The afternoon sun was warm and Prehistoria seemed almost peaceful. Occasionally the kitten would stir and Mimi soothed him with gentle murmurs, "There, there. You'll be okay. But you really should have a name. Barry, what should we call him?"
"Hmmm. Since the guide said his scientific name is 'Smilodon'...how about calling him Smiley?"
"I don't think he feels much like smiling right now," she answered. "But I like it. What do you think, Smiley?"
For the first time since their adventure had begun the children felt almost relaxed. They looked around with wonder at the prehistoric land surrounding them. Mimi pointed to several long necked creatures eating branches from gingko trees. "A family of camels."
"They look more like giraffes to me. They must be ten feet tall," Barry said.
Mimi grinned. "Maybe they're called giramels." And they both laughed.
They were Miocene relatives of the camel called alticamelus. As the children passed close to the trees, the beasts' sensitive noses caught the unmistakable scent of the baby carnivore. In an instant they were off, deceptively speedy with their long legs and graceful, loping strides. As they watched the creatures bound across the plains, Mimi noticed an altogether different kind of animal taking an interest in them.
"Do you think it's dangerous?" she asked.
"It's just a big bird," Barry said. "it can't hurt us."
"Maybe. But this is the first bird I've seen that's as tall as an elephant. And with a beak like that, I'll bet it eats more than birdseed."
"We're almost at the tower, Sis. We'll be okay as long as it can't fly."
It was a diatryma, a seven foot tall carnivorous bird and one of the most feared predators of the Eocene Epoch, over fifty million years ago. Its wings were so short it couldn't fly; but it had no enemies, so it never needed to. Its legs were so powerful it could kick down a door and race thirty to forty miles an hour; it had terrible, sharp claws and an incredibly strong beak, shaped like a parrot's, that it used to tear meat. Looking at the children and the unconscious baby sabertooth, the diatryma sensed an easy meal. It began to edge nearer.
"We'd better get out of here," Barry cautioned.
Afraid its prey might escape, the flesh eating bird suddenly leaped forward and began running full speed toward them. "Uh oh, I wish we could fly!" Mimi shouted.