Showing posts with label Dinosaurs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinosaurs. Show all posts

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Balloon Sculptures, Singing, and a Pelvic Thrusting Dinosaur: The Grand Opening of a Jewelry Store in Ganzhou, China

When I stopped by a jewelry store with a notable logo on the afternoon of its opening day in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, there were a few customers inside, but all was otherwise quiet. Especially given the hot weather and low pedestrian traffic at the time, this wasn't so surprising.

When I stopped by again later in the early evening, the weather had cooled down and the activities to celebrate the grand opening had heated up. Given what I have seen at a variety of promotions elsewhere in China, I wasn't too surprised to see somebody wearing an inflatable Tyrannosaurus costume entertaining people, especially children.

person in inflatable Tyrannosaurus costume entertaining

At an entrance to the store, somebody else was creating balloon animals and sculptures. I have seen the same thing at a number of jewelry stores elsewhere.

Balloon artist making a balloon model for a girl

There was also a stage set up besides the store. While I was there a woman sang, also not so uncommon for events likes this one.

But then things came together in a way that wasn't so typical in my experience, and it was something to behold.

I didn't know a Tyrannosaurus could move like that.

On reflection, the movements were somewhat similar to how some cockatoos dance to music. Not only are birds dinosaurs, but the Tyrannosaurus is more closely related to a bird than to a Stegosaurus. Perhaps that's what the person had in mind, though I am not aware of any birds dancing quite the same way.

In any case, the dancing felt a bit surreal to watch. I can't put the experience fully into words, so I have shared a bit of it in the video below. Although the Tyrannosaurus stopped dancing, or whatever it was doing, and returned to other activities while I watched, I kept filming a bit longer. There is more to observe than just the dinosaur, though it steals the show.

Take a look:

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Dinosaur Dining on Bus Passengers in Hong Kong

The "Meet The T. Rex" tram wasn't the only example of dinosaur-themed vehicular advertising I recently saw in Hong Kong. In the other case, the vehicle was a double-decker bus instead of a double-decker tram.

Jurassic World movie ad on a Hong Kong bus

Similar to the trams, Hong Kong's double-decker buses are commonly covered with a single advertisement. In the above advertisement for the movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the special setting offered the opportunity to make it look like some of the passengers are about to become a snack. Most Hong Kong buses are safer than this.

For those wondering how I photographed the bus from this angle, I must admit it required a quick reaction, especially since I was heading the opposite direction. And of course I was sitting on the second level of a tram. Unfortunately (fortunately?), it had no dinosaurs on it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A "Meet The T. Rex" Tram in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's population is greater than 7.4 million people. According to a careful examination of my web traffic statistics, most of them didn't read my post about the Tyrannosaurus rex currently on display at the IFC mall. So fortunately there are other ways for Hongkongers to discover they have an rare opportunity to see a South Dakotan dinosaur for free. The other day while I was across the street from an historic building in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, a tram rolled by with a "Meet the T. Rex" advertisement.

Hong Kong tram with a "Meet The T. Rex" ad going by The Pawn in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

I have long been intrigued by some of the implications of advertising on trams and previously shared many examples in 2011 and in 2012. None of those included dinosaurs though.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A South Dakotan Dinosaur at the IFC Mall in Hong Kong

While you can now hear occasional loud roars at a mall in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, showing live World Cup football matches late into the night, you probably won't hear any roars at the IFC Mall in Central, Hong Kong. Given what is currently on display there, that is probably a good thing.

compllete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on display at the IFC in Hong Kong

According to a sign, the complete adult Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is 12 meters long and was found in South Dakota, U.S.A. The IFC Mall's website indicates the skeleton is 30% fossil bone and 70% polyurethanes fossil cast (see the blog Dinosaurpalaeo for some motivations for using either fossil bones or casts).

If the dinosaur were to somehow magically turn into its former living self, according to recent research there is at least one thing people no longer need to worry about. The Tyrannosaurus rex wouldn't be sticking out its tongue at people:
Dinosaurs couldn't stick out their tongues like lizards. Instead, their tongues were probably rooted to the bottoms of their mouths in a manner akin to alligators.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences made the discovery by comparing the hyoid bones—the bones that support and ground the tongue—of modern birds and crocodiles with those of their extinct dinosaur relatives. In addition to challenging depictions of dino tongues, the research proposes a connection on the origin of flight and an increase in tongue diversity and mobility.
To catch the T. Rex at the IFC Mall (and to imagine it catching you despite its tongue limitations) visit the mall no later than June 27. It is a rare opportunity to see a Hong Kong mall featuring something from South Dakota.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns Surround a Dinosaur in Macau

Hello Kitty mooncakes aren't the only example of the Mid-Autumn Festival mixing with other themes in Macau.

Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns and a large dinosaur on display in front of the Macau Science Center

These holiday lanterns and dinosaur currently stand in front of the Macau Science Center, which has a temporary "Living Dinosaurs" exhibition. Similar lanterns are on display elsewhere in Macau, but I haven't seen others with a dinosaur. Maybe I will get to see a dinosaur lantern somewhere else soon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Dinosaur in China and a Chicken from Hell in the U.S.

Across the Jianjiang River (鉴江) from the Baoguang Tower (宝光塔) in Gaozhou (高州), Guangdong province, a dinosaur spotted me last Monday.

Chicken, Jianjiang River, and Baoguang Tower in Gaozhou

The dinosaur was clearly indignant at having been tethered.

Chicken, Jianjiang River, and Baoguang Tower in Gaozhou

Despite it still being able to move around to some degree, it displayed much pluck by holding its ground when I came nearer.

Chicken and Jianjiang River in Gaozhou

Regarding any questions about labeling this fine animal as a dinosaur, I will share an informative comic from xkcd:

Birds and Dinosaurs

On that note, perhaps the formidable attitude of the dinosaur, more commonly called a chicken, I met was passed down for generations from the "chicken from hell", more formally known as the Anzu wyliei:

Anzu wyliei, the "chicken from hell"
Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Details about the Anzu wyliei, "a 600-pound cross between an ostrich and a velociraptor", were recently published, Christopher Joyce for NPR explained the "chicken from hell" nickname:
For the past decade, dinosaur scientists have been puzzling over a set of fossil bones they variously describe as weird and bizarre. Now they've figured out what animal they belonged to: a bird-like creature they're calling "the chicken from hell."

There are two reasons for the name.

First: If you took a chicken, crossed it with an ostrich, bulked it up to 500 pounds, stretched it out to roughly 11 feet, put a bony crest on its head (like some ancient Greek helmet), added a dinosaur tail and a pair of forelimbs with five-inch claws, and then, finally, stuck some feathers on it ... you would have what paleontologist Matt Lamanna formally calls Anzu wyliei ...

Reason two for the nickname: The three new specimens Lamanna has now put together were dug up from the Hell Creek geological formation in Montana and the Dakotas.

Although the research did not address what it tasted like, Christine Dell'Amore for National Geographic explained how researchers deduced what the Anzu itself ate:
Physical features on the North American skeletons indicate Anzu dined on a variety of items from the Cretaceous smorgasbord, including vegetation, small animals, and possibly eggs.

Small prongs of bone found on the skulls' palates may have helped the dinosaurs swallow eggs; the same prongs are found today in egg-eating snakes.

The dinosaur also had big hands with large, curved claws, which are usually found on animals that grab small prey to shove down their throats.

And the Anzu's jaw shape suggested it could shear pieces off plants.
Fortunately, the dinosaur in Gaozhou did not possess large curved claws and did not eat me.

As far as its own fate, after noticing a change in its demeanor, I realized it was no longer tethered by the string. I'm not sure how this came about, and I decided it was best to avoid interfering with a proud relative of the Anzu. As I departed, it also walked away. I don't know where it went but ...

... there was a road nearby.

untethered chicken walking in Gaozhou

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dinosaurs in Hong Kong

If you walk down Chatham Road South in Hong Kong, you may wonder if there has been a dinosaur invasion.

large dinosaur outside the Hong Kong Science Museum
Fortunately, we all know such things are more likely in Japan.

Instead, what you're seeing is part of the Hong Kong Science Museum's current exhibition Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs. With 500,000 visitors in just three months, there can be long lines to see it, especially on weekends. I was able to go on a weekday, though, and happily entered without needing to stand in line.

On another day the line extended far away from here.

Once inside, you can watch a brief introductory video.

movie of ancient landscape with text "160 million years ago in China..."
First they told me I only needed to understand 5,000 years of Chinese history...

Then, before you know it you're gaining first hand experience with dinosaur excrement.

"Pile of Poo" with sign saying "Touch 3 weeks worth of Europlocephalus poo.
There's a lot more than what's in this photo.

