Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | September 13, 2017

Kepler Lives to Tell the Tale

(4 Minute Read)

BibleScienceGuy & Kepler
On boardwalk over the bog

Woof! Woof! This is Kepler again, Master’s Parson (Jack) Russell terrier. I’m writing another article for Master’s blog.

Master is the BibleScienceGuy, and he asked me to tell about this week’s adventure. I have to interrupt my series on bird eggs to tell how Master saved my life.

Sometimes I wish Master would just let me walk alongside him without using a collar and leash, but from now on I won’t fuss so much about them. This week they were the tools Master used to save my life.

Master and Missus took Henry and me on a nature hike in the woods. We walked along a boardwalk over a swampy bog.

Master said that technically the wetland we visited was a fen and not a bog, but I’m going to call it a bog. Both have peat layers, but what distinguishes them from each other is the water source. Typically, bogs are depressions filled with rain water, whereas fens are fed by a steady source of ground water.

There were so many new interesting smells emanating from the bog. I also saw a new plant I’d never seen before with red and green leaves shaped like pitchers. Master said the pitcher plants were fairly rare, and they actually eat small creatures. But I’m a Jack Russell terrier; I’m ready for anything.

Kepler prepares to leap off
the boardwalk into the bog.

I wondered what was inside the huge leaf pitchers. I just had to investigate. Here I am just before I jumped off the boardwalk as I contemplated how to look into the smells and plants in the bog.

Well, you know what happened. I jumped in, despite Master’s command to sit. I just had to check out some things down there.

As I scrambled toward the pitcher plant, I started to sink into the muck. The muck kept me from falling into the pitcher plant; it wanted to eat me, I am sure. But I didn’t want the bog to eat me either.

Now I was scared and thrashing around trying to get back to safety. Missus was screaming. But I heard Master rumble, “Kepler, settle.” So I stopped struggling and let him pull me toward the boardwalk with my leash. Missus was kneeling on the boardwalk, trying to grab my tail to pull me out that way. But Master reached down, grabbed me around my chest, and pulled me out of the muck up onto the boardwalk. He saved me from the bog and from those hideous pitcher plants.

Missus couldn’t believe what a mess I was. But I shook vigorously, sending swamp water and marsh grass and mud flying all over Master and Missus and Henry. You guessed it — Missus started shrieking once more. Then Henry shook, flinging the bog slime around all over again.

Here is a picture of the carnivorous pitcher plant that tried to eat me. There were lots of them in the marshy bog.

Carnivorous Pitcher plant

The pitcher plant that almost got me uses a “pitfall trap.” It has a large rolled leaf with a pool of rain water and digestive enzymes at the bottom. Downward pointing hairs on the inside of the “pitcher” inhibit attempts by prey to climb out, and they eventually drown and are digested. Anything that falls into the pitcher or goes down it to investigate (like I wanted to do) is a goner.

Also, a waxy surface on the inner wall of the pitcher makes it extra difficult for this plant’s prey to get out. I’m so glad Master was there to save me so I didn’t end up trapped there, being digested by pitcher plant enzymes.

I asked Master why the pitcher plant tried to eat me. I had never seen a carnivorous plant before. Normally I eat plants; they don’t try to eat me. (Potatoes, green beans, and squash are some of my favorites!)

Master told me he too was amazed by the first carnivorous plant he saw, a Venus flytrap. When he was a small boy, his father brought one home to show the family.

Fine hairs inside the plant’s leaf pod trigger it snapping shut. It would snap shut on flies and digest them before gradually opening back up.

Master told me that he has considered keeping Venus flytraps in our camper to trap the flies who hitch rides with us. I’m all for that!

Master said the Venus flytrap is pretty complicated. An insect has to touch trigger hairs twice within about 20 seconds to snap the trap; this is to help prevent closing on non-nutritive objects like leaf fragments. The trap snaps shut in a tenth of a second. Digestion only starts after five more trigger hair touches to ensure that a live bug has been caught. No man-made animal traps are anywhere near this sophisticated.

