At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 27

horrid things. Seal-like creatures
there were with long necks stretching ten and more feet above their
enormous bodies and whose snake heads were split with gaping mouths
bristling with countless fangs. There were huge tortoises too,
paddling about among these other reptiles, which Perry said were
Plesiosaurs of the Lias. I didn't question his veracity--they might
have been most anything.

Dian told me they were tandorazes, or tandors of the sea, and that the
other, and more fearsome reptiles, which occasionally rose from the
deep to do battle with them, were azdyryths, or sea-dyryths--Perry
called them Ichthyosaurs. They resembled a whale with the head of an
alligator.

I had forgotten what little geology I had studied at school--about all
that remained was an impression of horror that the illustrations of
restored prehistoric monsters had made upon me, and a well-defined
belief that any man with a pig's shank and a vivid imagination could
"restore" most any sort of paleolithic monster he saw fit, and take
rank as a first class paleontologist. But when I saw these sleek,
shiny carcasses shimmering in the sunlight as they emerged from the
ocean, shaking their giant heads; when I saw the waters roll from their
sinuous bodies in miniature waterfalls as they glided hither and
thither, now upon the surface, now half submerged; as I saw them meet,
open-mouthed, hissing and snorting, in their titanic and interminable
warring I realized how futile is man's poor, weak imagination by
comparison with Nature's incredible genius.

And Perry! He was absolutely flabbergasted. He said so himself.

"David," he remarked, after we had marched for a long time beside that
awful sea. "David, I used to teach geology, and I thought that I
believed what I taught; but now I see that I did not believe it--that
it is impossible for man to believe such things as these unless he sees
them with his own eyes. We take things for granted, perhaps, because
we are told them over and over again, and have no way of disproving
them--like religions, for example; but we don't believe them, we only
think we do. If you ever get back to the outer world you will find
that the geologists and paleontologists will be the first to set you
down a liar, for they know that no such creatures as they restore ever
existed. It is all right to IMAGINE them as existing in an equally
imaginary epoch--but now? poof!"

At the next halt Hooja the Sly One managed to find enough slack chain
to permit him to worm

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