Part 1 - Superior Intelligence Behind Migration
Animals leave their current habitat for suitable environments at the most suitable times. Each of the hundreds of species of migrating animals all over the world, from smallest to the largest, change their habitats in accord with the most hospitable times and locations. It is a clear miracle that animals always get to the right place without getting confused or going astray.
First, a migrating creature must decide to set off to reach the right place. Next, it has to establish the most advantageous time to do this. Animals' perfect timing varies according to the kind of journey they undertake. Moving to a new environment with no intention of returning is called one-way migration, of which the best example is the honeybee. When the bees in a colony become so numerous that the hive is overcrowded, they decide to divide the colony—usually at the end of spring or the beginning of summer. It is remarkable that these little animals can decide whether the environment they live in is no longer suitable, that they need to establish a new hive and then determine out the best season to do this in. Another miraculous aspect is that sometimes, tens of thousands of bees manage to decide without any confusion which of their members should leave the hive.
For the floating larvae of many kinds of crabs and shrimps, it is problematic to form colonies in their new habitat. These little creatures live in the estuaries of bays and so, to avoid being carried out to sea, they have to keep constantly on the move. Their success in doing so lies in their ability to gauge the tides. As the water level rises, the larvae move up and down again as the tide goes out, to stay in the estuary. To perform this seemingly simple operation, the larvae need an important piece of information.
The times of high and low tide are 50 minutes later every day. Although you might think that the larvae would not be able to calculate the continuously changing times for the tides, they have no difficulty in doing so. The tiny larvae, whose development is not yet complete, calculate this rhythm with great expertise.
These are only two examples of migrating animals' timing ability. It's of course hard to believe that these creatures owe these talents to their own knowledge and experience. Who determines when and where they will move? Who gives them this skill?
Some scientists have determined that this timing is due to an internal clock, but they are overlooking an important point. How is it that such a dependable clock, which never stops or breaks down, has developed in animals with the ability to migrate, and manages to operate in even the smallest member of each species? Who bestowed such an ability on all these creatures? Evolutionary scientists claim that this perfect mechanism has developed over time, that is to say, living creatures have developed this skill through blind coincidence, which they refer to as the so-called evolutionary process. This claim is undoubtedly ridiculous. Naturally this skill, whose importance will be shown through various examples in this book, cannot be the product of coincidence. It is not possible for blind chance to produce any skill based on such fine calculations, and that indicates the presence of a great consciousness. It is Almighty God that creates this skill and bestows it on the creatures of His choice. God is the master of all things, from the heavens to the Earth:
Everything in the heavens and everything in the Earth belongs to God. All matters return to God. (Surah Al Imran, 109)
Compared with most animals, humans seem to have a rather poor sense of direction. We can again take the honeybee to make a comparison. When foraging bees return to the hive, they explain to the other bees with "body language" exactly where they found the food. Following their directions, the other bees find their way to the new site as easily as if they had already been there. It is not so easy for humans to find a place they do not know, however well it is described to them. They always risk going the wrong way or getting lost. To reduce this risk, road signs are erected to show the way, streets and avenues are legibly named, and detailed maps are printed. But no migrating creature has such advantages, nor indeed has any need of them. For most migrating creatures there are no signs to show the way, there is not even another creature to give directions to the destination.
Creatures Programmed to Find Their Way
When an animal sets off on its journey, factors different from the ones that guide humans come into play. Each migrating species has a different method of finding and following a route. Broadly speaking, however, birds make use of the Sun, the stars and the Earth's magnetic field; and fish make use of chemical scents in the water coming from rivers. Naturally, they require expertise to evaluate the available data and arrive at a conclusion. Getting to the right destination using only the stars, or traces of river chemicals are tasks that few people could manage. This brings to mind a series of questions that need to be answered:
- How do these animals know in which direction from their current location lie suitable habitats, breeding and feeding grounds? - The moment an animal comes into the world, how can it decide that a far-off place it has never seen is a suitable environment? - How have animals discovered that they can use the stars and the Sun to find their way? - Who teaches them how to do so, from the time they enter the world?
