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The article below (from "A Symposium on Creation" Vols. 1-6 @ http://www.creationism.org/symposium/) is used by permission of Pacific Meridian Publishing Co., copyright ©1977.  All rights to these materials are reserved.  Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Pacific Meridian Publishing Co..


The Place of Trace Elements in the Creation

by C.E. Allan Turner

From: "A Symposium on Creation" (Vol. VI), pg 137-151
©1977 - Pacific Meridian Publishing Co.

C.E. ALLAN TURNER

Turner was born into a farm family in Hampshire, England in 1907.  His education was received at the University College of Southampton and King's College of the University of London.  From that university he holds the degrees of B.S. (chemistry, 1929), M.S. (education, 1948), and Ph.D. (education, 1952).  His doctoral thesis was entitled, "The Puritan Contribution to Scientific Education in the Seventeenth Century in England."

After a career of teaching science and religion, he retired to chichester, Sussex, England.  For the last twenty years of his service he was master-in-charge of the Department of Religious Education at Surbiton Grammar School, Surrey.  He is an elder of an Evangelical Free Church and a lay preacher.  Always interested in the study of the natural world, particularly in biology, biochemistry, geology and history, he is the author of a number of articles and pamphlets favoring creation and critical of evolution.  He is the chairman of the Evolution Protect Movement (Creation Science Movement) in Great Britain and is a contributor of Symposium on Creation II and Symposium on Creation IV.


Introduction

The majority of the 92 elements normally listed as found in the Earth were at one time regarded as scientific curiosities. However, during the last half-century, chemical research has increased greatly, while new and improved analytical techniques have developed. Consequently, much new knowledge has been brought to light about the importance of very small concentrations of certain elements.

The earlier metallurgists found the value of adding a little carbon, cobalt or chromium to iron in making steels for various purposes. To this list aluminum, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium, wolfram and other elements have been added for their important effects in steels. Alloys of many more metals have been similarly produced.

The effects on living creatures of small amounts of certain elements alone or in compounds has long been known. Most of these, such as arsenic, antimony, lead and phosphorus, have been recognized chiefly as poisons. Through the ages the precious metals were thought to have beneficial effects, but this lacked confirmation.

The principal elements regarded as essential for plants and animals are comparatively few. Usually in compounds, they are calcium, carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, magnesium, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur, with the addition of sodium for animal life. To these must now be added an increasing number of "trace elements" in very low concentration. The first to come to mind, obviously, is iodine, probably essential only to animal life. At present the trace elements regarded as needed by both animals and plants are copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Additions to the list are cobalt and iodine for animals, boron and silicon for most plants. Each group probably will receive more such elements soon.

The quantities of trace elements present in organisms, of course, vary. In man the total amounts to less than 0.005% of body weight and if iron is excluded, the total is under a fifth of that figure.

Aluminum
Cobalt
Gold
Lithium
Mercury
Selenium
Sodium
Boron
Copper
Iodine
Magnesium
Molybdenum
Silicon
Vanadium
Cadmium
Fluorine
Iron
Manganese
Nickel
Silver
Zinc

Iron

The element which, more than any other, has given man increasing control over his environment in this iron age proves even more important in the Creation as an essential for his very life. It is an interesting fact that the ancient Romans appreciated the value of using solutions of iron salts for the treatment of anemia. To J. von Liebig, however, fell the honor of the great discovery of iron combining with oxygen in the blood.

The amount of this element in an adult human being of 70 kg. is 3 to 4 gm. or about 0.004% of the body weight; 65% of this is in the blood, nearly all being in the hemoglobin. Here it is locked in a complex compound of which it comprises 0.335%. The structure of this substance is one of the marvels of the Creation, and its function—through the reaction of the iron atoms in it with oxygen—is vital for respiration. It consists of four units, each composed of a molecule of haem united to the protein globin. Perutz and his colleagues in 1960, using X-ray crystallography, found it consists of four polypeptide chains, each containing a haem molecule. These chains interlock and form an ellipsoid of molecular weight 67,000. The haem molecule contains a single atom of iron which is combined with 74 other atoms and is 9% of its weight. This atom is the center of four pyrrole rings, which are arranged in a structure known as the porphin ring.

