Tuesday, July 12, 2011

R.I.P. Methuselah The Galapagos Tortoise

One person’s report is
“Galapagos tortoise
Is truly a creature of God”
It’s made, or created
By God, armor-plated,
With shell-shapes distinct, which was odd

Why God’s work might vary
Made ministers wary—
Perfection is what was expected!
But with close observation
Of type and location,
Particular trends were detected

The shells of some creatures
Have saddle-back features
Where cactus to forage grow taller
Where food’s near the ground
Different features are found
Like a domed shell that’s quite a bit smaller

What these features disclosed
Is what Darwin proposed—
That selection means shell shapes evolved!
Though a biblical search
Left the church in a lurch
Thanks to Darwin, the mystery’s solved!

A sad report, on a few levels; NPR's "The Two-Way" blog reports that a 130-year old tortoise, a favorite at a South Dakota zoo, has died. Even for tortoises, this critter was old; grandparents showed it to their grandchildren, and told them of seeing it themselves at that age (Methuselah the tortoise was a respectable 73 when he arrived at the zoo).

But that's not really why I'm writing. I'm writing because the very first comment at the NPR blog closes with "They are awesome creatures. A great God created them." Which, frankly, is amusing given the tortoise's role in providing Darwin with the evidence of evolution. Fifteen different subspecies of tortoise, each on a different island--my, what a capricious god must have created them! Oh, wait--the tortoises have saddle-shaped shells where the food grows higher, and round shells where it grows lower; perhaps characteristics vary, and those that offer an advantage are selected for by the environment!

So, NPR commenter, you get an irony award. Not redeemable for cash, but you may wear it proudly.


The Science Pundit said...

Methinks you got his age wrong.

Nice ode!

Cuttlefish said...

Fixed! Thanks--how did I not see that?

another said...

The truth is, of course, that there are no such gods.
The tortoirses are real and need not conform to the delusions of the religious. Any more than the rest of us must. Tortoises exist. Gods are fantasies. Tortoises win.

yokohamamama said...

Oh, Cuttlefish-san--what a lovely eulogy:-)) I hope you've sent it to somebody at the South Dakota Zoo--your verse is what ought to be engraved on a memorial plaque at the zoo.

@another-- "Tortoises exist. Gods are fantasies. Tortoises win." ...a pithily well-made point there!

latsot said...

It's dreadfully sad, isn't it?