Hop to It!

From Issue: Discovery 4/1/2008

We can’t help but be awed and stand in wonder at the fascinating features of God’s creatures! Take, for instance, the kangaroo (and the many smaller family species like the wallaby, tree-kangaroo, wallaroo, pademelon, and Quokka). Unique to Australia, kangaroos are the only large animals that move from one place to another by hopping. The Red Kangaroo typically hops at 13-16 mph, but can speed up to 44 mph over short distances, and even sustain a speed of 25 mph for over a mile. God specially designed the kangaroo’s fast and energy-efficient method of travel. The kangaroo’s ability to regularly cover large distances in search of food and water is crucial to survival.

God also designed the kangaroo’s specialized teeth for grazing. Its incisors are able to crop grass close to the ground, while its molars chop and grind the grass. Since the two sides of the lower jaw are not joined together, the lower incisors are farther apart, giving the kangaroo a wider bite. The silicain grass is abrasive, so kangaroo molars move forward as they are ground down and eventually fall out, only to be replaced by new teeth that grow in the back.

The female kangaroo is especially known for her pocket pouch where her baby (known as a “joey”) lives until ready to be on its own. In times of drought and poor food sources, God made it possible for a mother kangaroo to slow down or stop the development of a new baby until the previous joey is able to leave the pouch. This action is known as diapause. God even designed the mother so she can vary the makeup of her milk according to the needs of the joey. In fact, she can produce two different kinds of milk at the same time for the newborn and the older joey still in the pouch. God is awesome!

But that’s not all. The kangaroo’s breathing is linked to its hopping action. As its feet leave the ground, air is expelled from the lungs. Bringing the feet forward for landing refills the lungs. Studies of kangaroos and wallabies show that, beyond the minimum energy needed to hop at all, their increased speed requires very little extra effort (much less than that of a horse, dog, or human). God made the kangaroo a model of energy efficiency. “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things” (Isaiah 40:26).


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