Chapter7 - The Hunt Begins

"They might sound like elephants, but they sure don't look like them!" said Mimi, staring in astonishment at a herd of twenty or so remarkable looking animals.

Barry was gazing at the leader in fascination, "Whoever heard of an elephant with a mouth like a bulldozer?" The animal's wide, flat trunk protruded out over two very long, very flat teeth which stuck straight out from its lower jaw.

"The ambelodon,"info said the automated guide, "was one of many types of mastodon–an early relative of modern elephants–that roamed throughout North America and many other parts of the world beginning in the Miocene Epoch. For obvious reasons they are nicknamed 'shovel tuskers.'" As they began rooting for food in the soft dirt, it was easy to see why: Their wide, flat teeth worked just like shovels.

The Ambelodon herd

Barry said, "The leader looks nervous."

"I'll bet he smells a sabertooth," Mimi observed. The big shovel-tusker twitched his small ears and shifted nervously from one thick leg to another, as though getting ready to run.

Meanwhile the large cats had spotted an old ambelodon and were edging close to it through the dense grass. They needed to get as near to their prey as possible because their stocky legs were better lor pouncing than for fast, long distance running.

Sharp claws were unsheathed, ready to grab and tear the mastodon's thick hide; muscles clenched like coiled springs; long whiskers quivered and jowls were drawn back in silent snarls, exposing the full length of the long, knife-edged canine teeth. And behind the big cats came the kittens. Almost as carefully. Almost as quietly. Almost, but not quite. One of them tripped, stumbled over a small branch, and let out a startled, high pitched yelp. The ambelodon leader panicked. He let out a frantic bellow that instantly turned the peacefully grazing herd into a confused mass of wildly trumpeting creatures.

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