The pseudo Mr Demetre met this challenge like a goldfish popped out of its bowl—his mouth opening and closing but nothing going in or out. Then, to make matters completely clear, Wacka Braun took his copy of Pope held it where all could see it, and tore the book clean in half. In a momentary frenzy, he went on to rip the book to tatters and hurl the remnants at the blackboard.
“Whadda yer think of that, yer weedy little germ.”
“He’s right,” said my uncle, who had not taken his eye from the telescope.
“He can’t be!”
“Yes! One of those animals has the nose of a porpoise, the head of a lizard, and a crocodile’s teeth and that’s what confused us. It’s the most fearful of prehistoric monsters, the ichthyosaurus!”
“What about the other one?”
“The other one is a serpent with the shell like a turtle—the terrible enemy of the other, a plesiosaurus!”
Hans had been right. There were only two monsters churning up the sea, two reptiles in a primitive sea before my eyes. I could see the bloodshot eye of the ichthyosaurus, as big as a man’s head. It must have been at least a hundred feet long. I could tell how big it was when it raised the vertical fins on its tail above the waves. It’s jaws were enormous and contained no less than one hundred and eighty-two teeth.
The plesiosaurus, a serpent with a cylindrical body and short tail, had four oar-like flippers. It’s body was covered by a shell. It’s neck, as flexible as a swan’s, rose thirty feet above the waves.
The two animals attacked each other with indescribable fury. They threw up mountains of water which we could feel on the raft, and time and again we were in danger of capsizing. We could hear vicious hissing noises. The monsters were intertwined, and we could no longer tell them apart.
One hour, two hours passed. The fight went on relentlessly...
... but I can tell you that the ichthyosaurus won. I excitedly told everyone I knew that there were dinosaurs to be found if you were to undertake a Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but no one would believe me.
Professor Otto Lidenbrock, mineralogist of Hamburg discovers and unravels—with a little reluctant help from his nephew Axel—the runic code of a message by 16th Century explorer Arne Saknussemm, who claimed to have travelled to the centre of the earth. Lidenbrock’s own work on crystallography seems to confirm that he told the truth. So off they go by train and boat to Copenhagen and on to Iceland, where the extinct volcano by which Saknussemm entered the underworld is to be found.
Along the way, they get in some climbing practice, to get themselves used to looking down from dizzying heights. In Reykjavik, the professor consults an old colleague to collaborate his results, and acquires a local guide, Hans Bjelke, then on they travel by horse beyond civilisation, eventually climbing to the crater rim of Mt Sneffels. So the long descent begins, by rope into tunnels and through stranger and stranger terrain, having many minor slips and thrills along the way.
The journey downward takes six weeks and several times they are at the brink of despair, but finding traces of Arne Sakussemm propels them onward. And at last they reach the bottom where they discover a vast ocean at the centre of the Earth, which the Professor graciously names after himself—The Libenbrock Sea.
They decide to build a raft to explore the ocean for their objective lies out there somewhere. Prehistoric life still exists at the Earth’s core, and this is where they witness the terrifying fight between the ichthyosaurus and the plesiosaurus.
Ravaged by storms they are cast up on an island, and at last they come to the very centre of the Earth where their compass rotates helplessly, but how are they going to get back? Then a huge flaming rock hurtles out of the sky and crashes near them setting off a chain reaction. The explosion hurtles the raft upward and our adventurers with it, through a volcanic vent, rising on the peak of the forces of an eruption. And they burst out at the surface and are dropped safely in the sea near the volcano. They realise that since they came from the centre, they could be just anywhere in the world. The volcano that saved them turns out to be Stromboli.