Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part I

These are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “You indicate that Lehi traveling southward along the South Pacific Gyre would move into the West Wind Drift or current of the Southern Ocean heading eastward across the southern Pacific. However, it seems to me that if the ship was in the South Pacific Gyre, as you claim, its momentum with the current would continue within that current and head toward Australia, then turn back northward toward the Arabian Sea. How does it get into the Southern Ocean?” Frank G.
    Response: Sorry. I try not to get too detailed in my descriptions of such matters. The fact is that the southern arm of the South Pacific Gyre, as it flows southward along its eastern counter-clockwise arm, fans out and becomes part of the slower West Wind Drift along the latter’s northern band or flow.
Top: Leaving the Arabian Peninsula (red line), Lehi would have sailed down into the Indian Ocean Gyre; Bottom: The Indian Ocean Gyre fans out at the turn into the West Wind Drift because of the speed of the latter and the Prevailing Westerlies. Lehi’s course would have been picked up by the Southern Ocean (dotted red line) and pushed into the West Wind Drift heading out toward the Pacific Ocean beyond Australia and New Zealand
    This position would keep Nephi’s ship in the northern portion of the West Wind Drift (Southern Ocean) where the currents are both warmer and subject to the curvature of the South American shelf that turns the current northward into the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current that moves northward along the western South American coast. In turn, as this current, which is an upwelling of cold (Antarctic) water, as it nears the 30º south latitude (Tropic of Capricorn), begins to slow down in speed and force, reaching what is sometimes referred to as the doldrums, as the air is forced upward and the winds die down to near zero movement—which would be the ideal place where a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” could steer out of the strong current and head in toward landfall at, in this case, a most ideal harbor.
Lehi’s Course would have been in the northern edges of the West Wind Drift, and as such, in warmer waters and subject to the northern turn from the South American shelf and the Humboldt Current
    Comment #2: “When Nephi states that he and his family journeyed in an uninhabited region ("wilderness") - for all the Jaredites had been destroyed - how was it possible for them to find oxen roaming in the wilds (see 1 Nephi 18:25)? Did the author of the Book of Mormon fail to realize that an ox is in fact a castrated bull? If nobody was inhabiting the land, who castrated the bulls?” John T.
    Response: We have answered this before in this blog. However, since it is asked again, the male of the bovine genus of quadrupeds, castrated and grown to his size or nearly so, are called oxen. The young male is called in America a steer. The same animal not castrated is called a bull. These distinctions are well established with us in regard to domestic animals of this genus. On the other hand, when we speak of wild animals of this kind, the term “ox” is sometimes applied both to the male and female, and in zoology, the same practice exists in regard to the domestic animals. Therefore, the term “ox,” does not in its overall use refer to castrated cattle, but has a more generic meaning.
Genera Bibos, or Wild Oxen, found in the wild today, the largest of all wild cattle. They are any of various wild bovines especially of the genera Bos or closely related Bibos
    Perhaps it would be well for critics to look things up  before sounding off about that which they do not know--the knowledge of the world is indeed much greater than its individual parts.
    Comment #3: “Your description of the Baobab barges in "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica" is quite interesting. I have a few follow-ups, such as 1) How long would the trunk be able to grow to seal the doors shut after being uprooted? 2) Are there any Baobab relatives growing in South America? 3) Has there been any drift studies starting in the Indian Ocean similar to those pictured in your book showing drift courses from the west coast of South and Central America?” Michael R.
Response: One of the many remarkable properties of the Baobab is that once a tree is down, it can continue to grow indefinitely. Many in a forest continue such growth after being blown down, hollowed out by nature and toppled, etc. In a future post in this series we'll show how the tree grows around objects implanted in it after it has been hollowed out.
