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Natures Motherly Instinct

Updated on August 15, 2011

Nature’s Motherly Instints

I am addicted to animal shows, specifically those shown on the Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. Any programming that depicts nature at work has my undivided attention.

My son is mystified why I will often choose a show on the Nile crocodile, or the mating habits of the Asian elephant over the latest sitcom. I enjoy learning, more than hearing a joke that I will forget in 10 minutes.

I watch these shows and I am amazed that anyone could possibly doubt God’s existence. It's nature, nurturing at its best.

It is impressive to see how coordinated the animal kingdom is. No member is surplus. Each has a role in supporting the hierarchy of the group, from the hardest working Leaf Carrying Ant, to the most forceful, often hormonal teenaged African elephant. Each member has tasks – and they do them, not just for the good of their kind, but also for the permanence of their species.

I feel blessed to have given birth to two adorable, curious children. Anyone who has experienced the birth of a child will agree that there is nothing more astonishing as the birth of a child, and nothing more humbling than to see your genetic likeness live on.

After 9 months of feeling this little being squirm, stretch, and test the bounds of skins elasticity a tiny infant makes its way from the womb. It is nothing short of phenomenal. No one could witness the dawn of a new life and not be overcome by it.

Nine months maybe a long time for human moms to have to wait for a new child. Can you imagine being an expectant African elephant, and having to wait an average of 660 days - with swollen feet, to see a loveable 260 lb., 4 ft. bouncing bundle of joy?

The elephant has the longest gestation period of mammals, with the Blue Whale, the largest marine mammal coming in second, and carrying its calf for one year.

There is no comparison to Marsupials, who have the shortest gestational period. After 12 to 13 days, the tiny embryo excretes itself from its mother’s uterus. It must travel alone, without the help of its mother, upwards toward the mothers waiting pouch, or marsupium, where the name Marsupial originates.

The marsupial’s eyesight has not yet developed, and its body is no larger than the tip of your forefinger. It completely relies upon genetic instinct to guides its way. Once there it will attach itself to a teat, where it will remain for 8 - 10 months.

After 8 months the Joey, or baby marsupial, is now nearly as large as its mother and begins to venture out of the pouch for short periods. The Joey is relatively large, but is still fed by the mother, and still calls the marsupium home.

During times of drought, when food is sparse some animal species, (ie, bears, rodents and pandas) including the marsupial, have the ability to suspend, or freeze her Joeys development until food is available. This process is called embryonic diapause. When mother is comfortable with food availability, she will resume gestation.

The longest recorded animal gestation period is that of the Alpine salamander. This Salamander is found in the Swiss Alps. The length of gestation depends on the altitude at which the salamanders dwell. The higher the altitude the longer the gestation period. The average full term is 38 months. The altitude can cause a fluctuation of 2 to 3.5 years.

The salamander is a viviparous amphibian, meaning it produces offspring that develope within the mothers body. Mother produces an abundance of eggs, yet she gives birth to only one or two young. During gestation the fetus(s) will feed on the yolk of the unfertilized eggs, producing offspring that are 50mm, nearly half of mother salamanders 120mm length.

The evolution of animal birthing processes is nothing short of fascinating. It is delicate, and dangerous balance that will continue without the help of man, as it has since the beginning of species. No human can mimic it; and no professor can coach an animal in what is his natural inclination. Only God could come up with a process so precise, so succinct, so flawless.


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