Thursday, November 29, 2012

Koshik the Elephant Has A Lot To Say! (Literally!)

Welcome back everyone! As usual, I’ll start with the updates before going to the “new stuff”. I don’t know about you, but I had a terrific Thanksgiving. After I published my latest entry, my family and I went to dinner at someone’s house. It was a good dinner too! I hope you also had a great Thanksgiving!

Now that it’s after Thanksgiving, people are finally getting their Christmas decorations out and singing Christmas songs. I tell ya’, Christmas is coming very fast this year. In fact, it’s only: 26 days till Christmas! This in and of itself is shocking (at least to me anyway). I mean, it seems like Harvest Day was just upon us. Now Christmas is here!

After you are finished reading today’s entry, (and if you are interested in body care products), be sure to check out my Mom’s blog at indigobirch. There you will find what my Mom sells. She actually does a lot of stuff, including making body butters, bug sprays, felted objects (such as hats) and etc. But best of all, it’s all 100% natural! So if that’s the sort of stuff you’re interested in, be sure to check it out!

As of today, I am glad to inform you that my latest stop-motion film:  Animal Face-Off: Velociraptor vs. Ankylosaur”, is 100% finished! We will view it briefly, but first, let me share with you something that I found quite . . . “interesting”.

Before we do that however, first let’s take this short quiz:

Which of these animals talk in human languages:

A. Parrot
B. Elephant
C. Seal
D. Dog

(Please don’t look at the answer before taking the quiz) The answer is: All of the above. Yes you read right! Contrary to popular belief, some animals do a lot more than make sounds. Recently, a bull Asian Elephant from South Korea named Koshik (pronounced Koe-shick) has learned to say a variety of human words! I’m not kidding! Don’t try to understand him though, unless you speak fluid Korean that is, because that’s what he speaks: Korean. Some of the words he can say are the Korean words for: “yes”, “no”, “sit”, “lie down” and four other words. While we English-speaking folks can’t understand him, people who speak Korean understand what he is saying very well. How can this elephant accomplish this astounding feat? Well, at first scientists were baffled as to how he can do this. But finally, they figured it out – the elephant puts his trunk into his mouth when he wants to speak, similar to when humans stick their fingers in their mouths to whistle. Further studies will hopefully prove whether Koshik is really understanding what he is saying, or just mimicking the words he’s heard humans say. Either way, this is still very amazing. Check out the video below to learn more about Koshik:

Believe it or not, Koshik is not the first elephant to speak. There are others. Another talking elephant is Batyr who lived in a zoo in Kazakhstan. He was able to say over 20 phrases and many people believe that he actually meant what he was saying. Some of his words and phrases include: “Batyr is good,” and he used his name with the following words: “drink” and “give”, among many other words and phrases. What I don’t understand, is why talking animals don’t get much recognition. I mean seriously, most people believe that animals (other than parrots) are incapable of talking in human languages. There are many, many more animals who have learned a variety of words in the human language. So let’s look at a few more!

Everyone knows parrots can talk. But did you know that parrots actually know what they saying and are not merely just calling out words? Take Alex for example. Alex was an African Grey Parrot and was the focus of study for the animal psychologist Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Alex could identify 50 different objects and recognize quantities up to the number six. He could also tell the difference between seven colors, five shapes, and he even knew the concepts of bigger, smaller, same, different, under and over. He was also able to show emotions such as anger and surprise. One day, he even asked Pepperberg what color he was. He then learned that he was “grey”, after being told six times. He also knew how to ask for something. If he says “Wanna banana,” you’d better give him a banana. If given something other than a banana, such as a nut, he would either stare at it before requesting a banana again, or he would throw the nut at the researcher and ask for the banana later. This must know what he is saying!

When George and Alice Swallow saw an orphan harbor seal pup, they couldn’t resist taking it home. Little did they know, they were in for a big surprise. At first this seal didn’t want to eat, but that was until he found the pace of a vacuum cleaner and gulped it down, hence his name: Hoover! It was here that Hoover started to learn about his, *ahem*, un-seal-like qualities. Once Hoover was eventually moved to the New England Aquarium, he started bossing visitors around. He even said stuff like, “Get outta here!” and “Well hello Deah”, in a New England accent, of course! This seal definitely had a lot to say! So next time you go to the seal exhibit at the zoo, don’t be surprised if the seal slides up to the glass and has a little chat!

(This was the only video I could find of Hooper, sorry if it is a little hard to hear him. Hooper's voice is the one that sounds more muffled)

Wow, now you know the facts – talking animals are not only in fairy tales! They are very real! These are just a few of a majority of talking animals. It is amazing that such creatures have learned the ability to mimic human languages and in some cases, actually know how to use the words. But while admiring these amazing creatures, we mustn’t lose sight of the reason these animals are here in the first place. Ages ago (approx. 6,000 years ago to be precise), God created all the animals. He made them especially for us to enjoy, study and to give testimony to the creator Himself. But what is really cool is that not only did He want to take time to create everything in the universe, He also wants to take the time to develop a relationship with you. He wants you to know Him personally through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ so that we may fellowship with Him and actually know the Creator Himself. Would you like to start a relationship with God right now? Please see THE BLOOD THIRSTY LION?” for more details.

