When most people hear someone mention rat poison, they immediately think of poisons that are used to kill rats.  But have you ever heard of a rat using poison to defend itself?

The African crested rat, Lophiomys imhausi, does exactly that and it has scientists baffled.  Until recently many believed this rat to be poisonous and there are reports of dogs dying shortly after trying to pick one up in its mouth.

This large, grey, bushy rat lives in the northeast areas of Africa where the poison arrow tree, Acokanthera schimperi, grows.  For years, various African tribes have used the sap from this tree to tip their arrows with a poison strong enough to bring down a full grown elephant.  The poison causes an increased heart rate and in sufficient doses can cause the heart to beat so fast that the animal or person dies of a heart attack.

Researchers have recently discovered that the African crested rat chews the roots and bark of this deadly tree to get to the poison.  It then spreads the poison along a ridge of very unique hairs along its flanks.  These specialized hairs soak up the poison similarly to the way the wick of a candle absorbs oils for burning to insure that the hair is fully saturated with the deadly toxin.  To date, these specialized hairs are unlike any known hairs on any other animal.  The rest of the rats hairs are just like any other mammals hair and the rat does not place any poison on the normal fur.  When faced with a predator, the rat bristles up these special hairs to expose them to the predator and remains still instead of running away.  If the predator starts to grab the rat in its mouth, it can get a lethal or near dose of poison.

There are two things about the African crested rat that have evolutionary scientists baffled.  One is how the rat does not seem to be affected by the deadly toxin as it chews the poison laden roots and bark.  Secondly they’re not sure how, as they put it: this unusual evolutionary relationship between predator, plant and prey, came about.

It has to make one wonder how evolutionists would explain either of these traits evolving. You end up asking questions like:

  • How many rats died before they developed their apparent immunity to the poison?
  • What would make a rat want to chew on something toxic in the first place?
  • How did the row of unique, one-of-a-kind hairs evolve so differently from the rest of the fur?
  • How did the rats know to coat only those special hairs with the poison?
  • How did the rats think up the idea of using the poison from the tree as a defense mechanism?
  • How many rats died standing their ground against predators before they      perfected how best to use the poison?

And there are probably more questions about this curious rat and its behavior that beg to be asked from an evolutionary standpoint.

From a biblical standpoint, we would have to consider the likelihood that the original rat kind, created by God, carried the genetic information for these traits.  Over time, most of the rats in the world lost that information as they spread out and became separated.  The African crested rat retained that information and uses it to protect itself.

Is there any other logical explanation to explain it?  Not that I can see.

Reference

Morelle, Rebecca.  African Crested Rat Uses Poison Trick to Foil Predators, BBC news.com, Aug. 3, 2011

Worship Not the Creature: Animal Rights and the Bible


Worship Not the Creature: Animal Rights and the Bible delivers the most forthright and engaging presentation of the Biblical view of animals in print. J. Y. Jones, long an accomplished physician, scholar, writer, outdoorsman, hunter, and man of God, is uniquely qualified to offer his cutting-edge treatment of this controversial topic. Don’t let the down-to-earth, diverting and friendly style fool you. Just as Americas wise Founding Fathers discovered latent tyranny in a penny tea tax, Dr. Jones powerfully exposes the radical political agenda of the contemporary animal rights movement. With careful argument, he reveals the animal rights movement as a potentially significant menace to liberty and even to Christianity itself. Adding Dr. Joness able apologetic for the Christian faith in reasoned and transparently personal terms, one should prepare for a rich, compelling, and enjoyable read.

About the Author: An eye physician and surgeon for almost forty years, Dr. Jones is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has received numerous awards for writing and photography. He is a frequent speaker at wild-game suppers and other sportsmens events, and particularly enjoys sharing his Christian testimony. He has volunteered in twenty-three overseas eye-surgery mission trips. He is fluent in Spanish and conversational in Russian. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1964.

Endorsements:

It seems our politics parallel our theology. Dr. Jones demonstrates how we have allowed the distinction between Creator God and His creation to be blurred or forgotten. I see a very relevant parallel in the way the tenets of American government have also been marginalized as we allow government employees and politicians to contend for unconstitutional disarmament of American citizens. Jones rightly sees this attempt to transfer sovereignty from the people to the government as apocalyptic. — Larry Pratt (Executive Director, Gun Owners of America)

This book is so gripping that I found it difficult to put down. I have known Dr. Jones for many years as a physician, hunter, author, and close friend. He and his wife Linda were frequent guests in our home in Washington, D.C., when I was in the U.S. House of Representatives, attending the National Prayer Breakfast and State of the Union Address, among other activities. His beliefs are deep-seated and convincing. Anyone should find this read to be thought-provoking and intensely interesting. — Hon. J. Roy Rowland (Six-term Congressman, Dublin, GA)

Very rarely does a book come out that tackles such an important topic confronting our culture, an issue that is subtle and confounding to many. Dr. Jones does an insightful job of communicating the deception of the animal activist movement that is threatening the very essence of the Judeo-Christian worldview. This is the first book I have read that endeavors to present a true Biblical response to the animal rights agenda. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand this insidious movement and the Biblical viewpoint a Christian should have toward it. — Dr. William Franklin Graham IV (Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn.)

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