The eastern long-necked turtles are found living in any slow-moving or still water along the eastern coast of Australia, from central Queensland in the north to Victoria in the south (i.e. subtropical to temperate areas). Their protective shell grows to about 25 cm long, with the neck extending to almost the same length. Their feet have long claws and are webbed for swimming.
In times of drought they have the remarkable ability to “estivate” (aestivate), that is, to burrow into the ground and wait for the rain to come. It is an ability shared by some fish, frogs and crocodiles. For this turtle the estivation period can occasionally be well over a year!
During estivation, activity ceases and the heart rate slows down dramatically. Yet when the rain comes, the turtle is able to move again as if time had stood still. There is no loss of muscle strength, in contrast with other creatures whose inactivity causes loss of huge amounts of muscle tone. Any of us who have had a broken bone in plaster know well that after just a few weeks muscles in that limb lose much weight. Without this amazing capability to estivate, most creatures will die after just a few days without water.
The other remarkable ability of this turtle is that it knows whether to estivate or move overland to an adjacent water hole. Researchers don’t know how they do that. It is probably because of a keen sense of smell. But whatever the reason, estivation is another built-in ability only a ‘designer’ could have provided.
Estivation is a huge problem for evolutionists. It’s not surprising that there is little information available about the many creatures that estivate.
As with all turtles, the eastern long-necked species can withdraw its head and legs inside its shell for protection. Its shell acts as a shield and helmet, so that predators are unable to inflict any damage.
We are instructed in the Bible by the apostle Paul to:
“put on the whole armour of God … above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6.13-17).
There are clearly tremendous gaps in the Theory of Evolution. But the amazing natural examples of intelligent design tell a different story and, like a suit of armour, defend the Biblical account of creation.