John Stear, 16 May 2005
Answers in Genesis needs to "chew the cud" again
Dictionary.com defines "cud" as -
1. Food regurgitated from the first stomach to the mouth of a
ruminant and chewed again.
2. Something held in the mouth and chewed, such as a quid of tobacco.
Answers in Genesis (AiG), in Answers Update of 12 March, their weekly email newsletter, once again attempts to portray the Bible as scientifically accurate by quotingthe reference in Leviticus to rabbits chewing the cud. They begin by saying -
For many years, scientists used the rabbit or "hare" to prove the Bible supposedly wrong ...They claimed that the rabbit didn't chew its cud or have the same stomach system as other cud chewers like cows, and therefore the Bible was wrong. [my emphasis]
On the basis of that statement alone AiG have shown themselves to be as much in error as the Bible. The fact is that rabbits DO NOT chew their cud, and they DO NOT have "the same stomach system as other cud chewers like cows", therefore the Bible IS wrong!
Rabbits do engage in a process called, among other things, refection, but this process is not related in any way to cud chewing as practised by ruminants. My dictionary defines a ruminant as -
Any of various hoofed, even-toed, usually horned mammals of the suborder Ruminantia, such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and giraffes, characteristically having a stomach divided into four compartments and chewing a cud consisting of regurgitated, partially digested food.
Rabbits are not ruminants!
At this site, refection, as practised by rabbits, is described thus -
Three to eight hours after eating, and thus mainly at night, soft, mucus-covered caecal pellets are expelled and eaten directly from the anus (a process known as caecotrophy, coprophagy, refection, or pseudorumination). Arrival of the caecotrophs at the anus triggers a reflex licking of the anus and ingestion of the caecotrophs, which are swallowed whole and not chewed. [my emphasis]
It's clear that refection is in no way similar to cud chewing.
AiG states -
When a rabbit first eats something, the food passes through its digestive system rapidly, undergoing very little digestion. These are the green pellets one finds when raising rabbits! The rabbit will then eat these green pellets, which are actually their cud, and finish chewing and digesting them. They then pass on out as brown waste pellets. So rabbits really do chew their cud.
As English naturalist R M Lockley, author of the excellent book "The Private Life of the Rabbit", demonstrates on page 105 that rabbits DO NOT chew these pellets. AiG is wrong again. I repeat, rabbits DO NOT chew their cud!
...each soft pellet is separate and by the time it reaches the rectum is enveloped in a strong membrane ...these soft pellets pass down to the rectum in glossy clusters. They are swallowed whole by the rabbit, that is, without breaking the enveloping membranes. ...although the rabbit sometimes appears to chew this faecal "cud" after collecting it from the anus, with movements of the jaws, ... Griffiths and Davies assert that the soft pellets are found whole in the stomach and therefore must be swallowed whole. [my emphasis]
It would seem that the authors of Leviticus observed the rabbits' jaw movements and mistook this as evidence of cud-chewing. Not very reliable evidence on which to make a scientific pronouncement. Besides, the evidence for and understanding of refection in rabbits has only come to light in the last forty or so years, so if scientists who study rabbit physiology were ignorant of refection for hundreds of years, how much more ignorant were those ancient authors of Leviticus?