    As for Baobab relatives in America, or the Western Hemisphere, the answer is "no." At least none are known to be growing naturally. There is a question whether the Baobab seeds would spread by nature or accident, such as drifting on oceans, etc., which seems to be in the negative as borne out by its very limited locations of long-time growth. Where it grows today seems to be where it has always grown or was deliberately transplanted by seed. Africa and Madagascar are considered to be their indigenous habitat along with this one location in Arabia. They also grow in Australia, though how they got there is a subject of some debate among scientists and experts on the tree's habitat. One such tree was actually featured in the 2008 movie "Australia," with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
There are only eight species of the Baobab Tree (Adansonia) known throughout the world.  Six are indigenous to Madagascar, with one species native to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where they are known as the Baobab, and one in Australia—known as the Boab. Adansonia gregorii, the Australian Boab tree, is found only in the Kimberley and western Victoria Region of the Northern Territory. 
    Of the eight known Adansonia species, A. gregorii and A. digitata (from mainland Africa) are very closely related, both visually and biologically, compared to the six Adansonia species native to Madagascar.  Why is the Australian Boab restricted to the Kimberley and Western Victoria River Region, yet it’s counterpart in mainland Africa has a much wider distribution?  The answer is believed to be in how it reached Australia! Experts claim there are three possibilities:
    1) Species evolution prior to the break-up of Western Gondwana (before the continents formed), but that would be unlikely since all species on earth of all living matter ended at the time of Noah’s Flood. Besides these same experts believe the size were too small to have evolved from this source; 2) Transoceanic Dispersal, meaning the Boab reached Australia shores by floating as seed pods across the Indian Ocean. This theory is questionable because the shell of the seed pod is the thinnest of all the Adansonia species which makes it unlikely to have survived floating across the ocean before getting waterlogged. In addition, the direction of oceanic currents are unlikely to have resulted in seed pods reaching the north-west coast of Australia. Also, if it did float from Africa, it would be established more broadly in regions across the northern part of Australia; and 3) The Boab was brought to Australia by human migration. The very close genetic connection between the African Baobab and the Australian Boad compared to the six Adansonia species native to Madagascar, raises the possibility that dispersal of the Boab occurred with human migrations out of Africa which commenced thousands of years ago. 
As for drift voyages, I know of none that relate to the type Thor Heyerdahl did in 1947 from Peru to Raroia near Tahiti in Polynesia on "Kon-Tiki," however, there have been a few accidental drift voyages where rafts and small fishing craft have drifted many hundreds to in some cases thousands of miles in the Indian Ocean covering the routes we show for Nephi's ship. 
Alexander George Findlay wrote of this in 1876 "A Directory of the Navigation of the Indian Ocean," wrote "In the Indian Ocean we have not that abundant choice of material which has been worked into the system developed in the North Atlantic, and therefore have less confidence in the exact definitive estimate of their velocity and duration, still there is sufficient known, with accuracy, to describe the direction and probable rate of the various drifts that will be encountered in a voyage in the Indian Ocean." He also wrote: "The general drift of the currents is like that of the winds following the direction impressed upon them by their action."
    Since then, of course, there have been numerous computer drift voyages made from the numerous tracks of these accidental drift voyages. On the other hand, while computer drift voyages have been conducted along this track, I know of no actual drift voyages that covered this entire distance (though it is used for numerous sailing race routes and "quick passage" routes from the Indian Ocean to the South American coast).
    Comment #4: “I read where barley and wheat mentioned in the Book of Mormon were probably not derived from Old World "seeds" that Nephi's group brought with them in 600 B.C. Indeed, plant transfers from one land to another often don't succeed in the long run, and we may assume that many or most references to grains and plants in the Book of Mormon were to New World plants. How does this fit in with your thinking?” Marilyn G.
    Response: Both uninformed members and critics often take the wrong approach in trying to either defend or criticize what is found in the scriptural record. While it is true that seeds from one climate environment do not do well, if grow at all, in a different climate environment (especially in B.C. times), we have shown many times here in this blog that the seeds brought from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24)—a Mediterranean Climate—were then planted not in Mesoamerica, a subtropical climate, but in La Serena (Coquimbo) Chile, which is a matching Mediterranean Climate, and would have grown very well.

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