Alright, I’ve had you waiting long enough! It is time to see who would win in a fight between Velociraptor and the ankylosaur. Now before I reveal the face-off, let’s take a brief but close look at the animals in today’s face-off:

Since we already discussed the Velociraptor (check last week’s post) I’ll just talk about the ankylosaur today.

Pinacosaurus (this picture was taken from:

In this episode of “Animal Face-Off”, only the “kind” name is given (for definition of “kind”, please check the link). In other words, the species name isn’t spoken, so what species is it? Well, the species that most closely fits the description of the ankylosaur in the video is called Pinacosaurus, a medium-sized ankylosaur found in middle Asia. It was a huge behemoth, about 15 feet long and weighing six tons. The ankylosaur is covered with rows upon rows of special spikes called scutes. God made these on the ankylosaur to protect the back, neck and head from predators. And underneath that is fused bone. Even the eyelids of these beasts are hard. As if this wasn’t enough, it also sported a club on the end of its tail that was used to whack or kill potential predators. It could be swung at 40 mph and hit with the force of 2 ½ tons of force! That’s a lot! However, the ankylosaur’s brain isn’t very large. So is it possible that our Velociraptors can outsmart the ankylosaur? Well, I’d say it’s time to find out. Let’s find out once and for all which dinosaur would win in this face-off: “Velociraptor vs. Ankylosaur”:

Shocking fight huh? I bet not many people expected that! How did you like the face-off? Please be sure to voice your opinion by making comments! I’d really appreciate it!

Well, that’s pretty much everything that’s happening around here, so be sure to check back next week as we see which animal will win in a fight between Ankylosaurus, and everyone’s favorite carnivore: Tyrannosaurus rex! See you next time!

PS: To post a comment (this is highly encouraged), please simply click the post you wish to comment on, scroll to the bottom of the page and put what you wish to say or ask in the comment box. Then in the box below the comment box choose who you’re going to comment as. And then click preview or publish. If you aren’t signed into Google, you’ll be asked to type in a word and a number in the space provided. Type the word, put a space and then put the number. Then your comment is on the blog!

PS 2: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 3: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.

PS 4: Be sure to comment on the latest stop-motion movies too, this will help me improve them.

PS 5: Missed some videos? Check out our video page.

PS 6: Please help us expand EXPLORATION BOOKS PEDIA. It’s F-R-E-E!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Happy Thanksgiving

Howdy folks! Welcome back! A lot of stuff is going on around here! Cool stuff! It’s so much stuff and . . . ok, that’s not true. In fact, it’s been just the opposite. This past week has not been the most eventful. I’ve been busy with school this past week. I didn’t have much time to work on the other stop-motion film – the one right after the one I’m revealing today – fortunately, I’m ahead and had the one I’m showing today already finished by this Thursday. Hopefully this upcoming week, I’ll have this next one finished by the next Thursday.

But wow time flies! It’s Thanksgiving Day already! A lot of you will probably be having some time with your family later today, eating turkey, watching football, or whatever else you’re doing. My family and I watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I really enjoyed it (minus the annoying commercials, of course). Today also marks something else rather special – the official start of the Christmas season (of course, my family has been watching Christmas movies since October). After all, Christmas is only: 33 days away! That’s shocking!

Now I know all of you will want to hurry up and get on to your day, so today I’ll keep this entry rather short (especially compared to the last one!). Today, I’m going to help us all remember why we are celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place!

This oven-ready turkey looks delicious!
You see, it has been hundreds of years since the pilgrims celebrated the first “official” Thanksgiving, but thanksgiving was celebrated not hundreds, but thousands of years before! Just as it states in many parts of the book of Psalm in the Bible:

Psalm 95:1-2 – “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.”

Psalm 100:4 – “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His Name”

These sections of scripture were written by a guy named David. For those of you who don’t know, this is the same guy that killed Goliath with nothing more than a slingshot, a stone, Goliath’s sword (which he used after Goliath collapsed) and faith in God. In these passages of scripture, David is writing about having thanksgiving with God. This is not the same Thanksgiving Day that we celebrate every November, but this kind of thanksgiving is giving thanks to God and being thankful. Showing thanksgiving isn’t only a thing we should show on Thanksgiving Day, but every single day of the year is when we should be thankful to God, and praise Him for all the wonderful blessing He bestows on us every day. Don’t think you have anything to be thankful for? Well, that’s a common misconception; you have tons of stuff to be thankful for! Blessings are all around us! If you woke up this morning, that’s a blessing. If you have family to spend Thanksgiving Day with, that’s a blessing. If you can read this: you have blessings. Blessings are literally all around us; one reason so many people in today’s society are dismal is because they fail to see every day’s blessings that God has given to each and every one of us!

