Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. Stanley! Did you ever read the wonderful last chapter of that book about her husband? These are the sort of men that a woman could wor- ship with all her soul. The Lost World Michael Crichton CENTURY Published by Century Books in 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 (c) Michael Crichton
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Download The Lost World free in PDF & EPUB format. Download Arthur Conan Doyle.'s The Lost World for your kindle, tablet, IPAD, PC or. Follow Professor Challenger on his expedition to the Tepuyes plateau in South The Lost World is a good book for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, with a. Thousands of copies of the full-text version of the book and a specially commissioned Adapted for The Lost World Read by Melanie Kelly. ©
But the fact that some species failed was hardly given a second thought. What was there to say about it? However, beginning in the s, two developments began to focus attention on extinction in a new way. The first was the recognition that human beings were now very numerous, and were altering the planet at a very rapid rate-eliminating traditional habitats, clearing the rain forest, polluting air and water, perhaps even changing global climate.
In the process, many animal species were becoming extinct. Some scientists cried out in alarm; others were quietly uneasy. How fragile was the earth's ecosystem? Was the human species engaged in behavior that would eventually lead to its own extinction? No one was sure. Since nobody had ever bothered to study extinction in an organized way, there was little information about rates of extinction in other geological eras.
So scientists began to look closely at extinction in the past, hoping to answer anxieties about the present. The second development concerned new knowledge about the death of the dinosaurs. It had long been known that all dinosaur species had become extinct in a relatively short time at the end of the Cretaceous era, approximately sixty-five million years ago. Exactly how quickly those extinctions occurred was a subject of long-standing debate: some paleontologists believed they had been catastrophically swift, others felt the dinosaurs had died out more gradually, over a period of ten thousand to ten million years - hardly a rapid event.
Then, in , physicist Luis Alvarez and three coworkers discovered high concentrations of the element iridium in rocks from the end of the Cretaceous and the start of the Tertiary - the so-called K-T boundary.
The Cretaceous was shorthanded as "K" to avoid confusion with the Cambrian and other geological periods. Iridium is rare on earth, but abundant in meteors. Alvarez's team argued that the presence of so much iridium in rocks at the K-T boundary suggested that a giant meteorite, many miles in diameter, had collided with the earth at that time.
They theorized that the resulting dust and debris had darkened the skies, inhibited photosynthesis, killed plants and animals, and ended the reign of the dinosaurs. This dramatic theory captured the media and public imagination. It began a controversy which continued for many years.
Where was the crater from this meteor? Various candidates were proposed. There were five major periods of extinction in the past-had meteors caused them all? Was there a twenty-six-millionyear cycle of catastrophe? Was the planet even now awaiting another devastating impact? After more than a decade, these questions remained unanswered.
The debate raged on - until August , when, at a weekly seminar of the Santa Fe Institute, an iconoclastic mathematician named Ian Malcolm announced that none of these questions mattered, and that the debate over a meteoric impact was "a frivolous and irrelevant speculation.
We think that is a remarkable diversity, yet it is nothing compared to what has existed before. We estimate that there have been fifty billion species on this planet since life began.
That means that for every thousand species that ever existed on the planet, only one remains today. Thus And mass killings account for only five percent of that total. The overwhelming majority of species died one at a time. By and large, the average lifespan of a species was four million years. For mammals, it was a million years. Then the species vanished. So the real pattern was one of species rising, flourishing, and dying out in a few million years. On average, one species a day had become extinct throughout the history of life on the earth.
Rain forests aren't an ageless feature of the planet; they're actually rather new. As recently as ten thousand years ago, when there were human hunters on the American continent, an ice pack extended as far down as New York City. Many animals became extinct during that time. That probably explains 90 percent of extinctions. If the seas dry up, or become more salty, then of course ocean plankton will all die. But complex animals like dinosaurs are another matter, because complex animals have insulated themselves - literally and figuratively - against such changes.
Why do complex animals die out? Why don't they adjust? Physically, they seem to have the capacity to survive. There appears to be no reason why they should die. And yet they do. I would suggest that the latest thinking ill chaos theory, or nonlinear dynamics, provides tantalizing hints to how this happens.
