Heavenly Creatures

Angels are real and I have photographic proof.

People love whales and dolphins because we can witness them and, no question, these creatures are certainly glorious. But in the remote depths of the ocean live some exotic, spectacular, animals which are beyond imagination. In these regions the animal and plant population is thin allowing for tremendous experimentation in form and function. Many are transparent and often feature tiny power plants energizing their own personal lighting systems.

One of my favorites is the sea angel, a creature of almost supernatural beauty.

Another unlikely animal is the electric flame scallop. This mollusk looks like it was designed by Pixar. And did you know that scallops have eyes and so do some clams. What? Eyes? Yes. Not just eye-like organs but eyes with optic nerves and some species even have lenses.

So why are the shellfish looking at their environment? It’s the same reason we humans do; to watch for predators. And maybe a cute boy scallop sees a cute girl scallop and winks in her direction, or maybe I’m being scollop-perbolic.

To me it seems like the great deeps (Melville called it “the deeps”) are where evolution lets it rip and uses the conditions of darkness, cold and pressure to speculate. There’s plenty of innovation on land too, of course, it’s just that we are more familiar with it.

In fact, there are a great many amazing animals all around us that go unnoticed. My favorite ultra-tiny flying animal is a wasp so diminutive it could fly through the eye of a needle. They were the smallest flying insects known at 0.19 of a millimeter long until the 0.15 mm Kikiki wasp was discovered in 2019. I’m sorry my gal lost the title because it is charmingly named the Tinkerbella. Both of these micro-creatures are known as fairy wasps.

Animals, plants and fungi, all have their ways of being. I like Robert Frost’s analysis of how the ant, Jerry McCormick, went about his business.

Robert Frost reads about Jerry McCormick

And this brings us to kids and other wild animals. Kids are often given goldfish in bowls. In some places there are laws prohibit keeping goldfish in spherical bowls. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/rome-bans-cruel-goldfish-bowls-1.556045 To give a kid or anyone else a fish in a spherical bowl in Rome, Italy is a crime because it’s said to warp the fish’s sense of self due to the small size of the bowl and the distortion of the world with a lensing-effect. It seems that they didn’t consider that the fact that a uniform thickness of curving glass does not result in a lens and in any case I would imagine that the fish is going to be pretty confused by all that goes on in a child’s room. The legislators also claimed that swimming in circles can cause the goldfish to go blind.

There seems to be no documentation that goldfish have much intellectual capacity to reduce. In that their main occupation is to eat and swim in circles, you would think that a round bowl would be their first choice. There is zero evidence as to the veracity of any of this nonsense and in any case you would need a double blind study on goldfish going blind which sounds both hard to do and a bit comical.

Some parents give their kids live fish to teach them about death.

Go to 1:55 minutes in

I say get it over with by taking them to a slaughterhouse or buy them an ant farm. Until video games every kid in the world had an ant farm. It’s considered a human right…I think.

But much like being a Shaker there is no future for the ant farmer. The Shakers were a religious sect that left England in the mid-1700s for America so they could freely practice their religion. Several Shaker communities “thrived” in New England until the mid-20th century. They were farmers (not ant) and woodworkers who made uncomfortable furniture. They hung their ladderback chairs from pegs on the walls because their houses were small and they needed room to dance. For real.

There are no more Shakers (they take the term from the idea that they ‘shook’ in the presence of God) because they frowned on sex, so they eventually died out. Funny thing is they were actually crazy for dancing and shakin all over in a paroxysm of what we used to call ‘spazzing out.’

Shakers cutin’ it hard!

An ant farm is similar to a Shaker community. The ant farm consists of two sheets of clear plastic with flat plastic farm buildings and a bag of sand. Then you send for live red ants and once they arrive you chill them like white wine (to slow them down) and install them in their new home. From there you feed them water and cookies. Not a healthy diet for a human, even a Shaker. Once installed the ants go to work digging tunnels and as the brochure states, “ They have a lot of free time to socialize.” Like the Shakers, they raise hell and shun sex.

The problem arises when they go to make baby ants. First, there is no such things as a baby ant. Ants are born full sized and are the result of a queen ant laying eggs. But the ant farm folks don’t trust us with queens so the child’s ant farm is the end of the line for these inmates.

If you are a particularly imaginative child (or tripping hard on shrooms [or both]) you can envision an underground warren of nightclubs, restaurants, movie theaters and bowling alleys. But soon these little Jerry McCormicks start to literally bite the dust one after another. As the party winds down and the music fades the survivors systematically haul the corpses to a catacomb and stack them neatly until there’s a single ant left valiantly dragging his penultimate comrade to the tomb. Then he alone is left prowling the silent halls. As a kid I remember one little red fellow lived several weeks beyond his comrades, wandering confusedly up and down the silent halls making a long slow march to eternity.

Talk about a great lesson for a child. It illustrates that you can get a full-time job digging ditches and eating cookies and then die publicly in front of some bored kid before having your entire world tossed in the garbage. Hey, it could have been worse: you could have had your world distorted by living in a round bowl before being flushed down the toilet. Not exactly a pharaoh’s send off for these creatures.

But hey, we all might still get to heaven. I’m sure the pharaohs did.

EASTER EGG Here are some other spectacular creatures:

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