The common answer to these questions is that animals are not capable of any of these feats on the strength of their own intelligence and knowledge. The information they possess to undertake such a journey is given them before they are born. They are programmed. In that case, who is their programmer? It is God, of course, Who knows all. Their Creator and the Creator of all things inspires these skills in them. Any efforts to explain this by the imaginary evolutionary theory are eternally doomed to failure.
Ants that use the Sun as a reference can find their way without getting lost, due to the abilities they have been given. However, the Sun moves at an angle of approximately 15 degrees an hour, which makes using it as a reference point more difficult. But on their way home, these little insects establish their current location by taking into consideration how long they've been outside and the angle by which the Sun's position has changed, to find their way back to the nest without going astray. Honeybees, too, are able to know the movements of the Sun and make estimates accordingly. If these bees have found a food source in a south-easterly direction by the end of the day, in the morning before setting off again, they calculate how much the Sun has changed position and move in the correct direction toward the food source. From the moment they emerge from pupation, they need the knowledge of how to be guided by the Sun and make calculations based on the position of that moving heavenly body. Without such knowledge, they could not survive, and their species would die out.
Deserts feature vast tracts of sand with no distinguishing features. The surface is so hot and dry that in most places it is impossible for weeds or scrub to grow. Consequently there are no tracks or signs for finding the way. Any rare footprints that may exist on the sand can be erased in minutes due to the wind. Scent trails are scorched and all trace of aroma evaporated from the sand by the burning heat. This difficult desert terrain is home to the desert ants (Cataglyphis), whose underground nest protects them from the lizards and birds that feed on insects. In the morning hours, when these hunters are active, the ants stay in their nests. But at noon, it grows so hot that lizards and birds retreat into the shade. This one- to two-hour period is the only time the Cataglyphis ants can safely come out to forage for food. Suddenly hundreds of them emerge from a little hole in the sand and busy themselves looking for insects that are affected by the Sun. Each one traces a zigzag as it runs. Every second or so it stops, raises its head, makes a half turn on one leg and starts running again. As soon as it finds food, it must return to the nest before the Sun affects it.
On the return journey, this ant that has been tracing a zigzag path while hunting, takes a course as straight as a ruler. It runs fast to its nest's entrance, which can lie up to 140 meters (150 yards) away. 1 This behavior is remarkable, for to be able to do so, the ant must have somehow measured and memorized each stage of its outward journey. This means that each time it raises its head and turns, it is recording its new position relative to the position of the Sun. This means that with the information it has gathered during its journey of roughly 15 minutes, it has established the exact distance and direction back to the nest. Of course this method of using the Sun to determine direction and calculate a return journey isn't something these tiny insects have invented and applied on their own. With God's inspiration, every member of this species, without exception, manages to perform successfully a task that many people, given the same conditions, would find impossible.
The creatures in question cannot have learned these skills over time, for many species of animal can travel unerringly towards the most suitable habitat as soon as they are born. It is remarkable, for instance, that newly-hatched sea turtles, know the way to the ocean and move towards it. The hatchlings emerge from their underground nests at night and head directly for the water to reach their feeding grounds. Not even one of them loses its way on the shore and goes in the wrong direction, because the stars and Moon make the sea more luminous than the land. Turtles are programmed to head for the brightness from birth. At the time they hatch, they have no one to teach them which way to go. Nevertheless, their highly conscious behavior clearly shows that they have been taught to do this even before birth. This is clear evidence of the Creator Who has given this talent to these newly hatched turtles.
Creatures with knowledge of the world's magnetic field
Just as ants use the angle of the Sun to find their way, some larger animals migrate by using the Earth's magnetic field. Movement of the molten iron in the Earth's core is responsible for creating its magnetic field, which extends in elliptical flow lines from the core of the terrestrial globe, passing through the oceans and the atmosphere from one pole to another. These lines converge towards poles, and the force of the field also increases.
During migrations, certain animals orient themselves by determining this force and angle of inclination. For instance, to prove that birds determine the migration route by making use of the Earth's magnetic field, scientists fit a group of migrating birds with slender rods of iron. But some of the rods were magnetized, to obscure the Earth's magnetism. During the course of their journey, the birds carrying the magnetized rods got lost while those birds with unmagnetized bars found their way with their usual ease. This experiment is of great importance for understanding the exceptional abilities of migrating birds.2
In order to calculate direction by the world's magnetic field, birds would need to know the formula known in physics as the Lenz's Law, or they should possess a gaussmeter, a device for calculating the world's magnetic field. Many humans do not even know what these terms mean and birds, of course, cannot know anything about devices or formulas for calculating a magnetic field. Their knowledge is all brought about with the inspiration of God.
