Critters With Tools

Our son, Russ, was fascinated by the welding processes. He was interested in arc welding, gas welding, heli-arc, Mig, Tig, and the complete spectrum of methods for joining metals. He took all the classes that were available and by the time he graduated was becoming an accomplished welder. After high school, he worked a job building bumpers for off-road vehicles. He continued working welding jobs and sharpening his skills with an eye to getting into the union. When he was about 19, he hired on with a company that had a contract in Indio, California. The contract was for fabrication of a conveyor system for a sand and gravel company.

If you should ask anyone about Indio, they will tell you that it is hot! Indio is located 130 miles east of Los Angeles where the Colorado and Mojave deserts come together. The record high temperature for January is 97 degrees and for December, it is 98 degrees. Record highs for the rest of the months vary from 100 to 125 degrees.

I like stories about animals and their ability to think and reason and am especially intrigued by stories of animals that have learned to use tools.

Russ was working over in Indio at the hottest part of the year. They were building a conveyor system for a sand and gravel company. They were building this conveyor in sections and ended up fabricating nearly a mile of it. The man Russ was working for had rented the property next to the sand and gravel company so they wouldn’t have to transport the finished sections of conveyor too far to set them up. The rented property looked like it had been an RV park. A good portion of it was paved, with asphalt streets and pads. There was a small building that looked it had served as an office. This was a real plus as it was a safe place for Russ and the other guys to lock up their tools at night. Also, one side of the building had an awning that provided a shady area for the guys to eat lunch.

While eating lunch one day, Russ noticed that there were several small lizards living in the area. They were small, probably no more than 4″ long and were black, with a yellow stripe on each side. Russ was entertained by watching them forage for bugs and whatever else was a part of their diet. One problem, of course, was

that they needed to cover a lot of ground to find enough food to sustain them. Those areas that were covered by black-top were so hot you could fry an egg on them. Necessity being the mother of invention, the lizards had found a way to cross the asphalt without getting fried themselves. When a little lizard guy wanted to cross the tarmac, it would locate a small twig approximately the same length as itself. Next, it would pick up the twig with its mouth and take off running across the black-top. When the heat became unbearable, it would drop the stick and climb up on top of it. When its feet had cooled off sufficiently, it would jump down, pick up the stick in its mouth again, and run like the devil. By repeating this drill a few times, the lizard could safely reach its destination. Wouldn’t that be something to see?

Life is hard! All living things face challenges every day. The ability to think and reason makes it possible to solve problems and survive.

Dave and Russ Thomas
June 23, 2017


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