The Lost World Chapter 1

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. But then Harding had gone back to Africa, and Malcolm had gone to Santa Fe. 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."

Malcom's reply was immediate: "What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? 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.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. 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."

Now, walking across the courtyard, Sarah Harding laughed. "They didn't care for that."

I admit it's discouraging," he said. "But it can't be helped." He shook his head. "These are some of the best scientists in the country, and still...no interesting ideas. By the way, what's the story on that guy who interrupted me?"

"Richard Levine?" She laughed. "Irritating, isn't he? He has a worldwide reputation for being a pain in the ass."

Malcolm grunted. "I'd say."

"He's wealthy, is the problem," Harding said, "You know about the Becky dolls?"

"No," Malcolm said, giving her a glance.

"Well, every little girl in America does. 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."

Malcolm nodded. "You have time for lunch?"

"Sure, I would be - "

"Dr. Malcolm! Wait up! Please! Dr. Malcolm!"

Malcom turned. Hurrying across the courtyard toward them was the gangling figure of Richard Levine.

"Ah, shit," Malcolm said.

"Dr. Malcolm," Levine said, coming up. "I was surprised that you didn't take my proposal more seriously."

"How could I?" Malcolm said. "It's absurd."

"Yes, but - "

"Ms. Harding and I were just going to lunch," Malcolm said, gesturing to Sarah.

"Yes, but I think you should reconsider," Levine said, pressing on. "Because I believe my argument is valid - it is entirely possible, even likely, that dinosaurs still exist. You must know there are persistent rumors about animals in Costa Rica, where I believe you have spent time."

"Yes, and in the case of Costa Rica I can tell you - "

"Also in the Congo," Levine said, continuing. "For years there have been reports by pygmies of a large sauropod, perhaps even an apatosaur, in the dense forest around Bokambu. 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. "Pure fantasy. Nothing has ever been seen. No photographs. No hard evidence."

"Perhaps not," Levine said. "But absence of proof is not proof of absence. I believe there may well be a locus of these animals, survivals from a past time."

Malcolm shrugged. "Anything is possible," he said.

"But in point of fact, survival is possible," Levine insisted. "I keep getting calls about new animals in Costa Rica. Remnants, fragments."

Malcolm paused. "Recently?"

"Not for a while."

"Umm," Malcolm said. "I thought so."

"The last call was nine months ago," Levine said. "I was in Siberia looking at that frozen baby mammoth, and I couldn't get back in time. But I'm told it was some kind of very large, atypical lizard, found dead In the jungle of Costa Rica."

"And? What happened to it?"

"The remains were burned."

"So nothing is left?"

"That's right."

"No photographs? No proof?"

"Apparently not."

"So it's just a story," Malcolm said.

"Perhaps. But I believe it is worth mounting an expedition, to find out about these reported survivals."

Malcolm stared at him. "An expedition? To find a hypothetical Lost World? Who is going to pay for it?"

"I am," Levine said. "I have already begun the preliminary planning."

"But that could cost - "

"I don't care what it costs," Levine said. "The fact is, survival is possible, it has occurred in a variety of species from other genera, and it may be that there are survivals from the Cretaceous as well."

"Fantasy," Malcolm said again, shaking his head. Levine paused, and stared at Malcolm. "Dr. 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."

" My jumping days are over," Malcolm said.

"But instead of taking me up on this, you - "

"I'm not interested in dinosaurs," Malcolm said.

"But everyone is interested in dinosaurs."

"Not me." He turned on his cane, and started to walk off.

"By the way," Levine said. "What were you doing in Costa Rica? I heard you were there for almost a year."

"I was lying in a hospital bed. They couldn't move me out of intensive care for six months. I Couldn't even get on a plane."

"Yes," Levine said. "I know you got hurt. But what were you doing there in the first place? Weren't you looking for dinosaurs?"

Malcolm squinted at him in the bright sun, and leaned on his cane. "No," he said. "I wasn't."

They were all three sitting at a small painted table in the corner of the Guadalupe Cafe, on the other side of the river. 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.

"You want to know what I've heard?" Levine said. "I've heard that a couple of years back, a company named InGen genetically engineered some dinosaurs and put them on an island in Costa Rica. 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."

Malcolm stared at him. "And you believe that?"