Now that we’ve had our thankful, Thanksgiving Day reminder, we can finally take a closer look at today’s face-off! Now you may have noticed that unlike the previous four face-offs, I did not take two weeks to talk about the two animals that will be facing off today. Why did I not do this? Well, the answer is simply that I wanted to save the facts about these two dinosaurs for later because they will (Lord willing) be coming up once again in the near future. So today, before the face-off, I’ll give a few stats about each animal.

Velociraptor is a terrible little dinosaur with sharp teeth, clawed fingers, and a sickle-shaped claw on each forelimb, nicknamed the “Killer Claw” because it was probably used to finish off its prey. This creature is about the size of an animal some of you will be eating later today: the turkey. Now this raptor may look a little like a turkey, considering its bird-like body, but that’s about as bird-ish as these reptiles get! They aren’t related (but that’s a whole other topic!).

Protoceratops was about the size of a pig and is related to the larger Triceratops of North America. It has a large bony neck frill for display and protection. For defense, it uses its sharp beak to snap the bones of a potential predator, such as Velociraptor. In real life, Protoceratops didn’t have horns. The ones in the video you are about to see have horns because, frankly, that’s all I had in the collection, so just pretend they aren’t there, ok?

Now, it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . . the moment where two legendary creatures will face-off in a fight to the death. Hit it boys:

SNAP! BASH! SNARL! SLICE! ROAR! That was some face-off! Now we know what dinosaur really deserves its Hollywood reputation after all! But what did you think? Please be sure to leave your comments regarding the film! I’d really appreciate it! To do this, all you need to do are a few basic steps:
  1. Click on the title of the blog post you wish to leave a comment under
  2. Type in what you wish to say in the comment box near the bottom of the page
  3. In the box below the comment box, please select who you would like to comment as and then click either publish or preview
  4. If you aren’t signed into Google, you will be asked to type in a word and a number, put a space between the word and the number in the space provided
  5. Click either publish or preview and then you’re done!

Be sure to tune in next week to see who will win on my next stop-motion film: “Animal Face-Off: Velociraptor vs. Ankylosaur”. That pretty much wraps up what’s going on around here! See you next week as Christmas nears ever closer. Now go and enjoy some time with your family and/or friends as you be thankful for what God has given you. Oh! And have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

PS: To post a comment (this is highly encouraged), please simply click the post you wish to comment on, scroll to the bottom of the page and put what you wish to say or ask in the comment box. Then in the box below the comment box choose who you’re going to comment as. And then click preview or publish. If you aren’t signed into Google, you’ll be asked to type in a word and a number in the space provided. Type the word, put a space and then put the number. Then your comment is on the blog!

PS 2: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 3: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.

PS 4: Be sure to comment on the latest stop-motion movies too, this will help me improve them.

PS 5: Please help us expand EXPLORATION BOOKS PEDIA. It’s F-R-E-E!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Elephant and Rhinoceros Rumble the Jungle

Jingle, jingle, jingle ka-ching! That’s what we’re going to be hearing very soon! Christmas is right around the corner at only: 40 days away! That’s one month and ten days! Not a long time to wait!

Today folks, we’re going through a lot of stuff today, including the premiere of my latest stop-motion film: “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino”. First though, I told you last week that I’d show you my pictures for this craft fair that I drew. And here are the ones I drew for this particular fair (I have others, but it would take so long us to view them here):



Two Carnotaurus


A pair of Tylosaurus

A parent Gigantoraptor

A mother and baby Miragaia

A Triceratops and T. rex facing off in the background. A mother Leptictidium and her young watch in the foreground.


A juvenile T. rex

A parent Oviraptor
A lot of pictures huh? This is another classic example of one thing God has gifted me with. Hey! I have an idea, send me your pictures! God has blessed us with a number of abilities and talents. Some have the gift of drawing. So send your best pictures to Then I will put them on the blog so other people can see them. Need help putting your pictures into the computer or some other complication? Send your questions to my email address. In a few weeks, they will be on this blog for all to see!

The craft fair was quite good. We didn’t sell as much as we had hoped, but at least we made our table back. That was good. I didn’t sell that many of the big pictures (I only sold one), but the postcards sold very well towards the middle of the time we were sitting there. I’ll tell you, during the first half, it was slow and boring. I’m glad in the end though we did make a profit, thank God for that!

The largest mammal alive on the planet today is no doubt, the mighty elephant! I am a HUGE elephant fan! When I was little, I was into cows, until I turned about two years old. Then I got into elephants. But elephants are much more varied and complex than most of us realize. So let’s take a look at them now before we get onto the face-off!

Now as you’ve probably already noticed, elephants are big! The largest ones alive today, the Loxidonta Africana, or African Bush Elephants grow 25 feet long, 13 feet tall at the shoulder and the largest males weigh over seven tons! That’s about as much as a Tyrannosaurus rex (give or take a few tons of course).

