Years ago I read a short story about an explorer on a planet with hostile wildlife that was off limits to exploration because of the danger. He had 2 bears as protection and companions as well as a hawk or eagle that he used to get aerial views of the surroundings. I think the inimical native wildlife were called spinx and were a described as a cross between a spitting cobra and a rabid animal. I can't for the life of me remember the author or title.


1 Answer 1


This is Murray Leinster's Hugo-winning novelette "Exploration Team" (first published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1956, available at the Internet Archive), part of his Colonial Survey series. The story has its own Wikipedia page.The protagonist has four bears (including the cub) and an eagle:

Huyghens, as the human population of Loren Two, faced the work-force, fighting-force, and—with Nugget—four-fifths of the terrestrial non-human population of the planet. They were mutated Kodiak bears, descendants of that Kodius Champion for whom the Kodius Company was named. Sitka Pete was a good twenty-two hundred pounds of lumbering, intelligent carnivore. Sourdough Charley would weigh within a hundred pounds of that figure. Faro Nell was eighteen hundred pounds of female charm and ferocity. Then Nugget poked his muzzle around his mother's furry rump to see what was toward, and he was six hundred pounds of ursine infancy. The animals looked at Huyghens expectantly. If he'd had Semper riding on his shoulder they'd have known what was expected of them.

The dangerous native animals are called sphexes:

"Did you ever see a sphex?" asked Huyghens. Then he said, "No, of course not. But if you took a spitting cobra and crossed it with a wild-cat, painted in tan-and-blue and gave it hydrophobia and homicidal mania at once, you might have one sphex. But not the race of sphexes. They can climb trees, by the way. A fence wouldn't stop them."

  • Harry Harrison, of Stainless Steel Rat fame, did a nice riff on this theme in 1968 with "The Man From P.I.G." pornokitsch.com/2009/06/… Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 14:33
  • Baen includes it in the collection "Planets of Adventure", which also includes a couple of previous adventures of surveyor Bordman who appears in the "Exploration Team"
    – user1395
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 6:48
  • Not even a fence?? wow.
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 4:09

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