"Not at first, I didn't," Levine said. "But the thing is, I keep hearing it. The rumors keep floating around. Supposedly you, and Alan Grant, and a bunch of other people were there."

"Did you ask Grant about it?"

"I asked him, last year, at a conference in Peking. He said it was absurd."

Malcolm nodded slowly.

"Is that what you say?" Levine asked, drinking his beer. "I mean, you know Grant, don't you?"

"No. I never met him."

Levine was watching Malcolm closely. "So it's not true?"

Malcolm sighed. "Are you familiar with the concept of a technomyth? 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 the CIA released the AIDS virus to kill homosexuals. 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?"

"You're saying InGen's dinosaurs are a myth," Levine said.

"Of course they are. They have to be. Do you think it's possible to genetically engineer a dinosaur?"

"The experts all tell me It's not."

"And they're right," Malcolm said. 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." And he seemed especially fearful of the raptors.

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?" And then he made some comment about having been a dinosaur nut as a kid, and how illness made you regress. 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?"

"Entirely untrue," Malcolm said, nodding gravely. "Entirely untrue."

Malcolm had been denying the speculation for three years. 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 1989, 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!" was particularly effective.

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.

"So there's no truth to it," Levine said, biting into his green-corn tamale. "To tell you the truth, Dr. Malcolm, that makes me feel better."

"Why?" Malcolm said.

"Because it means that the remnants that keep turning up in Costa Rica must be real. Real dinosaurs. I've got a friend from Yale down there, a field biologist, and he says he's seen them. I believe him."

Malcolm shrugged. "I doubt," he said, "that any more animals will turn up in Costa Rica."

"It's true there haven't been any for almost a year now. 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...."

Malcolm listened, shaking his head.

"You think I'm wasting my time," Levine said. "I do, yes."

"But suppose - just suppose - that animals start to show up again."

"Never happen."

"But suppose they did?" Levine said. "Would you be interested in helping me? To plan an expedition?"

Malcolm finished his meal, and pushed the plate aside. He stared at Levine.

"Yes," he said finally. "If animals started showing up again, I would be interested in helping you."

"Great!" Levine said. "That's all I wanted to know."

Outside, in the bright sunlight on Guadalupe Street, Malcolm walked with Sarah toward Malcolm's battered Ford sedan. Levine climbed into a bright-red Ferrari, waved cheerfully, and roared off.

"You think it will ever happen?" Sarah Harding said. "That these, ah, animals will start showing up again?"

"No," Malcolm said, "I am quite sure they never will."

"You sound hopeful."

He shook his head, and got awkwardly in the car, swinging his bad leg tinder the steering wheel. 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. the wild. 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."

FIRST CONFIGURATION

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"In the conservative region far from the chaotic edge,

individual elements coalesce slowly, showing no clear pattern."

IAN MALCOLM

Aberrant Forms

In the fading afternoon light, the helicopter skimmed low along the coast, following the line where the dense jungle met the beach. 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 had originally come to study toucan speciation in the rain forest, but stayedon as a consultant to the Reserva Biol¨®gica de Carara, the national park in the north. He clicked the radio mike and said to the pilot, "How much farther?"

"Five minutes, Se?ior Guitierrez."

Guitierrez turned and said, "It won't be long now." But the tall man folded up in the back seat of the helicopter didn't answer, or even acknowledge that he had been spoken to. 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.

"What is this place?"

"It's called Rojas."

"So we're far south?"

"Yes. Only about fifty miles from the border with Panama."

Levine stared at the jungle. "I don't see any roads," he said. "How was the thing found?"

"Couple of campers," Guitierrez said. "They came in by boat, landed on the beach."

"When was that?"

Yesterday. They took one look at the thing, and ran like hell."

Levine nodded. 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?"

"No. 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."

The truth was that Levine - brilliant and fastidious - was drawn to the past, to the world that no longer existed. 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."

Field researchers disliked Levine, and he returned the sentiment. 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.

"Where'd you come from?" Gtiitierrez asked him.

"Mongolia," Levine said. "I was at the Flaming Cliffs, in the Gobi Desert, three hours out of Ulan Bator."

"Oh? What's there?"

"John Roxton's got a dig. He found an incomplete skeleton he thought might be a new species of Velociraptor, and wanted me to have a look."