Europlocephalus with poo underneath it
In case you didn't make the connection

And in the same spirit, how can one refuse the opportunity to make a Triceratops fart?

Kid pressing a button at the Farting Triceratops display
Although I love immersive learning, I'm glad they didn't try to replicate the smell.

If you're looking for something more intense, perhaps an interactive Tyrannosaurus rex will do the trick. [spoiler alert: a "secret" about this exhibit is revealed below]

Tyrannosaurus rex
Yes, something is looking at you.

A nearby sign explaining image recognition technology asks:
Is this Tyrannosaurus watching you with the 'image recognition' system'? Reveal the secret at the Tyrannosaurus Command Centre.
When I approached the T. rex and looked it in the eye, it let out a loud snort. I'll admit I was slightly startled. It is a T. rex after all. Curious to learn about its apparently effective image recognition system, I headed to the Command Centre where I learned I should have paid more heed to the quotation marks in the sign.

boy at the Tyrannosaurus Command Centre playing with controls and looking at live video of the area around the Tyrannosaurus
The kid who "attacked" me had already fled the scene.

To top it all off, what could be better to teach your kids than how to anger a Velociraptor?

Sign reading "Let's play with Velociraptor" next to a boy poking an animatronic velociraptor with a stick.
The Velociraptor's mane reminded me of something. It took me a few minutes, but I think I figured it out.

In addition to these and other interactive exhibits, there is also an excellent collection of dinosaur fossils, many of which were unearthed in China.

Juvenile Protoceratops
Juvenile Protoceratops

Jintasaurus meniscus with a Suzhousaurus megatherioides, Beishanlong grandis, and Lanzhousaurus magnidens in the background
Jintasaurus meniscus with Suzhousaurus megatherioides, Beishanlong grandis, and Lanzhousaurus magnidens

Xiongguanlong baimoensis with a Jintasaurus meniscus and very large Daxiatitan binglingi in the background
Xiongguanlong baimoensis with Jintasaurus meniscus and a very large Daxiatitan binglingi

The well-designed mix of fossils and interactive exhibits can keep both kids and adults amused. Like the Zigong Dinosaur Museum I visited two years ago, I enthusiastically recommend a visit if you're in the area. Just make sure to catch it before Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs becomes extinct in early April.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Existential Threat Posed to U.S. by Chinese Tiger Mothers' Continued Relentless Training of Children

Last year Amy Chua wrote an article claiming Chinese applied superior "Tiger Mother" child-raising skills which in part succeeded by subjecting children to a variety of intense pressures while leaving them little time for the fun that is part of many American childhoods. From China, I was able to share a critical investigative report that further verified Chua's claims and opened the eyes of many to the deeper ramifications. As I wrote in a guest blog post for James Fallows on The Atlantic:
... today I saw the practices described by Chua apparently being applied by Chinese parents in Yulin, Guangxi. What I witnessed seemed to indicate something far more alarming than I could have ever imagined and may have been foreshadowed by Amy Chua when she wrote that her methods once caused her house to become "a war zone."

At potential risk to myself, I collected photographic evidence suggesting that in addition to possibly not being permitted opportunities for fun activities such as play dates or computer games, Chinese children are being trained for nothing less than what some people in the US seem to think is right around the corner--a Chinese attack on the United States of America.
For the evidence I shared see: "Will Amy Chua's 'Tiger Mother' Methods Create a New World Order?".

Since that time, I fear many Americans have once again become complacent. However, my investigations have continued. Fortunately with only minimal harm caused to myself, I recently completed observations in Zhuhai, Guangdong that I will share below. Hopefully, this irrefutable evidence will prompt immediate and lasting action. Please be warned, the following images show training exercises for a potentially gruesome and fierce war. They may not be suitable for all viewers and could cause severe anxiety.

Of course, Chinese mothers wisely understand that any invasion will require overpowering attacks from the sky:

Woman and child on jet amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
Relentless training in jets

Child on a helicopter amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
Observe her glee as she imagines shooting down helpless victims on American soil.

Two children on parachute amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
So well trained, they can mock me while parachuting.

Attacks on both of America's coasts are also inevitable:

Boy on water shooting amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
Even America's defenses of bears, sharks, and walking fish will be no match.

Bumper boats and a pirate ship amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
Pirate ship or amphibious vehicles -- choose your poison.

Parked boats with fake guns at a park in Zhuhai, China
Gun boats refueling while more artillery is delivered.