Iron is also found in human blood plasma in a number of other complex compounds. One such substance is transferrin or siderophilin. This is a protein, one gram of which is able to take up 1.25 mg. of ferric iron for conveyance to various tissues. Iron leaving the plasma is stored in bone marrow, the liver and the spleen. Storage compounds include ferritin, which consists of a protein of molecular weight 460,000 combined with 20% of its weight of iron.   Another  of  these  compounds  is  the  insoluble haemosiderin.

A number of other compounds containing iron are also apparently needed in the composition of certain other creatures. One of these is an iron proteinate, haemoerythrin, which functions like hemoglobin, but is unlike it in structure. It is pale when reduced, but red-brown when oxygenated; it is found in marine worms such as Phaseolosoma and the brachipod Lingula. In certain polychaete worms, chlorocruorin is found. This consists of a protein combined with a porphyrin containing iron; it is red in concentrated solutions and green in diluted solutions.

Enzymes are complex compounds found only in living cells. Their function is to catalyze specific chemical reactions which are often important for the life process. Some fifteen of them contain iron. One group of these compounds are oxidases, which are needed for respiration and the oxidation of organic compounds in the blood. Catalase is one of the most powerful known, and consists of four iron atoms incorporated in a compound with a molecular weight of 248,000, and is obtained in a crystalline state from the liver. One molecule of it can decompose 2,640,000 molecules of hydrogen peroxide per minute at 0°C.

Lactic or lactate dehydrogenase, used to oxidize lactic acid, also has been crystallized and found to contain iron. Pyrocatechase, with a molecular weight of 82,000, includes two atoms of iron in its structure. Succinic dehydrogenase of molecular weight 200,000 has been separated and found to contain four iron atoms. Other enzymes containing iron include DPNH cytochrome C reductase, which has several iron atoms in its molecule of weight 78,000.

Iron also has been found to be an essential component of the catalyst involved in the production of chlorophyll in plants. And this last compound, found in and fundamental to all green plants, is really essential ultimately to life on the Earth. Thus iron in both animals and many plants has been given indispensable functions by the Creator.

Copper

Copper was long thought to have only toxic effects on living organisms. The element amounts to but 0.0004% of the weight of the human body, or 1/10 that of the iron present. Nevertheless, it is essential that it be there. The fetus, especially in its liver, is rich in its store of trace elements, particularly copper. The concentration of the element in late pregnancy is three times that in normal human blood, which contains 0.09 mg. per 100 ml.

Anemia due to copper deficiency is morphologically indistinguishable from iron-deficiency anemia. The value of copper in the regeneration of the blood of animals and of children has been demonstrated.

Lack of copper in the diet leads to bone deformity due to reduced calcium assimilation. Low levels of the element in food have resulted in poor growth, retarded milk production and impaired fertility in cattle. Degeneration of the nervous system, causing such diseases as "Sway Back" in sheep and heart failure ("Falling Disease") in some Australian cattle, was traced to copper deficiency. This discovery led to six million acres of pasture being reclaimed for grazing by the application of copper.

Wool is largely composed of molecules of the protein keratin. Lack of copper in the food of sheep causes wool to lack crimp and to be steely or brittle. This is due to the absence of the enzyme containing copper, which controls the linking of these molecules.

Among plants, marked increases in growth occurred when copper was used with nitrogenous fertilizers. Application of copper compounds to peat soils greatly improved their fertility. This application also gave a higher copper content to the plants, with consequent benefit to the cattle. Spectacular responses by rice crops to the addition of copper to the soil in Bombay State have also been reported.