You’ve also no doubt noticed that elephants possess a long nose that we call a trunk. This appendage is way more complex than what meets the eye. For one thing, it has over 150 thousand muscles! No wonder they are so strong! The elephant uses its trunk for a variety of uses – anything from smelling, to putting food into the mouth, to getting water to drink, to picking things up – the trunk is very useful to an elephant. Without its trunk, the elephant probably won’t survive very long. It would be like us losing our fingers, hands, arms, nose, and lips. Elephant trunks are strong enough to lift a heavy log (they do this quite often in the wild), and an elephant can kill a lion with its trunk in a single blow. And yet, it’s dexterous enough to take a small object from the hand of a small child.

An elephant raising its trunk
Now onto the elephant’s other weapons – its tusks. The tusks of a bull African elephant can grow over seven feet long (the record is nine feet long). The elephant’s tusks are normally used to dig waterholes and strip trees of their bark, but they can also deliver a deadly goring. African Elephants males and females have lengthy tusks, but in their close relatives, the Asian Elephants, only the males have tusks.

Today, there are three species of elephants alive:

African Bush Elephant

African Forest Elephant

Asian Elephant
Now older textbooks will tell you that there are only two species of elephants. But this was before they made an astounding discovery in the deep jungles of Central Africa. In the jungle, there are types of elephants called Forest Elephants and at first, scientists were sure that the Forest Elephant was a subspecies of the Bush Elephant. But after taking a close look at their DNA, scientists learned that they’re actually two different species. They are still cousins, but there is enough genetic variation in them to consider them two species. The elephant we’ll meet when it’s time for the face-off is the Bush African Elephant, the largest land mammal alive today.

The range of the African Elephant
Elephant cows live in herds consisting of mothers, their calves, daughters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, great grandmothers and etc. Male elephants leave the herd when they turn around 12 years old to start life either alone or in a bachelor group. African Elephant cows live in closely knit family groups, meanwhile Asian Elephant herds aren’t so close-knit. The herd is run by the oldest female in the group – the matriarch. She can be anywhere between the ages of 40 and death (elephants can live for up to 80 years in the wild). The matriarch is by no coincidence the wisest member of the herd, and she remembers where all the waterholes, rivers and feeding areas are too. This comes in handy when droughts arrive. You may have heard the saying, “An elephant never forgets.” Well, elephants’ memories are superb. God has given these animals the ability to remember even past loved ones. When an elephant hasn’t seen one of its buddies in a little (or long) while, they will show affection for each other and wrap their trunks together. When an elephant is on the verge of dying, the other members of the elephant herd try to help her up. If she ends up dying, the herd doesn’t just leave her to it. Most animals, even mammals simply leave the dying behind. With the exception of a mother losing a dying calf, wildebeest do it, rhinoceros do it, sharks do it, lions do it, tigers do it, giraffes do it, zebras do it, gazelle do it, bears do it and the list goes on and on and on. Other than humans, elephants are one of the few living organisms that will stay by their dying loved one (hippos can show similar behaviors too). It’s almost like they have a silent moment of prayer. Then years later, the flesh rots away and sometimes the herd comes walking by the remains. Elephants are very curious animals and when they see the remains of an elephant skeleton, they will curiously check it out. You know, tug on the bones, put their trunks through the skull holes and blow in the now empty tusks. Another example of an elephant’s terrific memory.

A herd of African elephants feeding
Elephant calves weigh around 200 pounds at birth. But as we all know, they don’t stay that way! Mother elephants are wonderful parents. They will defend their baby at any cost. When predators such as lions or hyenas show up, they will often close-ranks – the adult elephants get in a circle surrounding the calves and show a defensive wall of tusks toward a potential attacker.

Where an elephant calf is, the mother isn't far away
There may be only three species of elephants living today, but it wasn't always this way. At one time, there were once well over 600 different species of elephants! (See one of my previous articles RETURN OF THEGREAT MAMMOTHS for more). Here are a few examples of some extinct elephants:

Woolly Mammoth




You may have noticed the Woolly Mammoth on this list. While I love mammoths, I will save them for a later post, we’ll just stick to the “normal-lookingish” elephants today.

Elephants ranged in sizes too. One species grew almost as tall as a giraffe. At 15 feet tall at the shoulder, Deinotherium (above) was one of the largest elephants ever to exist. You may have noticed that instead of tusks curving upwards, its tusks are curving downward and are placed on the chin! Why on earth did God do that? Well, scientists don’t know, but they were most likely used to strip tree bark to get to the soft inner bark. This elephant weighed 14 tons and could be found in Asia, Europe, and Africa. What a behemoth!

