|Chapter 58||The Natural Sun|
The Miron goat and the "Ground Flattener"
1. We will mention three more species of animals from the four-footed variety and then move to the two-footed variety.
2. The next four-footed animal to be discussed is the common goat, which is also a native and is kept by the residents as a useful domestic animal. Its size is about tenfold that of your cow, but resembles neither a terrestrial goat nor cow, being unique to this planet. What does it look like? Its midriff is of immense girth, frequently reaching a belly diameter of twenty-four metres, with relatively thin and stilt-like legs. In place of your goat's hooves, its feet are quite similar to your geese and ducks with heavy skin stretched between the toes and blunt claws. Its rear end is two veritable cones each rising about three metres above the spine. Between these two rear cones sits a rather long, trunk-like tail provided with a sizeable brush of hair at the end. The hair is short right up to the spine; but standing richly and sturdily upon the latter are long and stiff bristles, often over two yards long and the thickness of your duck's quills. At the spot where the legs leave the body it has a thick circular bulge of fuzzy wool, with a smaller bulge below the knee. Forward of the front legs a perfectly round neck rises as long as the body itself, covered with short hair, upon which sits a camel-like head but distinguished by three fairly long, sharp horns jutting out of its forehead, the middle one being the longest and sturdiest. From the middle of the female's belly hang four strong teats, which can be milked, yielding the residents a choice and fat milk. So much for this animal's shape.
3. What is so noteworthy about this animal? That it can choose its food from the three elements, namely in the water, on the land and in the air. Some might say: this is not so unusual! That's how all our four-footed animals live, for they too live off water, land and air. Things nonetheless are different here; this goat can enter water and swim like a duck, while consuming marine plants. This in itself would not be extraordinary for there are four-footed animals on Earth that are good swimmers and also love marine vegetation. This animal however can also take to the air and dexterously chase wind-blown leaves and other vegetation to consuming them. For it has to be added, that this planet's atmosphere is full of all kinds of meteoric manifestations, and not a day passes when clouds of strange plants, seeds, strange animals and such-like fill the air for short periods. These meteoric substances hardly ever fall to the ground, drifting along merrily in the air facilitated by a much denser and heavier air than upon Earth.
4. When this animal therefore wants to make a feeding expedition through the air, it properly inflates its belly with its own developed air, directing itself in all directions with its light legs and feeling at home in this meteoric planetary cloud. On eating itself full, it sails back to its place, not omitting to take some supplies with it between its prominent rear shanks.
5. This animal normally is of an exceedingly benign nature, but nonetheless has its adversaries, who nevertheless cannot easily master this animal if it espies them in time. For on seeing them, it at once takes to the air, hastily swimming through it towards its enemies, thrusting its horns towards them with great agility. If the adversaries are of no substantial size, it picks them up with its sturdy toes, carrying them to dizzy heights before dropping them. The adversaries know and remember this, turning on their heels when they see this animal take to the air.
6. But these animals are very attached to humans, never doing them any harm and costing them next to nothing. Hence hundreds are sometimes kept, yielding an abundant income. These animals do not desert a household easily unless a person has killed one of them; then they all leave the household, even if there were hundreds of them to enrich some other household.
7. This certainly noteworthy animal is generally a greenish-red colour, whilst the larger hair bunches are dark-blue, the bristles, tail, rear legs, neck and horns being brilliant white.
8. Another equally interesting animal over there is the so-called "Ground Flattener," roughly resembling your elephant except for its feet and trunk; for its feet look like four cones hung upon the animal with the wide ends downwards and the narrow end stuck into the body. The rest of the body, except for tenfold bulk, is exactly like your elephant including the head, except for the trunk, which is relatively shorter and twice as thick at the end than at the head from which it proceeds as an elongated nose. So much for its appearance.
9. Why is it the "Ground Flattener"? Its name highlights its use; for wherever it has its abode it stamps the ground even, not resting until the area in which it has chosen to make its habitat is stamped completely even.
10. This animal is also tamed and used as a foundation stone layer for their private dwellings. The residents only have to dig a furrow where they want completely even ground. On being taken to this furrowed spot, the animal immediately begins to level the ground, digging up the ground with its two long, straight catcher-teeth and powerful trunk, then like a builder's master, mathematically loosens the site. Once loose, it proceeds to stamp, which produces such even and solid ground that even a spirit level positioned on it would show a more complete fulcrum level, whilst the solidity of ground would take you much work to loosen again with your pickaxes.
11. This animal also feeds on herbs and roots and has, quite exceptionally, almost no adversaries, save a few rare insects. It is pale green in colour. As we have nothing further of note to say about this animal, we shall move to the most useful and also most peculiar domestic animal upon this planet.
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