But apart from evolutionary assumptions, there is no evidence that the ostrich evolved. Every part of this amazing creature points to perfect design. The evidence shows that it is not a bird that evolved from a flying bird and “lost” the ability to fly. Rather, it is a bird that is designed from the ground up for land living.
With its massive body and huge neck, legs, and feet, it could never have flown! A male weighs an average of 250 pounds and stands seven to nine feet high.
It can’t fly, but it is a magnificent runner. It is the fastest creature on two legs. The ostrich can run 43 miles per hour in bursts and can maintain 31 miles per hour for a half hour. By then, it can be more than 15 miles away! A single stride is up to 16 feet when running. Even ostrich chicks can run at more than 3 miles per hour.
The ostrich’s design is obvious in that “its legs are perfectly placed so that the body’s center of gravity balances on top of its legs” (Livescience.com).
The ostrich foot is beautifully designed for running. It has only two toes rather than four as most birds have. Its long toe has a strong nail that is used for gripping the ground.
In a race between a female ostrich and Dennis Northcutt, a professional football player and one of the fastest men alive, the ostrich won hands down. “It was no contest. The ostrich left Dennis in the dust without even trying. Here’s why. Speed is a product of downforce in stride length. With each step, the ostrich produces an explosive 1900 pounds of force to propel it forward. That’s more than twice as much as the 900 pounds that a human can generate. David Sandler of strengthpro.com says, “The ostrich’s ability to produce force rapidly was remarkable. We’re talking the fastest numbers we have ever seen and over two times faster than the best athletes we have seen.”
The ostrich wings are not like the wings of a flying bird. They are not made for flying but for other purposes.
Sibbele Hietkamp, an ostrich farmer in South Africa, lists some of the purposes as follows (“Letters to Editor,” New Scientist, June 21, 2008):
- Stability in running
- Enabling rapid right angle turns
- Courtship displays
- Stability while mating
- Warning signals
- Nest Building
- Shade and shelter for young
The ostrich uses its wings as rudders when it runs. It can make quick turns, using the wings as counter balances.
Ostrich feathers aren’t flight feathers with the complex interlocking hook system composed of barbs and barbules. Ostrich feathers are soft and fluffy and act as perfect insulation.
The ostrich doesn’t have a keel on the breastbone (sternum) like flying birds. The keel is a large ridge on the breastbone to which the bird’s powerful flight muscles are attached. Since the ostrich doesn’t fly, it doesn’t need a keel.
The ostrich doesn’t have hollow bones like a flying bird. Many of its bones are solid to provide strength for running and kicking and other aspects of land living.
The scientific name Strothio camelus means “camel-like.” Like the camel, the ostrich can go long periods without water. But it loves water and can even swim well.
Its eye is bigger than that of any other land animal. The massive number of photoreceptor cells and the large size of the image allow it to see in great detail. It can see long distances with telescopic sight. By day, it can identify moving objects the size of a dog up to 2.2 miles (3.5 km) away. At night, it can see a small creature 50 meters away. The ostrich usually lives in a very dusty environment, and it has a membrane that moves like a windshield wiper to keep the eye clear and moist.
The ostrich and the zebra often graze together in a symbiotic relationship. The ostrich’s keen eyesight combined with the zebra’s keen hearing provides protection for both creatures.
The ostrich fights with its feet, kicking forward because that is the way its knees bend. It can kill a lion with its powerful kick. Before attacking, it will perform a “dance of fury.” Its neck turns red, it squats low with its neck tucked in its wings, stretches out and swings rhythmically from side to side in harmony to the click-clack-click-clack sound it produces.
The female is called a hen and the male is called a cock or rooster. The hen is gray colored and the cock is mostly black with some white. One cock lives with a herd of up to seven females, one of which is dominant. The ostrich egg is six inches long and weighs as much as three pounds (equal to 24 chicken eggs). All of the females in a herd lay their eggs in one big nest called a dump nest, but each hen can recognize her own eggs. Only the dominant hen and cock incubate the eggs, the hen sitting on them in the day and the cock, at night. This provides good camouflage to protect the birds, since the light-colored hen blends in with the environment in the day and the dark-colored cock is nearly invisible at night.
Of the ostrich female, the Bible says, “She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding” (Job 39:16-17).
There are many ways that the female ostrich evidences her ignorance pertaining to and lack of concern for her offspring. “Several ostrich hens lay their eggs in one nest, but if there is no more room in the nest they deposit their eggs outside the nest in the sand. There other brooding hens, in the confusion of getting in and out of the nest, often crush these eggs. Hens may desert the nest if they are overfed, or if impatient they may leave the nest before all the chicks are hatched. If a human disturbs a nest, an ostrich may trample the eggs. Or a hen may sit on eggs in another nest, forgetting her own” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, referencing George Howe, “Job and the Ostrich: A Case Study in Biblical Accuracy” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Dec. 1963).
It is the male that raises the chicks, teaching them how to feed and protecting them from predators. He shelters them from the sun with his wings.
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