Venus Flytrap
Leaf trap showing trigger hairs

Master said that there are almost 600 different species of carnivorous plants. These are plants that attract, trap, kill, and eat prey, ranging from insects to small mammals.

Carnivorous plants use a variety of mechanisms to catch prey. In addition to pitfall traps (pitcher plants) and snap traps (Venus flytrap), there are flypaper traps (sticky leaves), bladder traps (internal vacuum that sucks in prey), and lobster traps (inward-pointing hairs force prey toward a digestive chamber and prevent backing out).

Later I asked Master why the Creator made carnivorous plants. And why did He make so many different types of carnivorous plants with such varied traps?

Master said every plant and creature glorifies and testifies of its Creator simply through its existence, because every effect has a cause. Just as human creators like artists, authors, and inventors are honored through their works, so the Great Creator is glorified by each of His creations simply, though not solely, by its existence.

The multitude of carnivorous plants and the variety of traps are due to the abundant creativity and genius of the Great Creator. Just as we are most amazed by an inventor who produces a wide variety of inventions, so the tremendous variety of the Great Creator‘s works abundantly testifies to His superlativeness.

All the structural and chemical parts of the pitcher plant testify of a Designer and Creator, for they could not have arisen by chance accident. If any single part were missing, the whole incredibly complex system would be useless.

I’m a dog, but even I know that the pitcher plant that tried to eat me did not arise by chance. Someone had to design that trap that almost got me. Someone designed all the complex processes (like photosynthesis) by which the pitcher plant lives.

So that’s how things look from the Dog House. I’m still alive!

Till next time, this is Kepler signing off. Woof! Woof!

Questions to Ponder

1. Have you ever fallen into danger due to foolishness or impetuousness?
2. How is a near disaster often a profound learning opportunity?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the 20th article in a series of blog posts on a precocious Jack Russell terrier named Kepler. Numbers 1-8 are by Kepler’s master, the BibleScienceGuy. Numbers 9-21 are by Kepler himself.
Read the prequels:
1. Why I Named Our Puppy “Kepler”
2. Kepler’s Kind
3. Kepler’s Lopsided Trade
4. Kepler’s Amazing Nose
5. Kepler’s Business Card
6. Kepler & the Psycho Squirrel
(with video)
7. Taunting Kepler
8. Adam and Puppies

The following posts are by Kepler:
9. Who Taught Kepler?
10. Kepler Gets a Buddy
(with video)
11. Kepler Chases a Squirrel (with video)
12. Kepler’s Complaint
13. Kepler’s To-Do List
14. Kepler and the Football Weekend
15. Kepler’s Favorite Store
16. Kepler at a Truck Stop
17. Kepler & Henry Catch a Squirrel
18. Kepler Finds Killdeer Eggs
19. Kepler Finds Robin Eggs

Read the sequel:
21. Kepler, Bears, & Raccoons

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday September 13, 2017 A.D.

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?
(Job 12:7-10)

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Responses

  1. There is one thing about carnivorous plants that puzzles me. In the original creation all animals were vegetarians. Were some plants already carnivorous or did they have some other source of food?

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. You raise a good question. While we do not know very much about what the pre-Fall world was like, here is one possibility regarding carnivorous plants in the pre-Fall world. Originally they may have been designed to help recycle the waste products of other animals. Here is a BBC article reporting on research reflecting this possibility: Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo. Everything changed after Yahweh’s curse following Adam’s sin, including no doubt carnivorous plants.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting, exciting, educational, and meaningful for young and old alike. Thanks Kepler.

    Like

    • Thanks, Mr. Clif. I appreciate your encouraging comment. You had to be there to know how exciting, and for me terrifying, it really was. But I’m working with Master on a way for me to safely go back and look inside the pitcher to see what’s down there — like what got trapped. Woof! Woof! — Kepler.

      Like

  3. Bill, glad to hear that Kepler survived that scare. Thank him for making us aware of the danger of a bog and a fen. I have been aware from my youth of the dangers of falling through the surface of a bog, but never would have considered the danger to Kepler’s Hungarian friend Sanna, who as a hunting dog is allowed to explore most wilderness off leash. It is very frightening to think about the potential hazard.

    Like


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