Letter From The Editor - Issue 55 - February 2017

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Issue 38
Stories
The Sound of Death
by Gareth D. Jones
Underwater Restorations, Part 2
by Jeffrey A Ballard
Rights and Wrongs
by Brian K. Lowe
A Little Trouble Dying
by Edmund R. Schubert
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Extinct Fauna of the High Malafan
    by Alter S. Reiss

Extinct Fauna of the High Malafan
Artwork by Dean Spencer

It started with an eight-inch-long sickle-shaped tooth, badly damaged by treatment and time. This was three years after the Acts of Union, and I was leading a survey of the old border region, something that hadn't been possible during the Auslander wars. We had passed the word around that we were looking for fossils, but we hadn't gotten many; the old border is ghost-ridden, and there are other uses for fossils than paleontology.

Still, there was a constant trickle of finds, some from people with a real interest in the field, and some from people who wanted to show that the old borders had the best of everything, even if it meant giving up a pound or two of fossilized bone.

There were three of us conducting that survey: Renner Bock, a student at the University of Ralport; Dant Corder, a Necromancer of the Grey Orb School; and myself, Orn Hapt. At the time, I was director of the Acquisition Department of the Paleontology Wing of the Republican Museum at Halbston. The department in question was a desk, a telephone, and two old file cabinets, but it was an impressive enough title that it opened a few doors that otherwise would have remained shut.

In Talapathas, a town that was little more than a stock-buying station and a pair of saloons, the pickings were even slimmer than average. We set up at a table in the back of the larger saloon, and spent a day and a half looking at nothing. A pair of natives brought the carved-down remains of a brace-wing's forelimb, and were deeply offended when we didn't want to pay them twice what it was worth. Other than that, there were unrecognizable bone fragments, a chambered swimmer's shell, and some rocks that weren't even close to being fossils.

We were about ready to pack things up when the rancher came in, carrying an old coffee-can, half filled with cotton wadding. He eased the tooth out, and we all perked up. This was something worthwhile, at last.

"Broad toothed coffin-mouth?" asked Renner, who had the worst view.

"Don't think so," I said, passing it over to Corder. "It's coming out, to the side, and I've never seen a coffin-mouth with --"

"This is something new," said Corder. His eyes were closed, and the tooth was resting on his finger-tips. "Not a coffin-mouth. Something much smaller, maybe five feet tall."

"Five feet!" said Renner. Corder was a good enough necromancer that we couldn't argue with what the bone had told him, but it was a little much to choke down. "That tooth's more than half a foot long itself."

"We got a lot of teeth like that," said the rancher, who had been watching us bemusedly. "Bones, also. In the rocks that wash down out of the High Malafan during the spring flooding."

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