A Story of Strange Hunters
and Stranger Game
in the Days of Monsters
Frederick Hankerson Costello [1851-1921]
1909. Chicago. A.C. McClurg & Co.
IN this story I have taken a few liberties with what are generally accepted in the scientific world as facts, and so I suppose some explanations are desirable. The greatest liberty I have taken is with regard to the introduction of human beings into the story when the period is so very remote. The period is that called by geologists the Secondary, and the particular part of it is toward the close of what is termed the Cretaceous. As far as our knowledge goes at the present time, this is a date several hundred thousand years earlier than the coming of man. But I desired to introduce human beings to make the story more interesting, and I felt a greater right to do so because there was nothing in the condition of the earth at that time which would have made it impossible for human beings to live and flourish. In fact, the conditions were more favorable than in some of the inhabited parts of the earth now.
Another bit of license is that relating to the animals and birds. I have introduced a few rather earlier than some authorities would allow, and have detained others on the stage, so to speak, a little longer than perhaps there is scientific authority for. But I believe that this matter is of slight importance, and the more so because specialists are by no means agreed as to the dates, and because all our absolute knowledge is comparatively limited.
Beyond this, I think the story follows the lines of accepted fact and conclusions. Thus Colorado, with its great fresh-water sea; with its strange forests of mingled palms, oaks, beeches, yew-like conifers, and cycads (which were like palms crossed with gigantic ferns) with its hot, steamy days, and its tropic nights, when a moon bigger and brighter than we have ever seen looked down on a world that would have made us gasp by its strangeness these are brought on our stage faithfully and without exaggeration.
And neither are those seeming nightmares, the monsters of the story, exaggerated. I have spoken "by the card" when I have asked to step out before us the lizard as big as a small house, and that could have pulled a man out of the upper branches of a moderately tall tree; that other lizard creature bigger than any elephant, but that looked somewhat like a hideous caricature of a rhinoceros; and yet again, the creature nearly as big as the last, that had a part of its brain substance in its rump, and a spiked tail that could have switched once and dashed a man into a bloody pulp.
Then there are faithful pictures of the smaller creatures the toothed birds, the bat-like lizards which stretched nearly twenty feet across the spread wings, and the turtles as big over as an old-fashioned tavern table.
But I am raising too much of the curtain. I will make one more explanation and then let it fall. In giving names to the monsters and other wild creatures, I have invented in behalf of the human characters such as are simple and would naturally be suggested by the looks or ways of the creatures themselves. It would hardly do to proceed on the line of reasoning of the old lady who said that she did not marvel so much that the remains of ancient creatures had been discovered as that science had found out also their names. However, to be more informing, I have inserted a list of the modern names of the principal creatures.
FREDERICK H. COSTELLO. BANGOR, MAINE, July I, 1909.