Hi, Mr. Nature here–with Hoplophoneus, a graceful prehistoric predator that looked like a cat, ate like a cat, probably moved like a cat… but according to paleontologists, wasn’t a cat.
I became fascinated by this creature when I was a boy, back when they were still calling it a cat, possibly an ancestor of the famous sabertooth. Details of the skeleton, we are now told, are different enough from a cat’s skeleton as to make it a cat wannabe.
But never mind. It’s still an animal well worth looking at, and I wonder now if it’s going to turn up in Obann. Cross an ocelot with a sabertoothed tiger, and you’d get something very like a Hoplophoneus.
I dream of seeing these animals someday, alive and real, when God restores His creation in all its former glory. But for now, the closest I can come is to put them in my books and let ’em rip.
Having just plowed my way through another Newswithviews column, I felt an urge to celebrate.
The prehistoric mammals in this video–you may want to turn down the appalling background music; I don’t know what they were thinking–are the work of Tim Haines, most of them appearing in his wonderful Walking With Beasts.
And most of them have turned up in my Bell Mountain books, too! If you’ve read the books, have a little fun by seeing how many of these critters you can remember from the books.
And I’m off for a bike ride!
It isn’t every day you get to see video of a Baluchitherium, so enjoy it now.
The Thunder King, Book No. 3 of my Bell Mountain series, was born of a dream I had, in which a Baluchitherium–the largest land mammal ever–figured dramatically. With a little extra shaping, that dream became the climax of the book.
Just imagine it… Just imagine!
I’m getting antsy for Obann, and I want to flush the day’s nooze out of my brain… so let’s join Mr. Nature on a prehistoric safari.
Hi, Mr. Nature here–and the video is in Hindi, so I have no idea what the narrator is saying; but I know a Deinotherium when I see one. Well, okay, there are no more Deinotheriums, only pictures and video recreations.
These are related to the elephants we know and love today, and lived in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some of them were considerably bigger than modern elephants. Plus it looks like their tusks are on backwards. Deinotherium’s tusks were attached to the lower jaw instead of coming out of the upper, like an elephant’s.
We do not know how this animal used its tusks. Scraping bark off trees? Maybe. They look so much like elephants that the two must have had a lot in common. Except for those tusks. The more you look at them, the more puzzling it gets. What good did their tusks do them, down there?
But God the Designer doesn’t make mistakes, and doesn’t create living things that don’t work. However those tusks functioned, we can be sure they served the animal well.
Mr. Nature here–with a prehistoric animal that lasted into historic times: the pygmy mammoth of Wrangel Island. It was still alive when the Egyptians were building the pyramids.
In all respects except size it was a regular woolly mammoth. Wrangel Island is in the Arctic Ocean, just off Siberia. Today it’s frozen. But a few thousand years ago, mammoths lived there. The ground today is littered with tusks and bones.
Islands are funny. Some animals that are small on the mainland grow very large if they’re on an island for many generations. And some that are large on the mainland grow small if they’re confined to an island. Hence the pygmy elephants and hippos, and giant dormice, of various Mediterranean islands.
Think of a mammoth the size of a pony. And marvel at the work of God’s hands.
I didn’t mean to hit you with a prehistoric critter today, but this video caught my eye and I just can’t help sharing it with you.
Andrewsarchus, from Mongolia, is kind of hard to study because there’s only its yard-long skull that’s been preserved–and only one of those. But if you’ve ever stood in front of that skull, on display at the American Museum of Natural History, as I have, you will stand in awe. I mean, this beast had jaw-muscles as thick as a strong man’s upper arms. It could probably eat your car. In fact, that’s what I think it did eat–cars. With the people still in them.
God’s creative energy–there’s just no reining it in!
This animal is so rare, neither Lintum Foresters nor Abnak hunters have as yet found a name for it. Jack and Ellayne, in Bell Mountain, saw one making off with half a knuckle-bear in its jaws.
The Andrewsarchus, shown here from Tim Haines’ Walking With Beasts, is known from just a single skull discovered in Mongolia by Roy Chapman Andrews’ Central Asiatic Expedition. From the neck down, everything else is pure conjecture. Not having read Bell Mountain, scientists still haven’t decided quite how to reconstruct this monster. If you ever get a chance to visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York, don’t miss the Andrewsarchus skull. It’s a yard long, and those massive teeth and muscle attachments look like they mean business.
Ice Age hyenas with their kill, a wild boar: the mammoth and horses in the background are lucky the boar came along when it did.
With two deaths in the family coming virtually back-to-back, I haven’t been quite at my best lately. Not good: because I have a book to write, and the weather has held me back considerably. I’ve written a couple of chapters of His Mercy Endureth Forever, but as of this morning, I still didn’t know where it was going. Note I said “didn’t,” not “don’t.” Because now I think I know.
So I sat outside with my cigar and asked the Lord to give me the story He wants me to tell: and He has. Like, right away. All I had to do was ask.
Now I know why He gave me that title, and why He gave me Ice Age extra-large and ferocious cave hyenas, without an Ice Age to go with them. Now I can proceed.
Thank you, Father. It’s a weird way to write, but so far it’s carried me through ten Bell Mountain books, plus two awards.
It’s been raining every day this week, which has really slowed the writing of my new book. But at least I was able to make one artistic decision about it.
I’m going with the oversized prehistoric cave hyenas. I can’t provide them with an Ice Age, but to make up for that, I’ve provided them with dangerous savages who worship them as holy.
Today’s spotted hyenas of Africa are pretty nasty, but these put them to shame. Hey, they ate mammoths and rhinoceroses.
Now if only this rain would stop, I could get down to business.
P.S.–I’m calling it His Mercy Endureth Forever. My wife and my editor like that title, so there it is.