While some elephants grew unbelievably huge, some were so surprisingly the opposite. Yep, meet the Dwarf Sicilian Elephant:

Aren't elephants meant to be really, really large? Well, no one told the Dwarf Sicilian Elephant that! (This image was taken off of ZooTycoon wiki)
Despite being related to normal elephants (especially Asian Elephants), this animal obviously lacks exactly what most of us expect all elephants to have. This little guy only grew about three feet tall. So for those of you who would define an elephant as, “A large animal with tusks, a trunk and big ears,” well, I just changed your definition of an elephant! The Dwarf Sicilian Elephant didn’t only live in Sicily, it also lived in many other islands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Much like the rhino we learned about in the previous entry, the elephants living today are in danger of extinction (go figure!). Why are these animals endangered? Well, because of their ivory tusks. People wish to make a quick buck and so they go out to shoot the elephants, extract their tusks, and leave the rest of the body lying on the ground. As a matter of fact, a single tusk from an African elephant can be worth more than $19,500!
This elephant has some really long tusks!
People have been hunting elephants since the Ice Age, but it wasn't till the invention of guns and bullets that elephant numbers began to plummet. In the 20th century, their numbers went way down. Between 1973 and 1989, about 90% of Kenya’s elephant population had been killed by poachers. This has had a terrible effect on elephants other than just their numbers: often times, when poachers come by, the matriarch of the herd will often charge at them and well . . . if she’s dead, the next oldest member of the herd takes the reins, but the problem with this is that she has not yet learned the ins and outs of being leader. Another problem is that poachers love killing bulls with large tusks. These bulls are the healthiest and best bulls to pass their genes onto the next generation. So if they are shot, we’re left with weaker male elephants with smaller tusks. Some African elephants have actually been born without tusks because they don’t have the genes for them.

Fortunately, there are lots of people who wish to save elephants from extinction. Eventually, the news of the elephant’s plight was broken to the government of Kenya. So in 1989 the president of Kenya had more than 2,000 confiscated elephant tusks burned in flames to show that Kenya’s wildlife service was going to do whatever it takes to stop elephant poaching. They have even made hunting, and selling elephant tusks illegal. This has helped the elephant population recover some, but there are still poachers who will risk being caught to shoot elephants for their tusks. Well, there are rangers out now that help stop poachers. And lately, there’s a new squad in town who helps with fighting elephant poachers: elephants themselves!

Elephants are now being used to help track down poachers like a police dog tracking down criminals. Elephants have an acute sense of smell and hearing, so they can hear and smell poachers that might otherwise be missed by just rangers themselves. Elephants also can cross the terrain much faster than a ranger or a Jeep can, so elephants are the way to go! Did you know you can help save elephants too?

It’s actually rather easy to do. As with the rhinos we learned about last week, one of the best ways to stop the illegal trade of elephant ivory is to stop the demand – one of the easiest things to do is simply not to buy or except gifts of ivory. If you are offered something made of ivory, politely tell the person why. Also be sure to tell your friends and family not to buy this product. Who knows? Maybe elephants will one day be taken off the endangered species list!

Did you know elephants play soccer? Sometimes, the mother elephant is shot by poachers and this leaves an orphan elephant calf, such as this one. Fortunately, there are now special groups that rescue and raise baby elephants!
Alright, I know you all have waited ever so patiently for this moment. Here it is folks, my latest Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino! Let’s see who wins:

Who knew that animal could kill the other! That was awesome! But what I want to know is what you think! Please simply post your comments to say what you think about this short film.

Well, that’s about all that’s been happening around here. Please check back next week to see the next stop-motion movie: Animal Face-Off: Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops. See you later!


PS: To post a comment (this is highly encouraged), please simply click the post you wish to comment on, scroll to the bottom of the page and put what you wish to say or ask in the comment box. Then in the box below the comment box choose who you’re going to comment as. And then click preview or publish. If you aren’t signed into Google, you’ll be asked to type in a word and a number in the space provided. Type the word, put a space and then put the number. Then your comment is on the blog!

PS 2: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 3: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.

PS 4: Be sure to comment on the latest stop-motion movies too, this will help me improve them.

PS 5: Please help us expand EXPLORATION BOOKS PEDIA. It’s F-R-E-E!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Brave Rhinoceros

Welcome back to the blog everybody! As always, I’ll start with a few updates.

Now, Christmas is only 47 days away, not a long time at all! Also, for those of you who are really excited, the latest stop-motion movie project, “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino” is officially 99.9% finished! Alright, technically, the remaining 1% is for putting it on YouTube so I can put it on the blog. So it should be on for viewing next week (and believe me, you have to put it on YouTube first before putting it on the blog because otherwise, it doesn’t work or something).

Another cool thing that’s happening in the upcoming weeks is that we are my Mom, Angel, my sister and I are going to be selling stuff at an upcoming craft’s fair! I’ve been to a number of craft’s fair’s before between the years of 2010 and 2012. The first one was not at all a success, I sold next to nothing and we stood out there in the freezing cold and the blowing wind. But, that was the first one. Since then, I’ve been to craft fairs with a much better outcome. So what do I sell? Well, not only do I write, sing and make stop-motion movies, I was also blessed with pretty good drawing abilities. I draw some pretty cool pictures of dinosaurs. That’s normally all I sell at craft fairs and sometimes that doesn’t go all too well because the market is not there at times. The only problem with these events is that you never know what the majority of people will want to buy. But that’s why I’m not only selling dinosaur pictures, I’m also as of the last craft fair, going to be selling dinosaur postcards AND as of this upcoming craft fair, I’m going to be promoting the book I wrote called “THE KING ON A CROSS”. I won’t be selling the book there, just promoting it and handing out my handy dandy business cards. Next Thursday (which is two days before the craft fair) I’ll set the new pictures I’ve drawn on the blog for your viewing pleasure. Wow, looks like next week is going to be a busy week!