It suggests to us that behavior of complex animals can change very rapidly, and not always for the better. It suggests that behavior can cease to be responsive to the environment, and lead to decline and death. It suggests that animals may stop adapting. Is this what happened to the dinosaurs? Is this the true cause of their disappearance? We may never know. But it is no accident that human beings are so interested in dinosaur extinction.
The decline of the dinosaurs allowed mammals - including us - to flourish. And that leads us to wonder whether the disappearance of the dinosaurs is going to be repeated, sooner or later, by us as well. Whether at the deepest level the fault lies not in blind fate-in some fiery meteor from the skies but in our own behavior.
At the moment, we have no answer. Now, standing at the podium, with a shaft of sunlight shining down on him, Ian Malcolm paused dramatically before continuing his lecture.
Malcolm was forty years old, and a familiar figure at the Institute. He had been one of the early pioneers in chaos theory, but his promising career had been disrupted by a severe injury during a trip to Costa Rica; Malcolm had, in fact, been reported dead in several newscasts.
The surgeons have done wonders, as they will be the first to tell you. So now I am back - in my next iteration, you might say.
He was known within the Institute for his unconventional analysis, and his tendency to pessimism. His talk that August, entitled "Life at the Edge of Chaos," was typical of his thinking. In it, Malcolm presented his analysis of chaos theory as it applied to evolution. He could not have wished for a more knowledgeable audience. The Santa Fe Institute had been formed in the mids by a group of scientists interested in the implications of chaos theory. The scientists came from many fields-physics, economics, biology, computer science.
What they had in common was a belief that the complexity of the world concealed an underlying order which had previously eluded science, and which would be revealed by chaos theory, now known as complexity theory. In the words of one, complexity theory was "the science of the twenty-first century. The research was new, and the findings were surprising.
It did not take long before the scientists began to notice that complex systems showed certain common behaviors. They started to think of these behaviors as characteristic of all complex systems.
They realized that these behaviors could not be explained by analyzing the components of the systems. The time-honored scientific approach of reductionism - taking the watch apart to see how it worked - didn't get you anywhere with complex systems, because the interesting behavior seemed to arise from the spontaneous interaction of the components. The behavior wasn't planned or directed; it just happened. Such behavior was therefore called "self-organizing.
One is adaptation. We see it everywhere. Corporations adapt to the marketplace, brain cells adapt to signal traffic, the immune system adapts to infection, animals adapt to their food supply.
We have come to think that the ability to adapt is characteristic of complex systems-and may be one reason why evolution seems to lead toward more complex organisms. Complex systems tend to locate themselves at a place we call 'the edge of chaos. It is a zone of conflict and upheaval, where the old and the new are constantly at War. Finding the balance point must be a delicate matter - if a living system drifts too close, it risks falling over into incoherence and dissolution; but if the system moves too far away from the edge, it becomes rigid, frozen, totalitarian.
Both conditions lead to extinction. Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish. This was familiar thinking to most of the researchers present. Indeed, the concept of the edge of chaos was very nearly dogma at the Santa Fe Institute. We have no way to know if our thinking is correct. The fossil record can tell us that an animal became extinct at a certain time, but not why.
Computer simtulations are of limited value. Nor can we perform experiments on living organisms. Thus, we are obliged to admit that extinction - untestable, unsuited for experiment - may not be a scientific subject at all. And this may explain why the subject has been embroiled in the most intense religious and political controversy. I would remind you that there is no religious debate about Avogadro's number, or Planck's constant, or the functions of the pancreas.
But about extinction, there has been perpetual controversy for two hundred years. And I wonder how it is to be solved if -Yes? What is it? Malcolm frowned, visibly annoyed. The tradition at the Institute was that questions were held until the presentation ended; it was poor form to interrupt a speaker. From the back of the room, a young man in his early thirties stood.
Malcolm recognized him as a paleontologist from Berkeley named Levine, who was spending the Summer at the Institute. Malcolm had never spoken to him, but he knew his reputation: Levine was generally agreed to be the best paleobiologist of his generation, perhaps the best in the world.
But most people at the Institute disliked him, finding him pompous and arrogant. Particularly if your thesis is that behavior is the cause of extinction - because bones don't tell us much about behavior. But I disagree that your behavioral thesis is untestable. In point of fact, it implies an outcome.
