And God Created …

The Spiny Anteater

David Everson

Job 39:1-3 “Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones...”

As God inquires of Job about some of the events in the lives of animals that lived around him, we see the true ignorance that has plagued man since he has been studying animals. These problems of ignorance still persist in many animal groups today such as whales and sharks, but we have uncovered some truly amazing mysteries and unusual creatures. Let us look at one of those most unusual creatures that God has designed, the Echidna.

The echidna or spiny anteater is truly amazing. Living in the scrub lands of Australia, it is one of only two mammals that are monotremes, or egg layers, but we will talk more about that later. This mammal is small, being about 4-6 inches long, and is covered with coarse hair and spines. It has short powerful legs with several long toes, which are used for digging. Spiny anteaters are related to the duckbilled platypus in that they are the only other egg laying mammals. They have snouts that serve as their mouth and nose and have very long tongues with which to catch their food which is ants, other small insects, and, for one species, small worms. The strong legs and toes help them to dig into anthills, tear open rotten logs, and dig into the ground to find their prey. Once they find the insect, then the sticky tongue is used to trap supper. This digging ability has been said to be so good that the echidna can dig as fast as a human with a shovel. They also use the digging as a means of protection as they dig into the ground to hide their soft under bellies and just leave the sharp spines exposed for the predator to tackle. They can also roll into a protective ball when they need to which, again, just leaves the thorny ball for the attacker to deal with.

Let us get back to how “...they bring forth their young ones...”  The echidna with its egg laying ability makes it one of the most unusual mammals that God created. The female will lay a single soft-shelled, leathery egg twenty-two days after mating. The mating ritual is also unusual with the female being “trailed” by 6 to 8 males who follow her in a line until she is ready to mate. When that time arrives, she will climb a tree and the males will dig a trench around her tree and fight and push for the opportunity to be the selected mate. The single egg is deposited directly into a pouch, much like the kangaroos pouch, and the egg will be carried for about 10 days until it hatches. After hatching the baby echidna or “puggle” will nurse on milk secreted from pores of two milk patches. The puggle will remain in the pouch for 45 to 50 days when it then starts to grow spines. It must then become a very uncomfortable passenger. The mother will then dig a nursery burrow, deposit the puggle, and return every 5 days to suckle it until it is weaned at about 7 months of age.

The echidna or spiny anteater is truly amazing, Job would be just like us today if God were to ask us, “Canst thou number the months that they fulfill? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?”  We may now have an understanding of the number of months, but how such a marvelous system could come about without a designer only leaves man to make up stories. Let us always praise and glorify our Creator. –Rt. 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250.

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