Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Is That Possible?

One, of potentially many, things in nature that our understanding of how "things came to be" has yet to comprehend is the case of giraffes. The beautiful, sleek and eloquent creature. By the way, did you know that the word ‘creature’ comes from the Latin word creatura[1], or more correctly, crĕātūra which in English is defined as;

I. a creature, thing created (late Lat.), Tert. Apol. 30; Prud. Ham. 508: omnes creaturae tuae, Vulg. Tob. 8, 7 .--

II. The creation: Deus caelorum et Dominus totius creaturae, Vulg. Jud. 9, 17 : Dei, id. Apoc. 3, 14 al.[2]

You may ask, “How is the giraffe any different then any other animal? Didn’t it evolve like all the rest?” Perhaps it did, however if we take a closer look at the giraffe that may not seem to be possible.

Have you ever thought about how long a giraffe’s neck is? I imagine that you have. Nearly every child that sees a giraffe is amazed at how long of a neck it has! That's a LONG away to the top! Have you ever given thought to how the giraffe takes a drink of water and what happens when it does? Well, as the giraffe bends over to reach the water on the ground, amount of pressure that the blood in its body is under would become much more than what is needed to make the blood go against gravity all the way up to its head when it stands upright. This would be somewhat comparable to when you would "stand on your head" as a child. Remember how that would begin to feel after a short time? "All your blood rushing to your head is not good for you!" (at least that's what my mother warned me about). You could actually feel the pressure increasing inside your head and if you did not remedy the posture, you could pass out.

So one of two things has to happen to keep the structures of the head from being damaged; either the blood pressure must rapidly be decreased as the animal drinks, or the animal must lose consciousness and fall to the ground. Now the former will significantly decrease survival chances while the later will allow the animal to drink and therefore, increase survival chances.

What does occur within the giraffe’s head to deal with this problem is really quite interesting. There is an organ and chamber that acts as a local blood pressure regulation mechanism. It appears to operate somewhat the reverse of the water regulator most houses have installed when they are built. The water reaches your house by rather low pressure. We need much higher pressures to make use of it within the structure of the building. The giraffe’s blood pressure is dealt with in the opposite way, taking the higher pressure and decreasing it significantly to be of benefit. Sounds easy to understand how that could be right?

Then my next question should be easy to answer, “How did that ‘happen’ to be?”. Without the higher blood pressure the long neck is not compatible with survival yet with the higher pressure and without the regulation mechanisms survival would not be possible either. How likely is it that both developed at the exact same time simply by chance? Humm, maybe it’s not so easy after all!

As the old saying goes, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

[1] "creature." Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 28 May. 2009. <Dictionary.com> http://dictionary.classic.reference.com/browse/creature accessed Thursday, May 28, 2009.

[2] "crĕātūra" Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary. Tufts University < perseus.tufts.edu> http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3D%2311509 accessed Thursday, May 28, 2009

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