Other than that, not a whole lot has been going on around here (my sister, Halle and I are homeschooled, so it’s not like we go to regular school where stuff happens regularly, not that I don’t like homeschool, but I’m just making a point).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, have you noticed the fish swimming at the top of the page? Be sure to feed them when you visit. Simply tap the fish tank to feed them.

Besides the elephant, the largest land mammal on the planet today is called Ceratotherium simum, aka the White Rhinoceros. The white rhino can stand six feet tall at the shoulder, stretch 12-13 feet long from nose to tail and weigh 2 ½ tons! At least, those are the males that weigh that much female white rhinos weigh half a ton less.
A white rhinoceros mother and calf

A pair of white rhinoceros
One of the most noticeable things on a rhino is no doubt its horn. The white rhino’s horn grows over four feet long. Believe it or not, the horn is not part of the rhino’s skeleton. As a matter of fact, it isn’t bone at all! It’s made up of keratin, the same stuff that makes up your fingernails and hair. So a rhino horn is merely hardened hair that ends at a point (see my point?). They use that horn mainly for fighting.

What large horns you have Mr. White Rhino!

The original range of the white rhino
The white rhino's present range, the brown color represents their native range, the pink represents their reintroduced range, and the red represents their introduced range.
These rhinos are also the most social of the rhino species, the females and adolescent and sub-adults often live in small herds. Mature males on the other hand prefer to go it alone. Notice I did say rhino species. There are five different species of rhino living on the planet today. These species are:

Black Rhinoceros

Indian Rhinoceros

Javan Rhino (I couldn't find a better picture, sorry about that)

Sumatran Rhino
As you may have noticed, they don’t all have large horns. The white rhino and its close cousin the black rhino live in Africa, but all the others live in South Eastern Asia. Another interesting thing about rhinos is that the black and white rhino can’t be told apart by the color of their skin, because it’s very similar in color, contrary to what their name suggests. So how did the names come about? Well, when settlers first came to Africa, they noticed that some of the rhinos had wide-lips and were called wide-lipped rhinos, but when translated into English, it was mistakenly translated as white rhino. So the name stuck. The white rhino has that wide muzzle because of its diet: it feeds on grass. Meanwhile the black rhino has a pointed upper lip because it prefers to nibble on trees and shrubs. That pointed lip makes it easier to grab branches and leaves to pull toward its mouth.

The Black Rhinoceros uses that pointed upper lip to grab food from tree branches, or the hands of 13-year old girls like the male rhino in this picture is doing! Have YOU ever hand fed a rhino?
The rhino can run up to 30 mph and this can be bad at times because rhinos have been known to puncture safari jeep doors! Part of the reason rhinos are so ferocious (other than all their testosterone) is because they have terrible eyesight. They will treat just about any movement as a threat. Notice I said just about any movement. Rhinos have a great sense of smell to determine if it knows what the movement is. For instance, if a mother rhino smells its baby, it won’t attack the baby. Or another example is that a herd of rhinoceros don’t normally go attacking each other (unless it’s mating season and the rhinos fighting are males). A mother rhinoceros of any species will defend a baby with all her might.

A mother and baby rhino. Can you tell if they are black or white rhinos?
Today, there are only five or so species of rhinoceros. But at one time, there were many more species that have since gone extinct. They even once spread through North America, and Europe, along with their African and Asian ranges. They even lived in the icy polar regions. Here are a few examples:

Woolly Rhinoceros


See, the rhino family is very diverse. And yet, these rhinos did not evolve into one species of another. No, this is simply a case of natural selection. As you may have noticed, not all rhinos had horns.

Elephants are the largest land mammals alive today, but it wasn’t always this way. No, there once was a species of rhino that towered over the elephant. It is called the Indricotherium (see above, pronounced in-droe-cath-ere-ee-um). Indricotherium weighed an astonishing 18 tons and stood 20 feet tall from head to toe. This behemoth didn’t spend its time eating grasses and small shrubs; it was feeding on trees in the region of Mongolia where it lived. This rhinoceros didn’t have horns – it didn’t need them! It’s size alone was a formidable defense. The largest predators of the area, Hyenodon, was the size of a modern rhino and was by no means large enough to tackle an Indricotherium.

The Indricotherium went extinct thousands of years ago (so did the Woolly Rhinos you see above but we’ll talk about those later), but the other species of rhinos managed to cling on . . . that is until the 19th and 20th century came around, that is! Humans started killing the rhinos in massive numbers with their guns. Why? Well, they want the horn. Rhino horns are made of keratin, and keratin can sell for a pretty price in some countries. So after killing the rhino, people leave the body to rot. The number of rhinos dropped dramatically and so when people finally figured this out, they put it on the endangered species list! Happy endings right? Well, not quite. Even though it’s illegal to shoot rhinos today, some people, called poachers, kill them anyway. This isn’t helping the population of rhinos at all. So what did people do?