Haemocyanin is a blue respiratory pigment with copper in its prosthetic group and is found in the blood of crabs, squids and octopuses. In some crustaceans it has a molecular weight of 360,000; in Limulus (the horseshoe crab) the molecular weight is 1,300,000; in the octopus 2,000,000; and in the Helix (a land snail) it is 5,000,000. It is not a porphyrin like hemoglobin but a copper proteinate.

Haemocuprin, a protein containing 0.34% copper, has been isolated from human blood cells and from plasma. Another protein, hepatoprotein, containing the same amount of copper, is found in the liver. Some brain proteins contain copper; among them is cerebrocuprein I, which has a molecular weight of about 35,000 and includes two atoms of copper.

Thus the element has been given vital roles by God in His Creation. Furthermore, a number of important enzymes have been found to contain copper. Among these are A2-globulin or caeruloplasmin, monamine oxidase and Ã-aminolaevulic acid dehydrase. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) oxidase has been shown to contain six atoms of the element in its molecular weight of 146,000, or 0.26% copper. Tyrosinase contains 0.3% copper and laccase 0.34%. Polyphenol oxidase contains 0.2 to 0.3% of the element in the form of four atoms in the molecular weight of about 100,000, while uricase has a single atom of copper in the same molecular weight. Copper comprises 0.004% of the dry weight of yeast, which contains a number of enzymes.

Zinc

The element zinc forms only 0.0001% of the body. Human blood contains about 0.75 mg. per 100 ml., and nearly all of this zinc is found in the red cells combined in the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. This compound has a molecular weight of 30,000 and contains one zinc atom. Its very important function, vital to respiration, is to catalyze the splitting of carbonic acid into carbon dioxide and water. The element also is present in alcohol dehydrogenase, which contains four or five atoms of zinc in its molecule of weight 150,000. It is found also in the enzymes alkaline phosphatase, carboxypeptidase, lactic dehydrogenase and glutamic dehydrogenase.

The zinc content of viable human sperm is very high. Its presence is necessary also for the proper functioning of the male reproductive organs. Thus the element is another divinely-appointed essential to the survival of life.

Deficiency in the element has a particularly adverse effect on fruit, legume, cereal and grass crops. Sugar cane yield in Natal, South Africa, was greatly increased by the application of zinc salts to deficient soil.

It is well known that the hormone insulin is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin is a protein which has a relationship with zinc. While active material free of the metal can be obtained, zinc is present in the crystalline form of insulin used clinically; it has a molecular weight of 6,000. The pancreas in which it is formed is rich in the element. In the treatment of diabetes, protamine zinc insulin added to insulin produces the advantage of prolonging the effect of the injections.

Manganese

Manganese is another element which was thought unlikely to have a beneficial function in the life process. It is only 0.00016% of the human body and about eight millionths of the dry matter of plants. Yet it is found in many enzymes or as an active part of their prosthetic groups. These include arginase, pancreas, nuclease, phosphoglucokinase, hydroxylamine reductase and uricase. In chickens, pigs, dogs and rabbits it is reported that a deficiency of the element has resulted in malformed bones. An excess or deficiency in the case of cows caused a 20 % reduction in gestation. Egg production also was decreased by a deficiency of manganese. It is thus important for growth, bone formation and fertility in the animal creation, while it also assists hemoglobin regeneration.

Plants in many cases show remarkable benefit from the presence of traces of manganese in the soil. It is involved in the activation of enzymes concerned with the formation of the vital substance chlorophyll, and all chlorophyll tissues contain the greatest concentration of manganese. Over 50% increase in the carotene (the precursor of vitamin C) content of soybean leaves occurred where a manganese deficiency was made good. "Gray Speck" is a disease affecting oats where the element is lacking. The addition of manganese salts to apparently healthy potatoes doubled the crops. In South Africa the production of certain apple and pear orchards was increased by 450% by the application of the element. Similarly a 100% increase in wheat yield is reported after spraying with manganese sulphate solution. The application of the element in the correct quantities produced an increase of 18% in the yield of tomatoes and a 28% increase in their vitamin C content. It also diminished the undesirable protein zinc in maize by 15% and increased other proteins.

