Home > Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)(9)

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)(9)
Author: Michael Crichton

It was outrageous. It was irresponsible. It was criminally negligent. But no action was taken against Biosyn. The Chilean farmers who unwittingly risked their lives were ignorant peasants; the government of Chile had an economic crisis to worry about; and the American authorities had no jurisdiction. So Lewis Dodgson, the geneticist responsible for the test, was still working at Biosyn. Biosyn was still as reckless as ever. And other American companies were hurrying to set up facilities in foreign countries that lacked sophistication about genetic research. Countries that perceived genetic engineering to be like any other high-tech development, and thus welcomed it to their lands, unaware of the dangers posed.

"So that's why we began our investigation of InGen," Morris said. "About three weeks ago."

"And what have you actually found?" Grant said.

"Not much," Morris admitted. "When I go back to San Francisco, we'll probably have to close the investigation. And I think I'm about finished here." He started packing up his briefcase- "By the way, what does 'juvenile hyperspace' mean?"

"That's just a fancy label for my report," Grant said. " 'Hyperspace' is a term for multidimensional space-like three-dimensional tic-tac-toe. I you were to take all the behaviors of an animal, its eating and movement and sleeping, you could plot the animal within the multidimensional space. Some paleontologists refer to the behavior of an animal as occurring in an ecological hyperspace. 'Juvenile hyperspace' would just refer to the behavior of juvenile dinosaurs-if you wanted to be as pretentious as possible."

At the far end of the trailer, the phone rang. Ellie answered it. She said, "He's in a meeting right now. Can he call you back?"

Morris snapped his briefcase shut and stood. "Thanks for your help and the beer," he said.

"No problem," Grant said.

Grant walked with Morris down the trailer to the door at the far end. Morris said, "Did Hammond ever ask for any physical materials from your site? Bones, or eggs, or anything like that?"

"No," Grant said.

"Dr. Sattler mentioned you do some genetic work here. . . ."

"Well, not exactly," Grant said. "When we remove fossils that are broken or for some other reason not suitable for museum preservation, we send the bones out to a lab that grinds them up and tries to extract proteins for us, The proteins are then identified and the report is sent back to us."

"Which lab is that?" Morris asked.

"Medical Biologic Services in Salt Lake."

"How'd you choose them?"

"Competitive bids."

"The lab has nothing to do with InGen?" Morris asked.

"Not that I know," Grant said.

They came to the door of the trailer. Grant opened it, and felt the rush of hot air from outside. Morris paused to put on his sunglasses.

"One last thing," Morris said. "Suppose InGen wasn't really making a museum exhibit. Is there anything else they could have done with the information in the report you gave them?"

Grant laughed. "Sure. They could feed a baby hadrosaur."

Morris laughed, too. "A baby hadrosaur. That'd be something to see. How big were they?"

"About so," Grant said, holding his hands six inches apart. "Squirrelsize."

"And how long before they become full-grown?"

"Three years," Grant said. "Give or take."

Morris held out his band. "Well, thanks again for your help."

"Take it easy driving back," Grant said. He watched for a moment as Morris walked back toward his car, and then closed the trailer door.

Grant said, "What did you think?"

Ellie shrugged. "Na?ve."

"You like the part where John Hammond is the evil arch-villain?" Grant laughed. "John Hammond's about as sinister as Walt Disney. By the way, who called?"

"Oh," Ellie said, "it was a woman named Alice Levin. She works at Columbia Medical Center. You know her?"

Grant shook his head. "No."

"Well, it was something about identifying some remains. She wants you to call her back right away."


Ellie Sattler brushed a strand of blond hair back from her face and turned her attention to the acid baths. She had six in a row, at molar strengths from 5 to 30 percent. She 'had to keep an eye on the stronger solutions, because they would eat through the limestone and begin to erode the bones. And infant-dinosaur bones were so fragile, She marveled that they had been preserved at all, after eighty million years.

She listened idly as Grant said, "Miss Levin? This is Alan Grant. What's this about a . . . You have what? A what?" He began to laugh. "Oh, I doubt that very much, Miss Levin. . . . No, I really don't have time, I'm sorry . . . . Well, I'd take a look at it, but I can pretty much guarantee it's a basilisk lizard. But . . . yes, you can do that. All right. Send it now." Grant hung up, and shook his head. "These people."