Well, now armed rangers and wardens can catch poachers in the act and arrest them. They also have set up special reserves where the rhinos can be safe from poachers (and the rangers still keep a close watch on them because sometimes poachers will sneak into the reserves). They even can painlessly remove the horn from a rhino to temporarily deter poachers, it does grow back however. Many of these things people are doing to help have helped the rhino population greatly. Some populations have steadied, while others, as the case of most white rhino populations, is slowly growing! This in and of itself is an amazing feat! But poachers are still out there, did you know you can help too? Helping the rhinos isn’t always as dangerous as going out into the reserves themselves and stopping poachers, in can be done right at home. Here’s what you can do: if you see products made from rhino horns (such as little figurines), don’t buy them. Besides, they are normally rather pricey anyway. And if you are offered something made from rhino horns, also don’t accept and politely tell that person why we shouldn’t buy that stuff. If people start to care about the rhino, then they’ll stop buying the products, and if they stop buying, the poachers don’t make any money killing rhinos, so they are forced to stop killing these amazing creatures God created.

Thanks for stopping by today. Please be sure to come back next Thursday to see, not only what you’ll be reading next, but also the pictures I am selling at the craft fair AND (it never ends does it) the next stop-motion film: “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino”. See you next time!

PS: To post a comment (this is highly encouraged), please simply click the post you wish to comment on, scroll to the bottom of the page and put what you wish to say or ask in the comment box. Then in the box below the comment box choose who you’re going to comment as. And then click preview or publish. If you aren’t signed into Google, you’ll be asked to type in a word and a number in the space provided. Type the word, put a space and then put the number. Then your comment is on the blog!

PS 2: Have a puzzling question about animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, my stop-motion movies, Creation or etc? Please post your question as a comment or send me an email at

PS 3: What’s the latest scoop? Check it out at SMILEY’S NEWS.

PS 4: Be sure to comment on the latest stop-motion movies too, this will help me improve them.

PS 5: Please help us expand EXPLORATIONBOOKS PEDIA. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Squirely Squirrels!

Wow! Harvest Day is over all ready! Doesn’t the time fly? Now that we’ve entered November, a lot of people will finally be taking down those Halloween decorations (thank goodness!) and we’ll be setting up for Thanksgiving. Now unlike Halloween, I do celebrate Thanksgiving. So that’s what we will be celebrating in exactly: 22 days! It’s rounding the corner fast, isn’t it? Election Day is coming up, and Christmas isn’t that long of a wait either: only 55 days till Christmas is here. What fun!
Anyway, enough about holidays! I'm sure some of you are wondering what’s going on with my latest stop-motion film in the Animal Face-off Series: Elephant vs. Rhino. Well, I’d say it’s about 91% or so completed. I expect to have it finished anytime between now and the 15th. So stay tuned to see which animal can beat the stuff out of the other one!

By the way, some people have complained that putting comments of the blog is hard to figure out how to do it. So if you wish to put a comment (which I'd highly recommend), simply

  1. Click on the title of the post you'd like to leave a comment on
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page
  3. Type in what you wish to say in the comment box
  4. Then in the box below where you just typed, enter one of the following to comment as
  5. Next, click preview
  6. After this, if you are not signed into to Blogspot, you will be asked to type in a word and a number, do so in the box where it says to do so (put a space between the word and the number)
I hope this has been helpful! Please send me your comments (it really helps when it comes to improving this blog!).

No doubt, if you live up North, you’ve seen one animal in particular getting ready for the winter (if you live in North America, Europe or northern Asia of course). You know what animal I’m talking about – the little furry animals outside with bushy tails, buckteeth and a craving for nuts. Yes, I’m talking about squirrels. Squirrels are everywhere this time of year! Right now they are gathering up nuts to store for winter. But there’s a lot more to squirrels than what meets the eye! Let’s check them out!

A Grey Squirrel on the ground
The squirrels we commonly see in cities and towns of North America are called Sciurus carolinesis, or Grey Squirrels. Grey Squirrels can be grey, but they are also red, tan and sometimes blackish! Go figure! These little mammals grow about 1 ½ feet long and weigh 1-2 pounds. Grey Squirrels are diurnal (which means they come out in the daytime), like most squirrels. While they are quite agile climbers, they often spend a good bit of time on the ground searching for nuts that they save for later. Other than nuts, they also feed on fruits, seeds, nuts and bark.

As we all know, Grey Squirrels burry nuts underground to save them for later. And sometimes, squirrels will forget about a few of them so they have the chance to grow into mighty trees. (Learn more about nuts and other seeds in my other post, “We’reNuts for Nuts”) Squirrels also sleep for a majority of the winter months in a nest called a drey, but they don’t “hibernate” in a sense. Instead, they merely take long dozes and wake up every so often to munch on food before going back to bed. Also, if the weather, gets a warm spell, don’t be surprised to see a few squirrels leaping about in the branches looking for food.