It has been found that mollusks from very different parts of the world are rich in the element. The freshwater bivalve Andonta Cygena in particular has a large amount, chiefly in the liver and gills. There manganese is present in the form of a metallo-organic complex, that is, manganese and protein, the significance of which still has to be discovered. Earlier investigators incorrectly thought it had a respiratory function.

Cobalt

Cobalt long seemed to have no relevance to life. Yet the discovery of its function led to the curing of the disease Phalaris Staggers in sheep and cattle in vast areas of Australia, Russia and elsewhere by the application of cobalt salts.

Though cobalt is the only metallic atom of the 183 in cobalmin or the vitamin B-12 molecule, it is essential there and amounts to 4% of the total weight. The quantity of cobalmin in the normal human body is extremely small, being about 80 micrograms (millionths of a gram) altogether. The intake of this remarkable compound need be only 1 microgram a day, but without it, nervous disorders and anemia occur. In nature it is synthesized by the flora or micro-organisms in the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants from cobalt supplied in the diet. It is the anti-pernicious anemia factor in the liver extract used clinically. Beef kidney and liver, containing 15 to 20 micrograms per 100 gm., are the best sources for the diet; it is absent from plant tissues. It was isolated in 1948 by E. L. Rickes and his colleagues. The administration of small amounts of cobalt salts stimulate erythropoieten production for blood.

Cobalt is required also by the bacterium Rhizobium, which fixes nitrogen in the roots of leguminous plants, a process which greatly improves the fertility of soils. The use of cobalt salts thus produces a 60% increase in soybean yield.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum, one of the heavier elements like silver, is also required by living tissues in only minute quantities and is less than 0.00001% of man. Its presence has been shown to be of importance in the development of healthy teeth.

In molybdenum-deficient soil, "Whip Tail," a growth abnormality, develops in cauliflower. This is curable by applying a pound of sodium molybdate per acre. Where lack of the element was made good, the vitamin C content of vegetation was doubled.

The element is important for animals and man as a constituent (0.03%) of the enzyme xanthine oxidase. This compound is particularly plentiful in the liver and intestines. It catalyzes the final reaction in the formation of uric acid, a waste product of protein metabolism, before its excretion by the kidneys.

As part of the molecule of the enzyme reductase, molybdenum is extremely important also for the fixation of nitrogen in plant nutrition. This catalyzes the reduction of nitrates in the soil to nitrites—a first step in the building up of proteins. So another element long regarded to be of biological insignificance has been seen to have vital functions in the Creation.

Nickel

Nickel is not normally of biological interest except as causing toxicity. There is some evidence, however, that the element could replace cobalt in the treatment of certain cattle diseases. In 1958 Laevastu and Thompson, during their sea water investigations, made the remarkable discovery that plankton contain twice as much nickel as the higher marine plants. This was ten times as much as was found in the fish and mollusks examined. It is not yet known if this element is essential to their life, or if the creatures are—for some reason—accumulators of the element. Certainly its presence in such quantities in plankton, the food of so many kinds of fish, is noteworthy and thus constitutes another wonder of the creation.

Cadmium

Cadmium is generally also regarded as a toxic element, and small amounts of it have been found damaging to the testes. However, it has a biological value in that it is found in the prosthetic groups of certain enzymes, including prolinase I, agrinase and urease.

Mercury

Mercury has not been shown to be a constituent of healthy living tissue. It is also toxic, but its salts are employed as agricultural fungicides. From the fifteenth century its value in the treatment of syphilis has been known. Compounds of the element are used in medicine for skin diseases and other conditions.

