IMAGINE YOURSELF A bird, huge, flying out of time through a smoky sky, back, back through millennia. Further than your own memory, deeper than your instinct: about 226 million years. Gondwana floats, massive, around the polar south. Umbilical. The shape of Australia, the place that will one day be your home, is still lost, a speck in the supercontinent, just recognisable from above if you know what you’re looking for. Still, you beat through temperate air; from your high currents you can make out great mountains and gouged valleys, the shapes of trees, small plants – delicate, lacy – and horsetails, mosses. Tree ferns, woody conifers, seed-bearing ginkgos. And there, between swamp and mountain, early dinosaurs – therapods. Young, toothless.
There is nothing here like you, with your twentieth-first-century brain and avian eye. And nor, miraculously, is there anything like a human. Nothing, therefore, human-made or even planned. Nothing imagined. Nothing named. It is elemental.
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