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Creation 38(4):43, October 2016

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Cannibal deer!

Eating meat is a lifestyle choice—even for animals

by

cannibal-deer

Since God created both humans and animals to eat only plants in the beginning (Genesis 1:29–30), where do meat-eaters come from? One fascinating example of a plant-eater consuming meat comes from reports from hunters in America that whitetail deer were eating animal remains.1

Hunters have noted for some time that deer have been spotted ‘nosing around’ the remains of previously shot and field-dressed deer (commonly called ‘gut piles’). Until recently, hunters generally assumed the deer were just trying to find mushrooms or apples that happened to be nearby.

Researchers were curious and decided to monitor carcasses over three years using trail cameras, and confirmed that deer actually do eat meat from these carcasses.2 Further, some deer have been discovered killing and eating songbirds trapped in netting.3

This study provides further evidence that many normally herbivorous creatures will engage in opportunistic carnivory.4 There are other examples of known herbivores which become active carnivores, hunting animals for food. For example, in New Zealand the kea, a type of parrot, often attacks sheep.5

The evidence shows that animals can move from a herbivorous diet to eating meat without any physical changes to accommodate carnivory. This indicates that many structures which we normally associate with eating plants and seeds can be used effectively as weapons to attack other animals, and animals can move back and forth between these lifestyles as circumstances change. Conversely, many normally-herbivorous creatures have structures associated with carnivory like sharp teeth and claws, such as the bamboo-eating panda—although they have been recorded eating meat as well.5

Observations like these corroborate the biblical account of origins, where all animals were originally plant-eating, and only moved toward a lifestyle of carnivory after the Fall.6 One possibility is that many seemingly carnivorous design features were used for other purposes prior to the Fall. When a creature’s features seem explicitly designed for carnivory, e.g. jellyfish stings with a catapult mechanism,7 God may have pre-programmed them to ‘switch on’ after the Fall, according to His foreknowledge.

God also promises us an eventual return to an Edenic state, where the “wolf shall dwell with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6).8 Near the end of the Bible, we see that death, disease, suffering and carnivory will all come to an end, because the Curse will be lifted and the Tree of Life will flourish (Revelation 21:4, 22:2–3).9 As Christians we may joyfully look forward to that day!

References and notes

  1. Howlett, D., Carnivorous Deer, outdoorlife .com, accessed 5 May 2016. Return to text.
  2. Mulligan, D., Undercover omnivores espn.go.com, 14 October 2009. Return to text.
  3. Bittel, J., The violence of the lambs: animal vegetarians who dabble in flesh, earthtouchnews.com, 23 January 2015. Return to text.
  4. See creation.com/carnivory. Return to text.
  5. Wild panda spotted eating meat in China, telegraph.co.uk, 30 December 2011. Return to text.
  6. See Sarfati, J., When did animals become carnivorous? creation.com/carnivory-fall, 31 August 2014. Return to text.
  7. Catchpoole, D., Skeptics challenge: a ‘God of love’ created a killer jellyfish? Creation 25(4):34–35, 2003; creation.com/killer-jellyfish. Return to text.
  8. Gurney, R., The carnivorous nature and suffering of animals, J. Creation 18(3):70–75, 2004; creation.com/carniv. Return to text.
  9. Cosner, L. and Bates, G., The new earth: Christ’s victory over the Fall, creation.com/new-earth, 20 April 2014. Return to text.

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