Silver

Silver is found in minute quantities in the thyroid gland and in the tonsils, but its function in these organs is unknown at present. The element is used in medicine as the nitrate and in colloidal form in association with proteins, silver ions having a valuable germicidal effect. The metal is used also in certain plant fungicides.

Gold

Gold apparently is not a normal part of living matter. Its value and appearance have from earliest times caused it to be used for remedial purposes but with no valid reason until 1930. Since that date injections have proved beneficial in some cases of rheumatoid arthritis, and recently the radioactive isotope 198 has been employed in this way. The element accumulates in cells and at the sites of the inflammation. Further examples of chrysotherapy include its successful use on certain skin conditions and on burns.

Vanadium

Vanadium is one of the less common elements, but it has been known since 1830. It is now used extensively in steel alloys but was certainly not regarded as being of biological significance. However, it has been found to be an essential constituent of sea squirts. Vanadium chromogen is a pale green pigment in the blood cells (vanadocytes) of these creatures, the Ascidiiae and Perophoridae, in which it appears to have a respiratory function. The evolutionist has an insurmountable problem here to explain the biological change which effects this respiratory function, that is, the change from iron to vanadium in the blood.

In mammals the element has beneficial effects on teeth, and it assists haemopoiesis. It also reduces chloresterol levels, a desirable factor in treating certain diseases, and some cancers are inhibited by it, but its compounds are very poisonous.

The element is found in some species of fungi. In the alga Scendesmus Obligatus, it is beneficial, if not an essential nutriment. It also provides growth and nitrogen fixation in Azobacter by acting as a catalyst, and thus it makes a valuable contribution to fertility.

Incidentally, the element is found in coals, asphalts, bitumens and petroleum, as well as in its specific ores. Soot in Italy and flue dust from smokestacks and boilers of ships burning certain Venezuelan and Mexican oils, containing 12 to 15% vanadium pentoxide, have become valuable commercial sources of the element.

Lithium

Lithium, the alkali metal allied to sodium and the lightest of all metals, is not known yet to be essential in the biosphere. In fact, it has been found to be somewhat toxic in California citrus groves. The plant families Ranunculaceae and Solanaceae act as accumulators of it but apparently do not benefit from its presence. However, the lithium ion can replace sodium in nerve tissue. It has been found that lithium chloride injected or given orally changes the state of brain activity, reducing aggressive behavior. Some manic states and recurring depression have been successfully treated.

Sodium

Sodium, like chlorine with which it is usually combined as sodium chloride or common salt, is essential to animal life. As the ninth element in abundance in the human body at 0.15%, it is hardly a trace element. Plants, however, need it only in minute quantities, especially the algae Anaahaena cylindrica and Atriplex vesicaria. It can help replace potassium in many cases, and root crops such as beets particularly benefit from it, as do celery and asparagus. This also obviously applies to marine vegetation and to the numerous plants that grow well near the coast.

Magnesium

Magnesium is not regarded as a trace element in either animals or plants. It represents about 0.6% of the dry matter of a typical plant and about 0.05% of the human body, or some twelve times the amount of iron present. In the human body half is in bones and half in cells, where it is an essential part of many enzymes, including phosphoglucomatose. However, as an example of the wonderful planning of the Creator, who gave it a vital role in the life cycle, it should be mentioned here in one particular respect. It is the single metallic atom among the 137 forming the molecule of chlorophyll. This molecule with its pyrrole rings has a structure similar to that of haeme in blood, but at 892 it has a much smaller molecular weight. The compound is the green material in plants essential to photosynthesis and thus, with water, food and oxygen, it is essential to their growth, providing nourishment for man and beast. (So in a literal sense, "all flesh is as grass"!—I Peter 1:24.)

Aluminum

Aluminum is always present in soils and is the third element in abundance. It comprises 7% of the Earth's crust, chiefly as a constituent of silicate rocks. It is found in only minute quantities in living matter and was not regarded as relevant to life. However, its use in water cultures showed the element's true value, as it greatly increased the yield of millet and maize. There is also some evidence that it functions as catalysts in mammals.

