“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
If that cry startled you, then you probably obeyed its command and froze momentarily – though that was not because of the meaning of the word. When we are startled, we freeze. So I could have shouted “Boo!” and got the same result.
Scientists at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute have been trying to find out why we – and lots of animals – freeze when we are startled. For a fraction of a second, there is no possibility of movement – our joints have stiffened up, and this is caused by a release of seratonin. The startled freezing does not last long. It is over in a small fraction of a second, and is followed by a reaction.
Zuckerman Institute scientists experimented on flies, giving them two distinct stimuli. In one experiment, the flies were subject to sudden blackout, while in the other they experienced an imitation earthquake. In both cases, they froze, but then their subsequent actions were different. After the blackout, the flies moved slowly and cautiously, whereas after the earthquake, they sped up considerably. It would seem that the freezing forces their nervous systems to gather information so that they make a more “informed” response as they unfreeze.
Of course, the Columbia scientists look to evolution as the reason for this safety mechanism, so they expect us to believe that it evolved separately in an enormous number of different animals. As Christians, however, we understand this as something that God has designed, to allow animals to protect themselves.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You care even about the animals. How much more, then, do You care about us? Amen.
Author: Paul F. Taylor
Ref: The Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University. “Why do we freeze when startled? New study in flies points to serotonin.” ScienceDaily, 27 November 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191127161446.htm>. Image: Fruit fly, as used in experiments. Adobe Stock Photo, licensed to author.
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