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Observations placeholder

Foster and Kreitzman - Seasons of Life - Seasonal activity



Type of Spiritual Experience


In the following extract, the key words are anticipated change.   Most of the functions listed in this description are triggered by functions in other systems, but ones that are not directly related to the activity.  Thus a mink doesn’t grow its winter coat when the temperature is so cold it needs its coat, it grows it before it needs it.  Similarly birds migrate, animals stock up on food, whales migrate, in anticipation of events, not as a direct result of them.  Thus their triggers are not the ones we would expect – or for that matter the ones we might respond to. 

All of the functions listed in the quote are instinctive.  The animal or insect does not have conscious control over that behaviour, the behaviour is being triggered by an input from another system.  A butterfly in a chrysalis cannot see the weather outside and the temperature fluctuations are often so great that using temperature alone as a means of ‘deciding’ when to emerge would not be terribly safe, if it can detect temperature at all.  We have no evidence that insects, for example, can sense temperature in the way we can.

A whale in its darkened, temperature semi constant environment has no way of ‘knowing’ the seasons have changed and it is time to migrate to catch the plankton blooms.  It does not have a diary, nor does it have a watch!  All these creatures seem to have functions within their own system that are able to detect triggers from other systems – primarily in this case the orbit of the earth round the sun in relation to its angle of tilt.  

Some biologists [not the authors note]  tend to rather glibly attribute the entire process to the creature itself in a sort of mechanistic throw away paragraph.  So…. a question.  Where is this ‘internal calendar’ and how do they ‘shrink their gonads’ and ‘adjust their physiology’.  I have yet to meet any creature that can do either as a conscious act.

The systems of the universe - their sysytems -  do it for them

A description of the experience

Seasons of Life – Russell G Foster and Leon Kreitzman

 Most living things anticipate the predictable seasonal change in weather.  Some animals run or fly away from adverse change and may migrate thousands of kilometres; others stay put, lower their metabolic rate and wait it out.  Some put on winter clothing. 

As the days shorten in autumn and their prolactin levels drop, mink grow the thick winter coat so much prized by a certain kind of shopper.  Plants time their life cycle stages to seasonal activity and insects do the same, such as the emergence of the butterfly from its protective chrysalis in late spring or early summer. 

Nearly all plants and animals time their reproduction to seasonal cycles in weather and resources.  Many birds exploit the springtime burst in food in the high latitudes of the Arctic to feed their young.  Whales migrate up the western seaboard of the Americas to feed on the plankton bloom in the cold northern Canadian waters. 

Other animals such as the meerkats of the Kalahari stay put and survive, exploiting seasonal changes by modifying their behaviour..................

Migrating birds use an internal calendar to predict their departure time in early autumn and get ready for the migration by laying down fat, shrinking gonads and adjusting their physiology and social behaviour.

The source of the experience

Foster and Kreitzmann

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps