The year was 1965, the twentieth century, the space age. On a plane over Africa a young man barely out his teens sat looking at a book of prehistoric beasts.
First was the Daeodon, a species of Entelodont, the Hog from Hell. Beasts with three-foot long skulls and a height of five feet and nine inches at the shoulders the Daeodon had limbs that were long and slender with the bones of the foreleg fused together with only two toes on each foot. The neck was lightly constructed with the weight of the head being supported by muscles and tendons attached to the tall spines of the thoracic vertebrae.
The next creature covered in the book was Homo erectus. A prehistoric ape-man that was more man than ape but still not completely man, they had a language and made use of tools and fire.
After the Homo erectus the book covered the Hyaenodon. A creature with a very massive skull but only a small brain, this was a dangerous predator. The skull was long and the snout narrow but with a short neck while the body was long and robust in addition to a tail that was also long. In height an adult would have been ten feet.
The young man turned the page and found a picture of Megatherium, the largest of ground sloths. From head to tail it was twenty feet long with a robust skeleton that had a large pelvic girdle and a broad muscular tail. The beast could stand on its powerful hind legs and uses it tail to balance. It supported its weight on curved claws on its long forelegs and could use those claws to pull down branches. Like the modern tree sloth, Megatherium had a long tongue housed inside its jaw. The Megatherium had a narrow muzzle making it a selective eater.
The next page covered Phorusrhacos. An eight-foot tall flightless bird with enormous skull armed with powerfully hooked-tipped beaks. The structure of both the beak and the claws showed that Phorusrhacos was a carnivore.
And then the young man came to the Smilodon, the saber-toothed cat. It was the size of modern big cats but more robustly built. It had a short tail, broad limbs, relatively short feet and eleven-inch long canine teeth. This was the saber-toothed tiger that children spoke of.
“Looks like something Harryhausen would have in one of his movies.” The young man looked up as a young woman his own age took a seat in the seat next to him. She had a light skin tone, reddish-brown eyes and straight red hair. She was wearing a white blouse, a grey mini skirt and red shoes.
“That would be something.” Said the young man. “I’m Patrick Malone.” He said offering a hand. Patrick had flirted with her back at the airport.
“Julie Chaplin. I’m visiting my hometown of Johannesburg, what about you?”
“I work for a professor at a museum. I’m being sent to get something for him in, coincidentally, Johannesburg.”
“Does he work in paleontology?”
“No, he works in in the Egyptology department.”
A look of confusion formed upon Julie’s face. It was a look of confusion that had been on Patrick’s ruddy face.