Rube Goldberg Flukes
“…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life….”
The lancet fluke is a parasite that accomplishes its life cycle in a most complicated, Rube Goldberg, manner.
Mature lancet flukes live in cows and other grazing animals. Their eggs are spread in the manure left by the animal. Snails, which naturally eat the manure, eat the eggs.
Once in the snail’s intestines, the eggs hatch. The flukes make their way to the outside of the snail. Meanwhile, the irritated snail tries to get rid of the flukes by imprisoning them in balls of slime, which it leaves behind in the grass. A foraging ant is likely to find the ball, filled with hundreds of flukes. When the ant eats it, the flukes leave the ant’s intestinal tract, finally settling as a cluster of nerves that control the ant’s mandibles. The ant seems perfectly normal until the sun begins to set. Then the ant, under the control of the flukes, climbs a blade of grass, and the mandible clamps shut on the end. There the ant waits to be consumed by a grazer, where the lancet life cycle begins all over. Even stranger, if the ant isn’t eaten by the time the sun returns, the ant returns to normal life, until the next sunset.
Although parasites are part of the curse of sin, the lancet fluke is still a testimony to God’s incredible creativity.
Author: Paul A. Bartz
Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to reverse the curse of our sin with His death and resurrection. Amen.
Ref: Discover, 8: 2000, p. 80-85, “Do Parasites Rule the World?”