Other Metals

Ascarian blood, in addition to the remarkable vanadium compound mentioned earlier in this article, also contains unusually large amounts (relatively) of chromium, manganese, molybdenum, niobium, tantalum, titanium and tungsten. These elements are not limited to local deposits but occur generally. Their functions are probably catalytic. Niobium, like vanadium, may be used for low oxygen levels, as they are readily oxidizable metals. Some creatures apparently use selenium and tellurium as electro-acceptors. It has been suggested that gallium and scandium, found in certain plants, act as catalysts in particular enzyme structures. Thus, from these observations, a considerable number of trace elements appear to have been given functions in the Creation—to the confusion of the evolutionist!

Boron

Of the nonmetallic elements, boron has long been known in a number of compounds. Among these, only boric acid or its salts, as antiseptics or preservatives, have had a biological significance. Its concentration in typical plant material is only about three parts per million, but its absence from soil can prove disastrous.

Boron deficiency has been shown to lead to "Brown Rot" in swedes (a kind of turnip used as food for cattle and man in Europe) and to "Heart Rot" in the economically important sugar beet. It also causes stunting and malformation in cauliflower, and rotting in celery, which needs more of the element than most plants. A number of other economically important plants develop rusts and mildews in the absence of sufficient boron. Also many kinds of pollen grains will not develop where the element is lacking.

On the other hand, the application of suitable concentrations of boron compounds has markedly increased the yields of such widely differing crops as apples, coffee, lucerne and mangolds. It is particularly valuable to sugar beets, increasing the yield, and proving necessary for. the translocation of sugars from the leaves. This is probably effected through compounds known as boron chelates, in which the element is united in certain organic molecules. Another valuable property of boron is its beneficial influence in the production of certain vitamins of the B group, namely niacin and thiamin.

Iodine

The Greeks of 2,000 years ago used the ash of sponges (now known to contain iodine) in the successful treatment of goiter. Iodine is found in man, but only as 0.00004% of his weight or four parts in ten million, and thus only a hundredth part of the iron   present.   Yet   a   deficiency   leads   to the disfiguring and disabling goiter found in many races. This disease, also called hyperthyroidism, is due to the failure of the thyroid gland to produce the hormone thyroxine in sufficient quantity. The organ itself contains 0.06%  iodine, which is bound to protein in the cells. Its presence in the gland was discovered by Baumann in 1895, soon after Murray had shown the therapeutic effect of the thyroid extract of animals. Thyroxine was crystallized in 1919 by Kendall  in  the  United  States   and  synthesized  in  Britain  by Harrington and Barger in 1927. This compound has 35 atoms, four of which are of the vital element iodine, designed by the Creator for the healthy functioning of human and mammalian life.

Of the other elements of the halogen group, the function of bromine is yet unknown. Chlorine is present in small quantities in living matter, being 0.15% of the human body; it is not regarded as a trace element. It occurs in organisms in the form of common salt or other chlorides and as an essential constituent of the gastric juice. In tropical conditions there may be an insufficiency of chlorine in diets. As is well known, its deficiency is met by salt licks for sheep and cattle.

Fluorine

The other halogen, fluorine, is the lightest and most reactive of the group. It is only a minute part of the weight of man. Normal bones and teeth yield 20 to 50 mg. of the element per gram of ash, with more in the dentine than in the enamel surface. A low level of fluorine in drinking water is linked with tooth decay, but if the concentration is one or two parts per million, the incidence of dental caries is very much lower. Excess results in debilitating fluorosis with too much calcification and discoloration of the teeth. This is another case of the need for the delicate balance between excess and the amount necessary to health.

