March 2000: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2



And God created every living creature from water. Some of them walk on their bellies, some walk on two legs, and some walk on four. God creates whatever He wills. God is Omnipotent. (24:45)

This verse clearly refers to all of God’s creatures but it specifically covers reptiles. Reptiles are a class of animals, made up of snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodilians and tuatara. The last is a rare, lizardlike reptile that lives only on a few islands near New Zealand. They are called living fossils since all the rest of their order is extinct, having died out millions of years ago. Why they survive, no one knows and little is known about them.

Much, however, is known and written about the other reptiles because we interact with them regularly, and like all of God’s creations there is much that is fascinating. There are more than 2500 species of snakes, about 2500 species of lizards, 250 different kinds of turtles, and about 22 different crocodiles.


Snakes live in most of the warm places in the world, ranging from harmless to deadly, from plain to colorful, from a tiny four inches to over 30 feet in length. Snakes do not have a good reputation. Biblical references to snakes are very negative since it’s a snake which tempted Eve to eat the apple and thus caused the downfall of mankind. And when Moses’ staff is turned into a serpent, he harbors fear. Plus, we have some pretty negative expressions in the English language taken from reptiles and reptile behavior. We call a cheating, conniving person a “snake in the grass”; a cowardly person “crawls on his belly”; a very

callous action is “in cold blood,” even the dictionary definition of snake includes: “a treacherous person.” A snake pit is a mental institution or any very dangerous place. But interestingly, for some cultures, the snake represents rebirth and renewal, perhaps because of its ability to shed its skin and thus start over.

With all the amazing variety of other animals, why did God create something that has to walk on its belly? It, of course, has a very important place in the food chain—eating large numbers of rodents, lizards and such, and being eaten by others. But more importantly, like all the other variety, I think it’s for us to study and marvel at. Part of the proof of God’s creation.

Snakes are fascinating in that, as God says, they walk on their bellies, with amazing agility. There are actually four quite different types of locomotion. The most frequently used method is the simple, undulating crawl, which is called the serpentine method. The snake pushes against the ground and flows smoothly forward, using muscles specifically designed for this. Heavier-bodied snakes may use a method called caterpillar where the skin is moved forward and backward by strong muscles, and the broad belly scales grip the ground, moving the snake forward in a straight line.

Several desert-dwelling species use sidewinding to move on loose sand. In this method the snake rolls its body sidewise along the ground in a looping motion. The fourth method is known as concertina, because the body is alternately stretched out and pulled together as the snake moves from one anchor point to another. The concertina is used in crossing smooth surfaces and in climbing. So they don’t actually walk, but they can move right along, some going as fast as 8 miles per hour.

Also fascinating are the adaptations God has provided which allow a snake to eat. You have to wonder how something that long and narrow can eat at all, let alone eat an animal that may be many times wider than the snake’s mouth. Although they have teeth, snakes cannot tear apart an animal and eat it in pieces. It must swallow its food whole, so the snake must actually decide whether or not he can get it down. Snakes eat everything from ants to rabbits, frogs, lizards, mice and eggs. Large snakes like anacondas and pythons may take down deer, antelope, crocodiles and even humans. Most normal sized meals are swallowed easily and quickly, but a truly large meal may require several hours to consume and weeks or months to digest. A python may eat only once a year.

God has provided several adaptations to make eating possible for snakes. A special hinge in the jaw allows the mouth to open wide enough and rows of teeth pointed back pull the food in. While swallowing very large animals, the snake would not be able to breath so God provided an additional organ, a tracheal lung, around the windpipe which allows lung function to continue in spite of the pressure, and the windpipe itself can be pushed outward past the animal being swallowed to allow air in.

With over 2500 species there is great variation in color, size and of course, how they interact with humans. One of the more deadly is the black mamba of Africa which grows to 14 feet in length and moves through trees as easily as through the tall grass. It can hold its head up to 20 inches off the ground even as it moves. It’s considered the fastest snake in the world and has a very deadly bite, with 100 % mortality. The victim dies very quickly, within minutes.

Cont’d on page 3