When he hatched from his egg, the first thing the baby saw was a huge face looking down at him. Above a long, toothless, beaked jaw, two large eyes stared into his as he struggled free of the egg. Once the baby was out, he could see that the creature had big leathery wings, stretching from its fingers to its knees, and that it had long, slender legs.
"Hello!" it said.
"Who are you?" asked the baby.
"Your mother," the creature replied. "Nice to see you. Let's go flying." And she spread her big leathery wings and took off.
Could I do that? wondered the baby. Only one way to find out. So he spread his very small wings and flew up after his mother.
"Well done!" she cried when he reached her. "It's nice to be nidifugous, isn't it?"
"What does 'nidifugous' mean, Mom?" the baby asked.
"It means to be able to fly as soon as you're hatched. All pterodactyls can."
"What does 'pterodactyl' mean, Mom?"
"Creatures like us," the baby's mother replied. "Pteron means 'wing,' and daktylos means 'finger.' Each of my wings is attached to each of my fourth fingers, see? And so are yours."
"So I'm a whatever-you-said, am I?"
"A pterodactyl. Yes, you are, my son. And a very pulchritudinous one too."
"What does 'pulchritudinous' mean, Mom?"
"Oh," said the baby pterodactyl, and he kicked his little legs happily as he flew high above the rocky land.
"Now," said his mother, "there's the matter of nomenclature."
"What," said the baby, "does 'nomenclature' mean, Mom?"
"Names. You have to have one."
"Gosh, you do know a lot of long words, Mom."
"One has to," said his mother, "in these Jurassic days, if one wants to survive. Who knows, one day pterodactyls might become extinct. And before you ask me what 'extinct' means, I'll tell you. It means gone, finished, kaput, dead and done for."
"But, Mom," the baby said, "I don't want to be extinct."
"Don't worry your head about it," his mother said. "If it should happen, it won't be for millions and millions of years, my son. Now then, what shall we call you? You ask enough questions. How about Nosy? How d'you like that?"
The baby waggled his small but rather long snout.
"I don't mind," he said, "but, Mom, what's your name?"
"Aviatrix," said his mother.
"What does 'Aviatrix' mean, Mom?" asked Nosy.
"A female flier. In the skills of flying, among all pterodactyls, I am paramount."
This time Nosy didn't ask anything. He simply said, "I suppose that means 'the best.'"
"It does, Nosy, my boy," replied Aviatrix. "It most certainly does."
Mother and son flew on, side by side. Nosy flapped along as fast as he could while his mother flew slowly so that he could keep up with her.
"Mom," said Nosy after a while, "where are we going?"
"To see your father," said Aviatrix.
"Oh. What's he called?"
"His name is Clawed. You'll see why when you meet him. Never have there been claws like his."
Before long they left behind the dry stony place where Nosy had hatched among the hot rocks, and came to a wood. Here there were quite a number of pterodactyls, hanging upside down as pterodactyls do, each gripping a branch with its taloned feet. The biggest one, Nosy could see as they dropped lower, had the most enormous claws.
"There he is!" cried Aviatrix. "There's my Clawed! Come on, Nosy, come and meet your daddy!"
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