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Creation 29(4):28–30, September 2007

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Intriguing instincts


Many creatures perform the most amazing feats. For example, accurate migration routes of butterflies,1 turtles,2 birds3 and fish; navigation of ants;4 hitch-hiking by insects;5 and in nest designs of birds, web designs of spiders, and dam and lodge building of beavers.6 How do they manage this? Often, it is ‘explained’ by the catch-all term ‘instinct’, but this hides the ingenuity behind these behaviours.

Photo by stockxpert Bee
Bees know how to make a special food capable of miraculously turning an ordinary bee into a super bee—the queen.


Bees make use of some dazzling technology in the workings of the hive. Some of the larvae in the hive are fed a special food that the bees prepare (royal jelly) which performs the incredible feat of turning what would have been an ordinary bee into a larger and very different bee—a queen. How do the bees know they need queens and where did the nursery bees get the hi-tech recipe for royal jelly? Because bees only live a matter of weeks, it all has to work. Some bees in the hive are ventilation technicians—they hold on tight and buzz their wings until their wings eventually wear out. It is their life’s work to create a draught of fresh air through the hive. A bee also has a fascinating dance that tells her fellow workers where to find nectar,7 and an amazing navigation system that robotics engineers envy.8

Parental instincts

Nowhere do we see this life-and-death critical instinctive knowledge more dramatically displayed than in the lives of parents and their offspring.

‘Knowing’ that the time has arrived to give birth to her first litter of pups, the young wolf retreats to her prepared den where, as each cub is born, she ‘knows’ to chew the umbilical cord in half, wash the cub by licking, which stimulates her milk production and guide him to the teat where each cub knows to suck. How do mother and baby know what to do?
Photo by stock.xchng Beaver
Beavers, when their lodge is built, know to make a vent hole in the top to provide vital oxygen.

When a mother kangaroo gives birth to her joey, he is only about the size of the tip of a human little finger. Immediately he begins a monumental climbing journey from the birth canal through her fur to his mother’s pouch. Climbing down inside the pouch, he homes in on her nipple where he ‘locks on’ for the bumpy weeks ahead. In fact, he seals on so firmly that to pull him off would damage his mouth and his mother. The joey does not randomly crawl all over his mother’s body until he accidentally finds her pouch. Instead, he follows a plan of what to do to achieve a lock on, or he would quickly die—he is extremely vulnerable at this point (if he didn’t know what to do, then there would be no more ‘roos).9

Mr Mallee Fowl uses a compost heap of leaves to incubate eggs. He displays vital working knowledge of organic heating—produced by the decay in a compost oven. For example, the fowl uses solar heating—uncovering layers to heat in the sun; insulation—covering the heated layers to retain the heat and ventilation—if overheating occurs. He regularly probes the ‘oven’ to test the temperature and keep the eggs within the critical range to hatch.10 How did he learn all this? If he gets it wrong he may have to explain to his mate, ‘Honey I cooked the kids.’


Where are these creatures getting their knowledge, especially since the creatures don’t need to develop, learn or teach it? Clearly there are ‘software programs’ at work in all living things in addition to just the physical construction of the creature. And these programs are somehow passed on from generation to generation. But the origin of the programs speaks of a genius Programmer.

Posted on homepage: 8 August 2007


  1. Poirier, J., The magnificent migrating monarch, Creation 20(1):28–31, 1997. Return to Text.
  2. Sarfati, J., Turtles—reading magnetic maps, Creation 21(2):28–31, 1999. Return to Text.
  3. Catchpoole, D., Wings on the wind, Creation 23(4):16–23, 2001. Return to Text.
  4. Sarfati, J., Ants find their way by advanced mathematics, Journal of Creation 15(2):11–12, 2001. Return to Text.
  5. McQueen, R., Hitch-hiking insects, Creation 20(3):54–55, 1998. Return to Text.
  6. Dreves, D., Beavers, Creation 15(2):38–41, 1993. Return to Text.
  7. Doolan, R., Dancing bees, Creation 17(4):46–48, 1995. Return to Text.
  8. Sarfati, J., Can it bee? Creation 25(2):44–45, 2003. Return to Text.
  9. Driver, R., Kangaroos: God’s amazing craftsmanship, Creation 20(3):28–31, 1998; <creation.com/kangaroo>. Return to Text.
  10. Doolan, R., Peeping in on the thermometer bird, Creation 13(4):10–12, 1991. Return to Text.