Recent research suggests another reason for the element in the diet. It has been shown that mice fed with a low fluorine intake had reduced haemopoiesis during the stress of pregnancy and before weaning. Rats on a high fluorine intake had an enhanced absorption of iron, which would make for a better blood supply. Strangely, tea and sea fish are the only considerable sources of supply of this element apart from the fluorides in drinking water and possibly milk.

Silicon

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, its oxide being estimated to form 55% of the crust as rock and soil. It is found in greatly varying amounts in different plants, being present in the macro-quantity of about 1.2% in maize. While apparently unnecessary to man and not essential to all plant growth, it is valuable in giving mechanical strength to most plants. It is present especially in the connective tissue of mammals and forms a high proportion of the ash of feathers, probably giving them rigidity.

Selenium

Sulphur is an essential constituent of a number of proteins, and at 0.25% is not a trace element, being in greater abundance in human tissue than sodium, chlorine or magnesium. Selenium has a number of properties similar to sulphur, but it is normally regarded as valueless or toxic to living creatures. Its presence in grasses and other plants produces "Alkali Disease" in cattle, characterized by particularly abnormal development of the feet. Yet it appears that vitamin E and selenium are part of certain protein structures. Also selenium, as well as zinc, is essential for the proper functioning of the testes. Injections of either vitamin E (a tocopherol) or selenium prevent "White Muscle Disease" in sheep; 10 mg. of selenium given monthly produced a marked increase in the growth rate of some Aberdeen Angus calves. Rats were also protected from necrotic liver degeneration, and chickens from exudative diathesis by minute quantities (a few micrograms daily) of this mysterious element.

Conclusion

The above observations, if studied in detail in the very numerous source papers, show that a fine balance must be obtained in trace element concentration in order to secure plant and animal health and even to maintain life. There is danger of overdosage, most elements in excess of certain limits of concentration having toxic effects. Manganese, for example, is particularly so to man. Trace elements may also act against each other, and in a few cases one may assist another. It is, however, most exceptional for one to be able to replace another.

Important differences, of course, exist between the requirements of plants and those of animals. Iron is less important to the former but essential to mammals, and the same applies to cobalt. Plants also hardly need iodine or sodium, but mammals require both. On the other hand, boron certainly and silicon probably are necessary for plants, but so far do not appear to be essential to animal life. Also, different plants and different animals have needs of trace elements of different kinds and in different quantities. It should be remembered, too, that elements function in many different ways in both plants and animals. The health (or lack of it) of the plants and animals in a particular area has been found by biogeochemical investigators frequently to be due to the presence or absence of certain trace elements in the soil of that district. So the condition or presence of certain plants can act as an indicator (to the advantage of prospectors!) of the presence of certain trace elements. Thus the infinite wisdom of the Almighty Creator is in part manifested in this marvelous interlocking of the properties and functions of so many elements, in such low concentrations, in His Creation. Well might we exclaim with the psalmist, "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all" (Ps. 104:24).

What of the numerous elements not mentioned above, either as macro- or micro-constituents of organisms? Some writers, without confirmed observations, claim that such elements have an effect in the biosphere. Certainly ions as well as compounds of the trace elements named can catalyze some organic reactions. They influence enzymes by producing a cationic climate of clouds of ions. It is already known that cobalt, copper, iron and manganese form chelated (clawlike) compounds with amino acids. Examples are copper diglycinate and cobalt-cysteine complex. It may well be that ions of other elements produce similar effects, but this has not been confirmed up to the time of the writing of this paper. Among those elements whose definite functions are yet unknown but have particularly interested researchers are arsenic, bromine, chromium, gadolinium, germanium, tin and titanium.

In closing, as we view the importance of these trace elements in the Creator's economy, we may hear in them another sound of the “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12) and concur with Evelyn Underhill in her poem, “Imminence”:
 

“I come in the little things,”

Saith the Lord,

"Not borne on morning wings

Of majesty, but I have set My Feet

Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat

That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod."




 


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