Welcome to White Sands National Monument

July 01, 2015

Welcome to White Sands National Monument

After leaving the incredible depths of the Carlsbad Caverns, we piled in our red SUV and made way to another one of New Mexico’s natural wonders - White Sands National Monument. Woah! Have you seen the glistening white sands dunes of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin? It’s often referred to as an immense white sand beach that extends as far as the eye can see. Fun Facts:
  1. Did you know that the even on the hottest days, the White Sand dunes are cool and comfortable to walk on? Why? Because Gypsum, the substance that forms the dunes doesn’t absorb heat.
  2. The White Sand Dunes stretch over 275 square miles! That’s more than 175,000 acres. Knowing that the average U.S. house is built on .31 acres, you could comfortably build over 540,000 homes on pristine beachfront (minus the sea) property.
  3. Adventurous visitors (like you) can go sledding down the dunes year round!
  4. The site of the first atomic bomb detonation is located at the boundary of the park’s norther border.
  5. For the ultimate adventurer, you can set up camp for a nighttime trek on the glowing, moonlit dunes.
  6. You’re able to freely explore the dunes on any of their four marked trails or take a guided tour with a park ranger that’s outfitted to lead a knowledgeable expedition.

Where did the Sand come from? White Sands National Monument lies in the Tularosa Basin and is surrounded by the limestone-rich mountain ranges of San Andres and Sacramento. Gypsum is the chief component of limestone and is considered unusual when compared to other rocks because of its soluble nature. Essentially, it’s a rock that dissolves entirely in water. When rain falls on the mountains surrounding the basin, the gypsum dissolves and runs down the mountains into the basin. Because the basin contains no outgoing waterways, all rainwater that fills the basin stays in the basin. It ultimately collects at the lowest spot on the basin floor, known as Lake Lucero. This lake is seasonal and at its peak season only contains about a foot of water. As the water evaporates through the season, the gypsum that remains either forms a crust on the lake bed, or, in some cases, turns into fragile selenite crystals.

Gypsum Crystals of White Sands

The gypsum crust and crystals, beaten so badly by the wind and natural elements, is eventually carried away throughout the basin in the form of white sand. How come animals that live here are white? Is this evidence for evolution or natural selection? Desert animals such as the kangaroo rats and bleached earless lizard are fascinating creatures of White Sands. Not only are they specially designed to live in the desert conditions, they have adapted to their environment for specialized protection against the elements and predators. Consider the kangaroo rat, a rodent, no doubt, yet equipped with a water retention system comparable to no other rodent on earth. Their secret lies in their kidneys. Research has shown that kangaroo rats have the most concentrated urine of all mammals. How’s that for bragging rights?  They excrete so little water in their bodily functions that they have little need for frequent water consumption. The bleached earless lizard is another example of spectacular adaptation. These little guys can easily vanish in the crystal-white sands when a predator draws near - thanks to their sandy-like, white skin. This camouflage feature helps them avoid their most natural predator, birds, which can easily detect color differences on the white sand below.

Bleached Earless Lizard and Kangaroo Rat

God equipped animals like the kangaroo rat and bleached earless lizard with the ability to pioneer earth’s constantly changing environments. This adaptation occurs however, within the limits of the animal’s created kind; meaning that they always retain the core attributes of their kind, such as the body plan and united vital organs. These adaptations do not need the addition of new genetic information, and thus, they could materialize naturally and rapidly as needed. Surprisingly to some, Biblical creationists and evolutionist agree with most of the theories associated with adaptation and natural selection. One of the main differing points for us to consider however, is that the biblical creation model recognizes that variations in species occur within their created kinds. Simply put, one kind cannot just randomly change into another kind. Evolutionists believe that we all have a single common ancestor and that natural selection somehow leads to a molecules-to-man evolution[1] . Not only is there no observable evidence to support an evolutionist’s all-encompassing, extreme views of natural selection, but an acceptance of this theory clearly rejects the authority of God’s Word.

[1] Natural Selection vs. Evolution: Answers in Genesis. https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/natural-selection-vs-evolution/

[2] Selenite, John Lodder. https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5042/5200373722_cc942d889f_o.jpg/

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