be more determined to believe and stand for the truth of God as the Creator of all things.

[Editor’s Note: Implied, regarding the contest between evolution and creation, is that the characteristics of the arctic ground squirrel could not have evolved over an extended period of time. The animal could not have survived in its environment without having these attributes immediately. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]


Putting on the Armor of God

Ronald D. Reeves

Ronald D. ReevesSomeone may have said, “Clothes make the man.” While we may hasten to express a variant viewpoint, some people will agree that one’s clothing certainly says something about the one so clothed. Such is generally true in life and is especially true in Christianity. If we want to better understand the character of one claiming to be a Christian, then may we observe his clothing, that is, his spiritual clothing. As we put on the new man and enter our new life in Christ (Galatians 3:27), we are admonished unto spiritual strength (Ephesians 6:10) and advised of the means of being spiritually empowered (6:11-20). We must put on the whole armor of God, enabling us to stand against the devil’s craftiness (6:11-13). By so doing, we will be able to stand firm, hold our ground in battle and successfully stand as we wield the sword of the Spirit in an honorable manner (6:14-20). May we personally make the effort to be immersed in the Word of God so that His armor will strengthen us according to our needs as we fight the good fight of faith. If we are ever to wear the armor of God, we must personally put it on; others cannot put it on for us. Yes, blessings await us in Bible study!


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