At one point in the article, Professor Davis cited how their ship (the S.S. Bella Bella ) had visited Fatu Huku in the Marquesas. There, they found an interesting fossil embedded in one of the island's rocks.
"It was remarkably intact," wrote Davis: "And, initially, I thought it might be a new species of prehistoric seahorse. For the head was most certainly equine in shape! But, then, James noted how snake-like the body was. More like that of the modern greater pipefish. So, he thought we might be looking at a mutual ancestor of both Hippocampus and Syngnathus!"
"It was only then I noticed the barbed tail."
"I pointed this out to James; asking him if it reminded him of anything. And he nodded. He said it looked more like the dorsal spine of a scorpionfish than the venomous barb of a stingaree's tail!"
"Alas! We could find no other such fossils on the island. So, we were forced to conclude that this species (which we named Protosyngnathus manticora) was not only extinct. But, that this particular specimen had been the last of its kind when it died!"
"The museum shall have to be content with the chipped-out section of rock bearing the fossil, itself."
Professor Stewart and I then fast-forwarded to the really crucial spot. The one detailing what they found after being driven off course, by a freak storm, while en route to the southern Gilberts in Micronesia.
"It is morning. And we find ourselves offshore of a volcanic island that is evidently uncharted. At least, Captain Pomeroy has never seen it before! And, as we are in need of fresh water and provisions, he is sending the ship's cook ashore with a small hunting and fishing party."
Scott and Davis were among the volunteers for that party. The latter fishing in the lagoon, with two of the crewmen, while the former went inland with everyone else. And, as it turns out, it was Davis who caught the biggest game. A leatherback sea turtle!
He gave a flowery description of how much effort he and the two crewmen had to exert to land that turtle. But what really mattered, to me and Professor Stewart, was the description of what happened aboard the ship, later on, when the cook started preparing turtle soup for the evening mess.
"James and I were astounded to learn that the turtle had still been carrying the half-digested remains of a Cyanea capillata.* And, apparently, a tiger-striped variety, at that!"
"Cookie was naturally quite startled when it came sliding out with the rest of the turtle's innards. Consequently, he grazed himself with one of the nematocystic tentacles! But, he's alright. Dr. Hathaway responded with creditable urgency and applied a poultice to the wound."
The next day, however?
"It's incredible. When Cookie woke up this morning, he found his clothes ill-fit him. They were, at least, one size too big! So, Dr. Hathaway gave him a full physical. And, he found Cookie was not only twenty pounds lighter than the last time he had weighed him. He was also a foot shorter!"
"We are at a loss to explain it, except that it must be a side effect of the jellyfish venom. 'If so,' remarked the doctor, '...we might very well have found a cure for the hyperthyroid disorder called acromegaly.' "
"Towards that end, we have preserved as much of the jellyfish, in formaldehyde, as possible."