The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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of the huge creatures that has been lying buried, for any­thing we know, since the days of the Great Pyramid, or even of the first Emperor of China, may be seen floating on the stream. On one occasion a fat, comfortable mammoth, thirteen feet high, with a thick hairy coat, and wide open eyes, was found standing where the earth had given way under him in one of the marshes in north-east Siberia. He had been frozen in the spot where he fell, and had remained there, no one knows how long, till the whole surface of the land had been torn up by the raging waters of the swollen river. The Eussian who discovered the mammoth longed to bring it home ; but the body, when exposed to the warm air, soon began to fall away, and all he could do was to cut off the tusks, and examine his food, of which traces were still existing in the stomach. By these he made out that the mammoth had feasted for the last time on young fir cones and pine needles, and then, well fed and happy, had gone to his death. The same fate very nearly befell his discoverers too ; for, in their excitement, the men did not notice that the ground was giving way under them also, and had not the boat been luckily at hand, the river Indigirka would have carried men as well as mammoth out to sea.1
In searching for remains of fossil animals, we must never forget that the topmost rocks are always, except where they have been heaved up by accident, the newest and latest formed, and, from this fact, it is possible to tell which creatures lived at the same time, and which succeeded the other. Now, ages before there were any mammoths on the earth there existed a monster very like him in appearance, but differing from him in three ways. First, he had no hair on his body; then his teeth were simpler than those of the mammoth, and though, like him, the animal lived on branches and trees of various kinds, he could grind rougher and coarser food. Lastly, instead of
Extinct Monsters.
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