The tale the scientists told about how the human became trapped in the tar pits was as thrilling as anything you might see on the silver screen, and, with a cast of thousands and a running time a million times longer than the average epic, a whole lot harder to swallow. But swallow is just what those pits did. You see, the scientists had come up with something they called the Entrapment theory to explain how everything came to be where it was; Noah's flood (they didn't call it this, of course) had not only brushed the slate clean, but, with the aid of certain viscous, expired species, preserved a kind of picture of the earth before it had been let loose. Gatherings at watering holes, usually turning ugly, accidentally became permanent tableaux of dubious community, fixed in liquefied dinosaur and absolved by the helping hand of the Lord's wrath. The waves broke over the land, and those too close to the tar pits fell in, buried in bubbles most mephitic. Now, dredging these pits, scientists felt they were looking into the past through the past--it was a miracle (though you would never have heard that word coming from any of their mouths).

They had evidence, they said, that this incredibly preserved--even, somehow, alive--human specimen was over nine thousand years old, a delicious anomaly, an incredible piece of medical providence; he had popped up with a bunch of fossils that corresponded to that age. Infallible as always, seduced by strata, the scientists thus aged him.