Although perhaps you haven't yet thought of it. At the podium, Malcolm frowned. The eminent mathematician was not accustomed to being told he had not thought through his ideas. Levine appeared indifferent to the tension in the room. If their extinction was really the result of their behavior, and not the consequence of a Catastrophe, or a disease, or a change in plant life, or any of the other broad-scale explanations that have been proposed, then it seems to me highly unlikely that they all changed their behavior at the same time, everywhere.
And that in turn means that there may well be some remnants of these animals still alive on the earth. Why couldn't you look for them?
And if you had no more compelling use for your time. What if the dinosaurs did not become extinct? What if they still exist? Somewhere in an isolated spot on the planet. Scientists at the Institute had developed a shorthand for referring to common evolutionary scenarios. These were well-defined ways of thinking about evolution. But they were all "No," Levine said stubbornly.
He turned away from the audience, and walked slowly to the blackboard. Most contemporary definitions of life would include the presence of DNA, but there are two examples which suggest to us that this definition is too narrow. If you consider viruses and so-called prions, it is clear that life may in fact exist without DNA Then, reluctantiv he sat down, and began to make notes. The Lost World Hypothesis The lecture ended, Malcolm hobbled across the open courtyard of the Institute, shortly after noon.
Walking beside him was Sarah Harding, a young field biologist visiting from Africa. Malcolm had known her for several years, since he had been asked to serve as an Outside reader for her doctoral thesis at Berkeley. Crossing the courtyard in the hot summer sun, they made an unlikely pair: Malcolm dressed in black, stooped and ascetic, leaning on his cane; Harding compact and muscular, looking young and energetic in shorts and a tee shirt, her short black hair pushed up on her forehead with sunglasses.
Her field of study was African predators, lions and hyenias. She was scheduled to return to Nairobi the next day. The two had been close since Malcolm's surgery. Harding had been on a sabbatical year in Austin, and had helped nurse Malcolm back to health, after his many operations.
For a while it seemed as if a romance had blossomed, and that Malcolm, a confirmed bachelor, would settle down. Whatever their former relationship had been, they were now just friends. They discussed the questions that had come at the end of his lecture. From Malcolm's point of view, there had been only the predictable objections: that mass extinctions were important; that human beings owed their existence to the Cretaceous extinction, which had wiped out the dinosaurs and allowed the mammals to take over.
As one questioner had pompously phrased it, "The Cretaceous allowed our own sentient awareness to arise on the planet. There's no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told -and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.
But at a time when our behavior may, well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion.
Next question. By the way, what's the story on that guy who interrupted me? He has a worldwide reputation for being a pain in the ass.
There's a series: Becky and Sally and Frances, and several more.
They're Americana dolls. Levine is the heir of the company. So he's a smartass rich kid, Impetuous, does whatever he wants. Wait up! Hurrying across the courtyard toward them was the gangling figure of Richard Levine. Malcolm," Levine said, coming up. Harding and I were just going to lunch," Malcolm said, gesturing to Sarah. You must know there are persistent rumors about animals in Costa Rica, where I believe you have spent time.
And also in the high jungles of Irian Jaya, there is supposedly an animal the size of a rhino, which perhaps is a remnant ceratopsian - " "Fantasy," Malcolm said. Nothing has ever been seen. No photographs. No hard evidence. I believe there may well be a locus of these animals, survivals from a past time.
Remnants, fragments. But I'm told it was some kind of very large, atypical lizard, found dead In the jungle of Costa Rica. What happened to it? No proof? But I believe it is worth mounting an expedition, to find out about these reported survivals. To find a hypothetical Lost World?
Who is going to pay for it? Levine paused, and stared at Malcolm. Malcolm," he said, "I must say I'm very surprised at your attitude. You've just presented a thesis and I am offering you a chance to prove it. I would have thought You'd jump at the opportunity. I heard you were there for almost a year. They couldn't move me out of intensive care for six months.
I Couldn't even get on a plane. But what were you doing there in the first place? Weren't you looking for dinosaurs? Sarah Harding drank Corona from the bottle, and watched the two men opposite her. Levine looked pleased to be with them, as if he had won some victory to be sitting at the table.
Malcolm looked weary, like a parent who has spent too much time with a hyperactive child. But something went wrong, a lot of people were killed, and the dinosaurs were destroyed. And now nobody will talk about it, because of some legal angle. Nondisclosure agreements or something. And the Costa Rican government doesn't want to hurt tourism. So nobody will talk.
That's what I've heard. The rumors keep floating around. Supposedly you, and Alan Grant, and a bunch of other people were there. He said it was absurd. I never met him. It was developed by Geller at Princeton. Basic thesis is that we've lost all the old myths, Orpheus and Eurydice and Perseus and Medusa. So we fill the gap with modern techno-myths. Geller listed a dozen or so. One is that an alien's living at a hangar at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Another is that somebody invented a carburetor that gets a hundred and fifty miles to the gallon, but the automobile companies bought the patent and are sitting on it.
Then there's the story that the Russians trained children in ESP at a secret base in Siberia and these kids can kill people anywhere in the world with their thoughts. The story that the lines in Nazca, Peru, are an alien spaceport. That Nikola Tesla discovers an incredible energy source but his notes are lost.
That in Istanbul there's a tenth-century drawing that shows the earth from space.
That the Stanford Research Institute found a guy whose body glows in the dark. Get the picture? They have to be. Do you think it's possible to genetically engineer a dinosaur?
He glanced at Harding, as if for confirmation. She said nothing, just drank her beer. In fact, Harding knew something more about these dinosaur rumors. Once after surgery, Malcolm had been delirious, mumbling nonsense from the anaesthesia and pain medication. And he had been seemingly fearful, twisting in the bed, repeating the names of several kinds of dinosaurs. Harding had asked the nurse about it; she said he was like that after every operation.
The hospital staff assumed it was a drug-induced fantasy - yet it seemed to Harding that Malcolm was reliving some terrifying actual experience. The feeling was heightened by the slangy, familiar way Malcolm referred to the dinosaurs: he called them "raptors" and "compys" and "trikes.
Later, when he was back home, she had asked him about his delirium. He had just shrugged it off, making a bad joke - "At least I didn't mention other women, did I? His whole attitude was elaborately indifferent, as if it were all unimportant; she had the distinct feeling he was being evasive. But she wasn't inclined to push it; those were the days when she was in love with him, her attitude indulgent. Now he was looking at her in a questioning way, as if to ask if she was going to contradict him.
Harding just raised an eyebrow, and stared back. He must have his reasons. She could wait him out. Levine leaned forward across the table toward Malcolm and said, "So the InGen story is entirely untrue? By now he was getting good at it; his weariness was no longer affected but genuine. In fact, he had been a consultant to International Genetic Technologies of Palo Alto in the summer of , and he had made a trip to Costa Rica for them, which had turned out disastrously.
In the aftermath, everyone involved had moved quickly to quash the story. InGen wanted to limit its liability. The Costa Rican government wanted to preserve its reputation as a tourist paradise. And the individual scientists had been bound by nondisclosure agreements, abetted later by generous grants to continue their silence. In Malcolm's case, two years of medical bills had been paid by the company. Meanwhile, InGen's island facility in Costa Rica had been destroyed.
There were no longer any living creatures on the island. The company had hired the eminent Stanford professor George Baselton, a biologist and essayist whose frequent television appearances had made him a popular authority on scientific subjects. Baselton claimed to have visited the island, and had been tireless in denying rumors that extinct animals had ever existed there. His derisive snort, "Saber-toothed tigers, indeed! As time passed, interest in the story waned.
InGen was long since bankrupt; the principal investors in Europe and Asia had taken their losses. Although the company's physical assets, the buildings and lab equipment, would be sold piecemeal, the core technology that had been developed would, they decided, never be sold.
In short, the InGen chapter was closed. There was nothing more to say.
Malcolm, that makes me feel better. Real dinosaurs. I've got a friend from Yale down there, a field biologist, and he says he's seen them. I believe him.
But if more show up, I'm going down there. And in the interim, I am going to outfit an expedition. I've been giving a lot of thought to how it should be done. I think the special vehicles could be built and ready in a year.
I've already talked to Doc Thorne about it. Then I'll assemble a team, perhaps including Dr.
Harding here, or a similarly accomplished naturalist, and some graduate students To plan an expedition? He stared at Levine. Levine climbed into a bright-red Ferrari, waved cheerfully, and roared off. Harding climbed in beside him. He glanced at her, and turned the key in the ignition. They drove back to the Institute. The following day, she went back to Africa.
During the next eighteen months, she had a rough sense of Levine's progress, since from time to time he called her with some question about field protocols, or vehicle tires, or the best anaesthetic to use on animals in.
Sometimes she got a call from Doc Thorne, who was building the vehicles. He usually sounded harassed. From Malcolm she heard nothing at all, although he sent her a card on her birthday. It arrived a month late. He had scrawled at the bottom, "Have a happy birthday. Be glad you're nowhere near him.
He's driving me crazy. The last of the fishing villages had flashed by beneath them ten minutes ago. Now there was only impenetrable Costa Rican jungle, mangrove swamps, and mile after mile of deserted sand.
Sitting beside the pilot, Marty, Guitierrez stared out the window as the coastline swept past. There weren't even any roads in this area, at least none that Guitierrez could see. Guitierrez was a quiet, bearded American of thirty-six, a field biologist who had lived for the last eight years in Costa Rica.
He clicked the radio mike and said to the pilot, "How much farther? He merely sat, with his hand on his chin, and stared frowning out the window.
Richard Levine wore sun-faded field khakis, and an Australian slouch hat pushed low over his head. A battered pair of binoculars hung around his neck. But despite his rugged appearance, Levine conveyed an air of scholarly absorption.
Behind his wire-frame spectacles, his features were sharp, his expression intense and critical as he looked out the window. Only about fifty miles from the border with Panama. They took one look at the thing, and ran like hell. With his long limbs folded up, his hands tucked under his chin, he looked like a praying mantis. That had been his nickname in graduate school; in part because of his appearance - and in part because of his tendency to bite off the head of anyone who disagreed with him.
Guitierrez said, "Been to Costa Rica before? First time," Levine said. And then he gave an irritable wave of his hand, as 'if he didn't want to be bothered with small talk. Guitierrez smiled. After all these years, Levine had not changed at all. He was still one of the most brilliant and irritating men in science. The two had been fellow graduate Students at Yale, until Levine quit the doctoral program to get his degree in comparative zoology instead.
Levine announced he had no interest in the kind of contemporary field research that so attracted Guitierrez. With characteristic contempt, he had once described Guitierrez's work as "collecting parrot crap from around the world.
And he studied this world with obsessive intensity. He was famous for his photographic memory, his arrogance, his sharp tongue, and the unconcealed pleasure he took in pointing out the errors of colleagues. As a colleague once said, "Levine never forgets a bone - and he never lets you forget it, either.
He was at heart a man of detail, a cataloguer of animal life, and he was happiest poring over museum collections, reassigning species, rearranging display skeletons. He disliked the dust and inconvenience of life in the field. Given his choice, Levine would never leave the Museum. But it was his fate to live in the greatest period of discovery in the history of paleontology. The number of known species of dinosaurs had doubled in the last twenty years, and new species were now being described at the rate of one every seven weeks, Thus Levine's worldwide reputation forced him to continually travel around the World, inspecting new finds, and rendering his expert opinion to researchers who were annoyed to admit that they needed it.
What's there? He found an incomplete skeleton he thought might be a new species of Velociraptor, and wanted me to have a look. It's the truth. As for the skull And the trenchant ungual's hardly present. So there we are. I don't know what Roxton could have been thinking. I suspect he actually has a subspecies of Stenonychosaurus, though I haven't decided for sure. In point of fact, a rather ordinary theropod. And Roxton's find wasn't a particularly interesting example. Although there was one curious detail.
The material included an integtimental artifact - an imprint of the dinosaur's skin. That in itself is not rare. There are perhaps a dozen good skin impressions obtained so far, mostly among the Hadrosauridae. But nothing like this. They were flying over jungle that extended up into the hills for miles, as far as they could see. The helicopter banked, circling the beach. The beach was a clean, curving white crescent, entirely deserted in the afternoon light.
To the south, they saw a single dark mass in the sand. From the air, it looked like a rock, or perhaps a large clump of seaweed. The shape was amorphous, about five feet across. There were lots of footprints around it. You should never have let them near 'it, Marty. I did the best I could. They wanted to destroy it before you even got here.
At least I managed to keep it intact until you arrived. Although I don't know how long they'll wait. He pressed the button on his mike. We're losing light. Get down on the beach now. I want to see this thing firsthand. Even from a distance, he could smell the stench of decay.
And already he was logging his preliminary impressions. The carcass lay half-buried in the sand, surrounded by a thick cloud of flies. The skin was bloated with gas, which made identification difficult. He paused a few yards from the creature, and took out his camera.
Immediately, the pilot of the helicopter came up alongside him, pushing his hand down. No pictures arc allowed. He turned to Guitierrez, who was trotting down the beach toward them. This could be an important - " "No pictures," the pilot said again, and he pulled the camera out of Levine's hand.
Levine watched a moment, then turned away. The hell with this, he thought. They could argue forever. He hurried forward, breathing through his mouth. The odor became much stronger as he approached it.
Although the carcass was large he noticed there were no birds, rats, or other scavengers feeding on it. There were only flies - flies so dense they covered the skin, and obscured the outline of the dead animal. Even so, it was clear that this had been a substantial creature, roughly the size of a cow or horse before the bloat began to enlarge it further. The dry skin had cracked in the sun and was now peeling upward, exposing the layer of runny, yellow subdermal fat beneath.
Oof, it stunk! Levine winced. He forced himself closer, directing all his attention to the animal. Although it was the size of a cow, it was clearly not a mammal. The skin was hairless.
The original skin color appeared to have been green, with a suggestion of darker striations running through it. The epidermal surface was pebbled in polygonal tubercles of varying sizes, the pattern reminiscent of the skin of a lizard. This texture varied in different parts of the animal, the pebbling larger and less distinct on the underbelly. There were prominent skin folds at the neck, shoulder, and hip joints - again, like a lizard. But the carcass was large. Levine estimated the animal had originally weighed about a hundred kilograms, roughly two hundred and twenty pounds, No lizards grew that large anywhere in the world, except the Komodo dragons of Indonesia.
Varanus komodoensis were nine-foot-long monitor lizards, crocodile-size carnivores that ate goats and pigs, and on occasion human beings as well. But there were no monitor lizards anywhere in the New World. Of course, it was conceivable that this was one of the Iguanidae.
Iguanas were found all over South America, and the marine iguanas grew quite large. Even so, this would be a record-size animal. Levine moved slowly around the carcass, toward the front of the animal. No, he thought, it wasn't a lizard. The carcass lay on its side, its left rib cage toward the sky. Nearly half of it was buried; the row of protruberances that marked the dorsal spinous processes of the backbone were just a few inches above the sand.
The long neck was curved, the head hidden beneath the bulk of the body like a duck's head under feathers. Levine saw one forelimb, which seemed small and weak. The distal appendage was buried in sand. He would dig that out and have a look at it, but he wanted to take pictures before he disturbed the specimen in situ. In fact, the more Levine saw of this carcass, the more carefully he thought he should proceed. Because one thing was clear - this was a very rare, and possibly unknown, animal.
Levine felt simultaneously excited and cautious. If this discovery was as significant as he was beginning to think it was, then it was essential that it be properly documented. Up the beach, Guitierrez was still shouting at the pilot, who kept shaking his head stubbornly. These banana-republic bureaucrats, Levine thought. Why shouldn't he take pictures? It couldn't harm anything.
And it was vital to document the changing state of the creature. He heard a thumping, and looked up to see a second helicopter circling the bay, its dark shadow sliding across the sand. This helicopter was ambulance-white, with red lettering on the side.
In the glare of the setting sun, he couldn't read it. He turned back to the carcass, noticing now that the hind leg of the animal was powerfully muscled, very different from the foreleg. It suggested that this creature walked upright, balanced on strong hind legs. Many lizards were known to stand upright, of course, but none so large as this. In point of fact, as Levine looked at the general shape of the carcass, he felt increasingly certain that this was not a lizard.
He worked quickly now, for the light was fading and he had much to do. With every specimen, there were always two major questions to answer, both equally important. First, what was the animal? Second, why had it died? Standing by the thigh, he saw the epidermis was split open, no doubt from the gaseous subcutaneous buildup.
But as Levine looked more closely, he saw that the split was in fact a sharp gash, and that it ran deep through the femorotibialis, exposing red muscle and pale bone beneath. He ignored the stench, and the white maggots that wriggled across the open tissues of the gash, because he realized that "Sorry about all this," Guitierrez said, coming over.
I tried my best. Men in uniforms began getting out. What do you think this animal is? It's extremely large, of course, and obviously not native to Costa Rica.
My guess is this animal came from the Galdpagos, or one of the - " "No, Marty," Levine said. Nobody's quite sure why. Perhaps it's due to the cutting of the rain forest, or some other reason.
But new species are appearing. Several years ago, I began to see unidentified species of - " "Marty.
It's not a damn lizard. Of course it's a lizard. Guitierrez said, "You're probably just thrown off because of its size. The fact is, here in Costa Rica, we occasionally encounter these aberrant forms - " "Marty," Levine said coldly.
He turned back to the carcass. He peered at the back of the thigh. Levine peered steadily at the carcass. They carried tanks on their backs, and were shouting in Spanish.
Guitierrez sighed. But the men kept shouting, and suddenly there was a roaring sound, and Levine looked up to see flamethrowers igniting, big red jets of flame roaring out in the evening light. He ran around the carcass toward the men, shouting, "No! He shouted, "No, this is a priceless - " The first of the uniformed men grabbed Levine, and threw him roughly to the sand.
But even as he said it, he saw it was too late, the first of the flames had reached the carcass, blackening the skin, igniting the pockets of methane with a blue whump! The smoke from the carcass began to rise thickly into the sky. Stop it! Consumed by flames, the torso crackled and the fat sputtered, and then as the skin burned away, the black, flat ribs of the skeleton were revealed, and then the whole torso turned, and suddenly the neck of the animal swung up, surrounded by flames, moving as the skin contracted.
And inside the flames Levine saw a long pointed snout, and rows of sharp predatory teeth, and hollow eye sockets, the whole thing burning like some medieval dragon rising in flames up into the sky. Guitierrez sat beside him at a small table, not saying much. An awkward silence had fallen for the last few minutes. Guitierrez stared at Levine's backpack, on the floor by his feet.
It was specially constructed of dark-green Gore-Tex, with extra pockets on the outside for all the electronic gear.
Looks like a Thorne pack. And a GPS? Boy, what won't they think of next. Pretty slick. Must have cost you a - " "Marty," Levine said, in an exasperated tone. Are you going to tell me, or not? I don't understand why you let it happen. He looked around at the tourists at the other tables and said, "This has to be in confidence, okay?
It's been going on for several years now. It started about five years ago. A number of animals were discovered up in the mountains, near a remote agricultural station that was growing test varieties of soy beans. Guitierrez nodded. The assumption is that they have a great need for the amino acid lysine in their diets. But nobody is really sure. Perhaps they just have a taste for certain crops - " "Marty," Levine said.
The only important question is: where did the animals come from? Levine let that pass, for the moment. And to my knowledge, no others were found for years afterward. But now it seems to be starting again. In the last year, we have found the remains of four more animals, including the one you saw today. Just as you saw. From the beginning, the government's taken every possible step to make sure nobody finds out about it.
A few years back, some North American journalists began reporting there was something wrong on one island, Isla Nublar. They never knew the difference. Stuff like that. I mean, the government's very serious about this. Why should they be worried about - " Guitierrez held up his hand, shifted in his chair, moved closer.
Costa Rica has one of the best health-care systems in the world," Guitierrez said. Of what origin? Nobody knows. It's not a virus, because antibody titres don't go up, and whitecell differentials don't change. It's not bacterial, because nothing has ever been cultered. It's a complete mystery. All the epidemiologists know is that it seems to affect primarily rural farmers: people who are around animals and livestock. And it's a true encephalitis-splitting headaches, mental confusion, fever, delirium.
But even so it's got the government worried. This country is dependent on tourism, Richard. Nobody wants talk of unknown diseases. So it's not unreasonable, there might be a connection. They think it's related.
Surely they must have searched They've gone over every square inch of this country, again and again. They've sent out dozens of search parties - I've led several myself. It lumbered behind the convenience store, passed between two of the cottages, and then disappeared from sight again.
Thorne glanced at Eddie, who jerked his head toward Malcolm. Malcolm had not turned to watch the departing tyrannosaur. He was still staring forward, his body tense. He touched him on the shoulder. He exhaled slowly. His head sagged to his chest. He took a deep breath, and raised his head again. There was a disorderly, chaotic feeling to the scene before him: ill-formed nests; quarreling adults; very few young and juvenille animals; the eggshells crushed; the broken mounds stepped on. Around the mounds, Levine now saw scattered small bones which he presumed where the remains of newborns.
He saw no living infants anywhere in the clearing. There were three juveniles, but these younger animals were forced to fend for themselves, and they already showed many scars on their bodies. The youngsters looked thin, undernourished. Poking around the periphery of the carcass, they were cautious, backing away whenever one of the adults snapped at them. In His Own Words Why are people so interested in dinosaurs?
Why are we so fascinated by these giant vanished creatures from the past? There are many reasons, but the I believe most compelling is that the dinosaurs confront us—directly and unavoidably—with the reality of extinction.
This has always been so. In the late s, when giant animal bones were first dug up in Europe, they caused a crisis among scientists of the time. What could account for these bones? What animals did they represent? At first, scientists argued that the bones were the remnants of gigantic versions of animals now represented in smaller, contemporary forms.
Most scientists thought that this explanation must be true, since God had created the world in the Biblical seven days—and God would never allow any of his creations to become extinct. The natural world at that time was essentially seen as a static, unchanging world. Individual animals might die, but whole species did not. Therefore it followed that these old bones could only represent variants of animals still alive. But with further study, that early view proved unsupportable.
These bones were not gigantic lizards or elephants. And in , Baron Georges Cuvier, the most influential anatomist of his day, reluctantly concluded that the bones represented creatures that had become extinct. His theory, called Catastrophism, was hotly debated—and widely ridiculed—for decades to come.
The systematic study of geology in the nineteenth century led instead to a new doctrine, called Uniformitarianism, which argued that the earth changed gradually, and that extinctions had occurred slowly over time. When Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in , he built upon these ideas of gradual change. In the new Darwinian picture, there was little room for violent catastrophe. Indeed, in the post-Darwinian world, Catastrophism seemed to reflect the emotional turmoil of Cuvier and his pupil Agassiz, men who opposed evolution for religious reasons, and who were obliged to invoke violent upheaval to fit their beliefs to the geological record.
For the next century, Catastrophism languished in the intellectual museum drawer reserved for Curious Outmoded Beliefs. This was still the case when I was a university undergraduate, in the s. In those days, Simpson was an emeritus professor at Harvard, and on warm days he could be seen sitting on the steps of the Agassiz Museum, sunning himself like a wise old lizard.
I never had the nerve to go up and speak to him. Simpson had pioneered the use of statistics in paleontology, and was one of the scientists leading the study of evolution into more rigorous mathematical analysis. So was my own professor, William Howells, who used complex computer programs to study of human evolution, and encouraged his students to do the same.
Even back in the s, there was plenty of debate about evolution. It was understood to be an inherently contentious subject; when Louis Leakey gave a lecture at Harvard in , scholars in the audience leapt angrily to their feet, shouting at him, and stalking red-faced from the auditorium. Feelings ran strong then—and they still do. Many surprising developments in evolution have occurred in the decades since then, but to my mind none more unexpected than the sudden resuscitation of Baron Cuvier and his sleepy old doctrine of Catastrophism.
After two hundred years of ridicule, catastrophe is again a topic of controversy, the subject of magazine articles and television specials. The immediate reason is the speculations of Luis Alvarez and his team on the possiblity that a metoric impact caused the Cretaceous extinctions that killed the dinosaurs. But underneath it all lies a deeper and peculiarly modern question—what makes any species become extinct?