Home| Letters| Links| RSS| About Us| Contact Us

On the Frontline

What's New

Table of Contents

Index of Authors

Index of Titles

Index of Letters

Mailing List

subscribe to our mailing list:


Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site


[Write a Reply] [Letters Index]

Title Author Date
Your website Naftali Zeligman Nov 17, 2003
The suggestion that the hyrax (Heb. shafan, “rock badger” if you wish) chews the cud was raised in the 1960s by Dr. Hubert Hendrichs and made some headlines. Yet, most zoologists today doubt the accuracy of Hendrichs’ observations. Hyraxes do sometimes make chewing-like movements with their jaws without having eaten anything immediately prior to that moment; this was interpreted by Hendrichs as a sign of rumination, but on closer observation no indication of real chewing was found. These chewing-like movements in hyraxes are likely to perform some communication function. At most, it may be that occasionally hyraxes do vomit some swallowed food back to the oral cavity, chew it a bit more and then swallow it again – but that is not a part of hyraxes’ normal behavior, nor has it indeed been observed with any reasonable degree of confidence. At present, this remains a mere conjecture.
Regarding hares, you are right that hares and rabbits are “somewhat similar”: they both belong to the family Leporidae, and their physiology and behavior is much similar. (On Leporidae, see the webpage of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
The idea that hares/rabbits “rechew their cud,” as you have put it, is, however, entirely mistaken. I have not seen the article in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia in full, but the quotation you brought judiciously refrains from using the word “cud”; instead, it says that the hare “chews food previously swallowed” (emphasis mine). I think that it is a reference to coprophagy – eating one’s excrement in order to extract the nutritional value it might contain. Hares and rabbits do practice coprophagy; but even in the “weblog” you referred to (actually, message 19508 in Yahoo DebunkCreation discussion group) this phenomenon is described as different from cud-chewing. As another message (19509) in the same discussion group has put it, “Rabbits do not eat cud or regurgitated material. Ruminants do that, and rabbits are not ruminants. Rabbits eat their shit, which still contains a lot of organic material that gets extratced as it passes through the gut a second time. Shit is not cud. Big difference.” (See also messages 19510-19512 and 19517-19518 in that discussion group.)
Cud is food regurgitated from the stomach to the oral cavity via the throat (the foodpipe). The Hebrew for “cud,” gerah, is evidently derived from the same etymon as the Hebrew for “throat,” garon. In fact, in the early post-Biblical period the term gerah itself was used to designate the throat (Mishnah Tractate Yoma 2:3, 7; Tractate Tamid 3:1, 4:3). Thus, coprophagy cannot qualify for “chewing the cud” (literally, “bringing up the cud,” Heb. ma’aleh gerah, which is ascribed by the Pentateuch to the hare and the hyrax).

Related Articles: A List of Some Problematic Issues