A Grey Squirrel in a tree
The Grey Squirrel is what we think of when we think about squirrels, but there are LOTS of other species of squirrels, most of which you’ve probably never heard of! The Sciurus vulgaris, or Red Squirrels are squirrels also live in North America and Eurasia. The difference between Red and Grey Squirrels is not their color, as they can both be red, brown, grey, black or grey-brown in the winter. . There is a difference between Red Squirrels in Eurasia and the ones in North America, and even an amateur can easily tell the difference: Eurasians have tufts on their ears while the others don’t.

A Eurasian Red Squirrel eating a nut
An American Red Squirrel
Eurasian Red Squirrels can get 8-10 inches long and weigh 7-17 ounces. They are normally diurnal. Red Squirrels commonly feed on nuts, buds, mushrooms, bark, fungi, shoots and conifer seeds. The female Red Squirrels give birth to 2-5 blind, and bald babies which she nurses for 12 weeks. The drey the babies lie in is a larger version of the “hibernation” drey that’s lined with soft material to keep the babies warm while mom’s away. Of course, Eurasian Red Squirrels live in Eurasia, but a new guy has moved into town – the Red Squirrels cousin, the Grey Squirrel has moved onto the block and is causing a whole bunch of trouble! But more about that later, first here are some other species of squirrels found around the world, and no, they all don’t have bushy tails, live up north or have nut-cravings:

Indian Palm Squirrel
Giant Squirrel
Prevost's Squirrel
Cape Ground Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
Western Grey Squirrel
As you can see, there are lots of types of squirrels. One bizarre type of squirrel is none other than the Cape Ground Squirrel (above). As its name suggests, it lives on the ground in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. These cute little guys are a lot tougher than they look, and there is something they do that helps them survive: they work as a team! God made these guys to not only survive, but thrive in the desert.

More on Cape Squirrels later though! There’s another species of squirrel that’s really bizarre, it’s unlike any other species of squirrel. To cross long distances, most squirrels have to climb down from the trees and scurry across the ground. But God gave one squirrel a radical solution, this squirrel is none other than (drum roll please) . . . the Flying Squirrel!
A Flying Squirrel, normally they don't fly in the daytime though
See the Flying Squirrel's big eyes?
Despite its name, the Flying Squirrel can’t really fly, it actually glides. The only mammals that can fly are bats (learn more about them in “WE’RE BATTY FOR BATS”). They can only get into the air after having leapt from a place high up, in a tree for instance. But these squirrels can really glide with accuracy. One squirrel can glide to the left from one tree, and another squirrel gliding from the same location can land on a tree to the right. One species of squirrel, called the Giant Flying Squirrel, can glide an astounding over 1,300 feet before it lands on another tree! (But we’ll just talk about the flying squirrel of North America today) Unlike animals that fly, Flying Squirrels glide on flaps of skin that go from their arms to their ankles. This is an airfoil shape that allows the fall of the squirrel to be delayed so it can stay in the air much longer and glide safely to another tree. Unlike most squirrels, the Flying Squirrel is nocturnal, this is because it isn’t quick enough in the air to escape birds of prey. This is why God gave these animals great big eyes to see in the dark.

Now, let’s learn a bit about how Eurasian Red Squirrels are in trouble because of their Grey cousins. The Red Squirrels were already in trouble due to deforestation and pets such as dogs and cats (which is a good reason never to let cats out, I have others, but I’ll save them for another time), but as if that weren’t bad enough, more trouble came. Grey Squirrels were taken to Eurasia from North America, and some got loose. Now they are bullying their Red cousins. How? Well, both species of squirrels like a lot of the same things: big trees, places to find food, and places to raise young. Now Grey Squirrels are nearly twice the size of the Red Squirrels, need more food, and have more babies. So with trees being cut down, there are less trees so the Grey Squirrels are taking many of the few trees that remain. And also, Grey Squirrels carry a disease they are immune to, but Red Squirrels have no immunity to this disease, and it’s deadly! So long story short: Grey Squirrels are doing great in Eurasia, and Red Squirrels are in a little pickle (or nuttle?). Now how can the Red Squirrels be saved from extinction?

This little guy is so cute! He's a sleeping baby Red Squirrel.
Well, when trouble strikes, people groups in Europe come to rescue baby squirrels and nurture them up. The babies are fed milk, and are cared for until they are big enough to look after themselves. They also take in sick or injured squirrels and tell people living around the areas about Red Squirrels so they can support “squirrel groups” to help the Red Squirrels. Many of these groups are also keeping Grey Squirrels out of places where some Red Squirrels live and saving forests where Grey Squirrels are not a problem. So with a little work, perhaps the Red Squirrels of Eurasia will be safe once again!

Thanks for stopping by today to get all “squirrely”!  Please check back next week to stay up-to-date on the progress of the stop-motion film and get more nature bits! See you next time!

PS: Have a puzzling question about, animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, “THE KING ON A CROSS”, Creation, nature or etc? Post your question as a comment or send me an email to

PS 2: Please help expand our wiki: Exploration Books Pedia, and it's free!