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February 18, 2012

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Q: Do rabbits really “chew the cud”?

A: Two places in the Bible include the hare among animals that chew the cud. Deuteronomy 14:7 states, “Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax.”

In the modern scientific classification system, animals that chew the cud (cattle, sheep, deer, giraffes, and camels) are called ruminants. Ruminants have four stomach compartments. They swallow their food into one stomach compartment where food is partially digested. Then the food is regurgitated back into the mouth, chewed again, and then swallowed into a different stomach compartment.

Obviously, rabbits do not share the digestive anatomy of modern ruminants. However, to describe rabbits chewing the cud is not incorrect.

Rabbits engage in an activity called cecotrophy, in which small pellets of partially digested food (called cecotropes) are passed through the animal but are then reingested. These cecotropes serve as a very important source of nutrition for the animal.

Is this the same as cud? In the final analysis, it is. Cud-chewing completes the digestion of partially digested food. Why would it be strange to think that centuries ago, the idea of “cud” had a somewhat broader meaning than a modern definition?

Continue reading to see how Scripture is once again validated as scientifically accurate, even in the details of a rabbit’s digestive process.

News to Note Quick Look

Stripy ones don’t look tasty: Move over, Rudyard Kipling. Here’s a “Just So Story” extrapolating from Hungarian horseflies and plastic zebras to the evolutionary past of zebras on the African savannah. Read more.

Forbid them not: Budget Travel is taking a poll for “15 places every kid should see before 15.” Several atheist groups are very upset the Creation Museum recently made it to the top. Read more.


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