Thursday, December 11, 2014


In Dubai, everything's new! Except for a few things. Yesterday at the mall, we were surprised to stumble onto DubaiDino, a long-necked whip-tailed sauropod, 155 million years old. In a dramatic display under the souk dome, Ampicolelias brontodiplodocus holds it's tiny head 80 feet in the air balanced by the huge 25 foot long tail at it's back, slightly curled and looking as dangerous and ominous as it was in real life. Discovered at the Dana Quarry in Wyoming in 2008, it's 90% real; no comparable exhibit exists with as many complete bones. 

I couldn't get a decent photo of the huge creature; this one I lifted from the web site. 

Two dinosaur "experts" are on hand at the exhibit to answer questions. They explained that the dinosaur exhibit was air-freighted from the US to the Souk in The Dubai Mall. I read on-line that the mall developers paid several million dollars for the skeleton. We learned the creature was as heavy as five elephants and was a vegetarian using it's long neck to reach tree tops for food. It gulped down whole branches and leaves without chewing. The head is really small and I find some of the info a bit hard to swallow. Whole branches? Even with an unhinged jaw - how did it work? And what kind of muscular spasms could it muster up to get all that vegetation down to the gut? I'm betting there were days when the Ampicolelias could've used tums and an alka seltzer or two. The exhibit states that the tiny brain didn't require much blood; the heart pumped blood up there once every ten minutes. No wonder they're extinct. 

Just behind the dinosaur is the Level Shoe district of the mall. Thousands, no kidding, thousands of shoes are displayed. Every notable shoe designer you can think of has a store or kiosk. You can read about it here.

Glittery boots rotate on display pads. It boggles the mind to pass from a 155 million year old skeleton display into all the amazingly expensive footwear. The Level district includes a personal consultant who will help you select just the right shoes for an occasion; a concierge who'll help you "seamlessly combine shopping and life style"; a foot care specialist, world reknowned for fancy pedicures using emu oil products; a cobbler who'll repair anything and make custom slippers; and something described as culinary "relief" in the Vogue cafe. Conde Nast has a line of restaurants. Who knew? This one offers breakfast through dinner surrounded by iconic photography from the magazine. If you're into "shoe frenzies" or "shoe fantasies", both terms used in the marketing material, then the Level Shoe district is for you. Did some genius marketing person figure out that the ladies in abaya shuffling by in Adidas are more inclined to buy shoes or have a pedicure after viewing dinosaurs???

The whole shoe thing was beyond us. And apparently beyond others as well. While the dinosaur exhibit was full of people, the dinosaur viewers appeared to be able to restrain themselves from the shoes. We saw one or two women rushing past the stores and a couple of rubber-neckers just like us. No sound of cash registers ringing. It was downright funereal in there. 

Turning back to the Dino, we wondered who the heck owns dinosaur bones dug up in the U.S.  Turns out they belong to the owner of the land where they're found and can be disposed of as the owner wishes. Sort of. It's complicated and most finds are donated to museums or to universities for further study. On line I found a couple of fairly complete dinosaur skeletons for .5 - 1 million dollars. If you've got money and are so inclined, you can find them for sale. The idea of the dinosaur in the mall bothered me at first, but in the final analysis, it's properly preserved and I guess available for scholarly research. At the very least, it's thought provoking and might pique the curiosity of the countless thousands of people who visit the mall but might never visit a natural history museum where you'd expect to find this display. 

1 comment:

  1. Nah, it couldn't have swallowed whole branches. Vegetation from tree tops is more likely. I been how would you like to have a branch stuck in that long esophagus? Uncomfortable as those pair of shoes.