AN AMAZING FACT: The lungfish of South Africa is an extraordinary creature with remarkable abilities. While the lungfish has gills like any other fish, it can also breathe air through its mouth, where it is processed by a modified swim bladder that works like a lung. When water levels are high this is not so important, but during the dry season when ponds and rivers start drying up, most fish are left desperately flopping near the surface in shallow pools. Only the air-gulping lungfish is able to survive these extreme conditions.
But as the sun dries up the last muddy puddles of water, even the lungfish would bake without its other amazing ability. To avoid being cooked by the heat or eaten by predators, the lungfish digs down into the mud. It does this by squirming down into the muck like a tunnel-drilling machine. As It goes, it swallows the mud with its mouth and pushes it out through its gills. After digging deep below the surface, the lungfish curls up and begins to exude clear mucus over its body. This dries and hardens into a leathery, waterproof cocoon, leaving only a small breathing hole by its mouth. Baked into this mud tomb, the lungfish slows its metabolism to about 1/60 of its normal rate and “estivates”—a type of summer hibernation. The lungfish can survive in this condition for up to four years or until the rains return.
If you dig up one of these hibernating lungfish it will appear to be just a piece of hardened mud. This has led to some bizarre experiences for the tribal people. I’m sure more than once brick huts have been built from mud found in the river bottom. Then, when the rains return and the walls are moistened by water, the hidden lungfish come back to life. Wide-eyed children are not quite sure what to think when they see wiggling, slimy fish erupting from the bricks in their walls!
Of course, this would not be the first time someone believed rocks can be transformed into living creatures. John the Baptist warned the arrogant, unrepentant Jewish leaders not to even think of saying Abraham was their father when God could just as well make children for Abraham out of stones—and perhaps they would have had softer hearts!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Matthew 3:9