"And?"

Levine shrugged. "Roxton never really did know anatomy, He's an enthusiastic fund-raiser, but if he actually uncovers something, he's incompetent to proceed."

"You told him that?"

"Why not? It's the truth."

"And the skeleton?"

"The skeleton wasn't a raptor at all," Levine said. "Metatarsals all wrong, pubis too ventral, ischium lacking a proper obturator, and the long bones much too light. As for the skull...." He rolled his eyes. "The palatal's too thick, antorbital fenestrae too rostra], distal carida too small - oh, it goes on and on. 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."

"Stenonychosaurus?" Guitierrez said.

"Small Triassic carnivore - two meters from pes to acetabtiltim. 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. Because it was clear to me that this animal's skin had some very unusual characteristics not previously suspected in dinosaurs - "

"Se?ores," the pilot said, interrupting them, "Juan Fern¨˘ndez Bay is ahead."

Levine said, "Circle it first, can we?"

Levine looked out the window, his expression intense again, the conversation forgotten. 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.

"There it is now," Guitierrez said, pointing out the window.

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.

"Who's been here?" Levine said, with a sigh.

"Public Health Service people came out earlier today."

"Did they do anything?" he said. "They touch it, disturb it in any way?

"I can't say," Guitierrez said.

"The Public Health Service," Levine repeated, shaking his head. "What do they know? You should never have let them near 'it, Marty."

"Hey," Guitierrez said. "I don't run this country. 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."

"Then we'd better get started," Levine said. He pressed the button on his mike. "Why are we still circling? We're losing light. Get down on the beach now. I want to see this thing firsthand."

Richard Levine ran across the sand toward the dark shape, his binoculars bouncing on his chest. 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 permitado."

"What?"

"I am sorry, se?or. No pictures arc allowed."

"Why the hell not?" Levine said. He turned to Guitierrez, who was trotting down the beach toward them. "Marty, why no pictures? This could be an important - "

"No pictures," the pilot said again, and he pulled the camera out of Levine's hand.

"Marty, this is crazy."

"Just go ahead and make your examination," Guitierrcz said, and then he began speaking in Spanish to the Pilot, who answered sharply and angrily, waving his hands.

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. "But the pilot just refuses."

The pilot was nervously following Guitierrez, standing beside him, watching carefully.

"Marty," Levine said. "I really need to take pictures here."

"I'm afraid you can't," Guitierrez said, with a shrtig.

"It's important, Marty."

"Sorry. I tried my best."

Farther down the beach, the white helicopter landed, its whine diminishing. Men in uniforms began getting out.

"Marty. What do you think this animal is?"

"Well, I can only guess," Guitierrez said. "From the general dimensions I'd call it a previously unidentified iguana. 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. "It's not an iguana."

"Before you say anything more," Guitierrez said, glancing at the pilot, "I think you ought to know that several previously unknown species of lizard have shown up in this area. 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."

Guitierrez blinked his eyes. "What are you saying? Of course it's a lizard."

"I don't think so," Levine said.

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. "I am never thrown off "

"Well, of course, I didn't mean that - "

"And I am telling you, this is not a lizard," Levine said.

"I'm sorry," Guitierrez said, shaking his head. "But I can't agree."

Back at the white helicopter, the men were huddled together, putting on white surgical masks.

"I'm not asking you to agree," Levine said. He turned back to the carcass. "The diagnosis is settled easily enough, all we need do is excavate the head, or for that matter any of the limbs, for example this thigh here, which I believe - "

He broke off, and leaned closer. He peered at the back of the thigh.

"What is it?" Guiltierrez said.

"Give me your knife."

"Why?" Guitierrez said.

"Just give it to me."

Guitierrez fished out his pocketknife, put the handle in Levine's outstretched hand. Levine peered steadily at the carcass. "I think you will find this interesting."

"What?"

"Right along the posterior dermal line, there is a - "

Suddenly, they heard shouting on the beach, and looked up to see the men from the white helicopter running down the beach toward them. They carried tanks on their backs, and were shouting in Spanish.

"What are they saying?" Levine asked, frowning.

Guitierrez sighed. "They're saying to get back."

"Tell them we're busy," Levine said, and bent over the carcass again.

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! No!"

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