Experiments have also proved that migrating loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) make use of the world's magnetic field. These creatures act as though they have prior knowledge o f the intensity of the magnetic field in different parts of the world, and when they set off in the ocean they determine their direction of travel accordingly.
Kenneth J. Lohmann and his team from the University of North Carolina have studied the migratory movements of these turtles. As soon as they hatch on the eastern coast of Florida, these reptiles head for the ocean and swim straight to a large current known as the North Atlantic gyre that circles the Sargasso Sea. Turtles head to the northeast of this gyre, which tends towards Europe and then south. After spending from five to ten years in the warm and rich waters of the gyre, they return to North America to lay their eggs. Lohmann and his team wanted to observe whether or not the turtles made use of regional magnetic fields to find their migration routes, and set up their study to this end. They placed electric coils on the outside of a lab tank to create magnetic fields. 79 newly hatched turtles were fitted with bathing suits, connected to a computerized tracking system and put in the tank. The hatchlings were presented with the magnetic fields with values equivalent to the critical points of their migratory route—those in the northern Florida, off the coast of Portugal, and in the North Atlantic gyre's southernmost edge. In each magnetic field, the turtles began to swim in the direction of their migratory path. For example, when the magnetic field of the northeastern gyre was simulated in the tank, the hatchlings headed to the south. In the real ocean, this would keep them on the right track and away from fatally cold water.3
How could hatchlings that have never migrated before develop this skill? How are they able to follow the route with nothing to guide them to warm waters? How can they gauge and evaluate the magnetic fields? Who teaches them which direction is the right one to follow?
In Supernature: The Unseen Powers of Animals, John Downer gives the following explanation of how newly hatched turtles find their way:
But this explanation begs several questions: Where in animals are their compasses located? How do they work? Who has inserted them into each and every animal?
These questions clearly expose the truth of the matter: These creatures are all equipped with these superior characteristics from the moment of their creation. There is no question of a so-called evolutionary process explained by blind coincidences. The remarkable characteristics that differentiate animals from one another show that they are created in accordance with an intricate plan, in balance and harmony with their habitat.
Organization in Migration
Congregating in groups for migration provides animals with great advantages. In a group movement, the amount of energy each individual requires is significantly reduced, as compared to a solo effort. In this way, groups of animals can travel greater distances using less energy. There is no disorder in the course of this common migration, as each creature carries out its function in the most appropriate way. As later examples will show, these creatures continue their journeys in total harmony, providing mutual assistance and making sacrifices for one another if need arises.
Human beings are the only beings on Earth with rational intelligence, but their interactions do not always display such harmony. In almost every community, there are people who object to the duties allotted to them, and when required to make sacrifices, express dissatisfaction and a rebellious attitude. For this reason, human communities enact various rules and laws to prevent disorder, and protect the social order.
However, the animals in question have no defined rules or penalties or sanctions, yet nevertheless, they carry on with their lives, abiding in constant harmony. This is evidence that they are created to conform to collective actions and that each is inspired to act in the same way.
These are all part of the evidence of creation that God has given—in the sky, on Earth and in the sea; in short, in the whole universe. People of intelligence and conscience recognize this, and their faith in God grows. The reflection of the faithful on the verses of God and their praise of God are stated in the Qur'an:
Those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the Earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Surah Al Imran, 191)
Footnotes1- David Attenborough, The Trials of Life, A Natural History of Animal Behaviour, William Collins Sons Co. Ltd., 1990, p.121
2- David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Princeton University Press Princeton, New Jersey, p.67
3- Magnetoreception: Animal Magnetism Guides Migration," Kathryn Brown, Science, Vol. 294, Issue 5541, 12 October 2001, p. 364, October 12, 2001; Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Science and Technology Magazine), November 2001
4- John Downer, Supernature, The Unseen Powers Of Animals, Sterling Publishing Company, NewYork, 1999, p.80