Ellie said, "What's it about?"

"Some lizard she's trying to identify," Grant said. "She's going to fax me an X-ray." He walked over to the fax and waited as the transmission came through. "Incidentally, I've got a new find for you. A good one."


Grant nodded. "Found it just before the kid showed up. On South Hill, horizon four. Infant velociraptor: jaw and complete dentition, so there's no question about identity. And the site looks undisturbed. We might even get a full skeleton."

"That's fantastic," Ellie said. "How young?"

"Young," Grant said. "Two, maybe four months at most."

"And it's definitely a velociraptor?"

"Definitely," Grant said. "Maybe our luck has finally turned."

For the last two years at Snakewater, the team had excavated only duckbilled hadrosaurs. They already had evidence for vast herds of these grazing dinosaurs, roaming the Cretaceous plains in groups of ten or twenty thousand, as buffalo would later roam.

But increasingly the question that faced them was: where were the predators?

They expected predators to be rare, of course. Studies of predator/prey populations in the game parks of Africa and India suggested that, roughly speaking, there was one predatory carnivore for every four hundred herbivores. That meant a herd of ten thousand duckbills would support only twenty-five tyrannosaurs. So it was unlikely that they would find the remains of a large predator.

But where were the smaller predators? Snakewater had dozens of nesting sites-in some places, the ground was literally covered with fragments of dinosaur eggshells-and many small dinosaurs ate eggs. Animals like Dromaeosaurus, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, and Coelurus-predators three to six feet tall-must have been found here in abundance.
But they had discovered none so far.

Perhaps this velociraptor skeleton did mean their luck had changed. And an infant! Ellie knew that one of Grant's dreams was to study infant-rearing behavior in carnivorous dinosaurs, as he had already studied the behavior of herbivores. Perhaps this was the first step toward that dream. "You must be pretty excited," Ellie said.

Grant didn't answer.

"I said, you must be excited," Ellie repeated.

"My God," Grant said. He was staring at the fax.

Ellie looked over Grant's shoulder at the X-ray, and breathed out slowly. "You think it's an amassicus?"

"Yes," Grant said. "Or a triassicus. The skeleton is so light."

"But it's no lizard," she said.

"No," Grant said. "This is not a lizard. No three-toed lizard has walked on this planet for two hundred million years."

Ellie's first thought was that she was looking at a hoax-an ingenious, skillful hoax, but a hoax nonetheless. Every biologist knew that the threat of a hoax was omnipresent. The most famous hoax, the Piltdown man, had gone undetected for forty years, and its perpetrator was still unknown. More recently, the distinguished astronomer Fred Hoyle had claimed that a fossil winged dinosaur, Archaeopteryx, on display in the British Museum, was a fraud. (It was later shown to be genuine.)

The essence of a successful hoax was that it presented scientists with what they expected to see. And, to Ellie's eye, the X-ray image of the lizard was exactly correct. The three-toed foot was well balanced, with the medial claw smallest. The bony remnants of the fourth and fifth toes were located up near the metatarsal joint. The tibia was strong, and considerably longer than the femur. At the hip, the acetabulum was complete. The tail showed forty-five vertebrae. It was a Procompsognathus.

"Could this X-ray be faked?"

"I don't know," Grant said. "But it's almost impossible to fake an X-ray. And Procompsognathus is an obscure animal. Even people familiar with dinosaurs have never heard of it."

Ellie read the note. "Specimen acquired on the beach of Cabo Blanco, July 16. . . . Apparently a howler monkey was eating the animal, and this was all that was recovered. Oh . . . and it says the lizard attacked a little girl."

"I doubt that," Grant said. "But perhaps. Procompsognathus was so small and light we assume it must be a scavenger, only feeding off dead creatures. And you can tell the size"-he measured quickly-"it's about twenty centimeters to the hips, which means the full animal would be about a foot tall. About as big as a chicken. Even a child would look pretty fearsome to it. It might bite an infant, but not a child."

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