After the initial air and sea attacks the final ground invasion will be crushing:

Child on kiddy-car amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
As he drove by he screamed "NO MERCY!" at me in the local Cantonese dialect.

Girl on railed amusement park ride with fake guns in Zhuhai, China
Training to take over U.S. rail lines regardless of any dinosaur defenses
(fortunately, those are practice laser guns and only caused me minor flesh wounds)

Three children climbing an inflatable climbing pylon at an amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
No wall will be a barrier.

Even the trainers could only laugh at my helplessness as I tried to comprehend what I was observing:

Young worker standing in front of a helicopter amusement park ride in Zhuhai, China
She dreamed of visiting the U.S. someday -- presumably to lay claim to a small city.

After leaving the training grounds, I walked around in a daze feeling heartbroken that the children were subjected to such soul-crushing training. But even as I tried to find some solace and make sense of it all, no kid would let me forget what I could soon expect:

Young child in a stroller holding an orange and play gun in Zhuhai, China

I can only hope it is not too late.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mega Kiddie Play Area and Mall in Changchun

In an earlier post, I commented on a ramp at an historic site in Guiyang, Guizhou that was being used in a manner its designers had not likely intended -- as a kiddie slide.

In Changchun, Jilin I saw something else that prompted kids to play.  However, in this case the designers clearly had kids in mind:

This rather incredible play area is in a very large mall in central Changchun.  It was particularly striking to me since I'd never seen a play area on this scale before.  A Shanghainese friend told me that they recall seeing even bigger play areas in Shanghai as a child but they now seem to be fewer in number (I haven't seen anything like this in Shanghai myself).  I have to admit I was a bit jealous nothing like this was available when & where I grew up as a kid.

Is this one of those things that's easy to be impressed by only to discover it's unsafe or built improperly?  I saw nothing obviously amiss but I really don't know.  If I had kids, I probably would have caved in if they wanted to play in it.  All I know for sure is that it's been open for at least well over a year (based on my two visits to Changchun).

It is but one of the attractions in the mall.  For example, there is also an indoor amusement park on the 4th floor.  It includes a number of rides such as the ubiquitous swinging pirate ship and also some dinosaur scenes such as this one:

Fortunately not real

Similar (but smaller) to what can be found at The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian hotels in either Las Vegas or Macau, China there is also a fake Venetian-style shopping corridor with its very own canal:

As you can see in the photos, there weren't a lot of people at the mall (at least relative to its size).  I've seen it far busier on other days, though, and there is a lot of space for people to be.

The mall is not representative of the typical shopping experience in the Changchun area, but it represents the "big" side of China that can be found in a variety of places.  As China's economy grows, malls like this may become more common in places such as Changchun, an area with over 7 million people.

At least that's probably what some kids are hoping for.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pandas in Sichuan

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province in China.  Their web site here provides a bit of information and has some exciting announcements, including that they are looking for a Chengdu Pambassador.  I'm not sure if you get diplomatic immunity with that.

The pandas seem to have a pretty good environment to do what they do best, which from what I saw is lazing around and eating.  There were numerous locations in a very lush environment to observe the pandas.

In one part of the base there is an educational video to watch on panda reproduction.  It could leave one wondering if pandas just aren't too concerned about continuing the species anymore.  While I'm certainly no panda expert, I wasn't surprised that breeding pandas has been so challenging when the videos show attempted matings occurring is dismal bare rooms with numerous humans looking on.  Even dinosaurs know you need a little romance.

Some additional facts about giant pandas:
  • English naturalist Chris Packham thinks efforts to save the giant panda are too expensive and the funds should be used to save other animals.  In a particularly colorful moment he said, "I'd eat the last panda if I could have the money we've spent on panda conservation back on the table for me to do more sensible things with."
  • Adult pandas prefer to spend their time alone.
  • Due to their low nutrition diet, pandas need to eat a lot and may defecate up to 40 times in a day.
  • Some tribal people in Sichuan didn't believe the panda had many medicinal purposes but they did use to use panda urine to melt swallowed needles.  The referenced book doesn't offer an explanation as to why swallowed needles were such a problem.
  • "despite there being a number of depictions of bears in Chinese art starting from its most ancient times, and the bamboo being one of the favorite subjects for Chinese painters, there are no known pre-20th-century artistic representations of giant pandas."
  • The common Chinese term for pandas, 熊猫 (xióng māo), literally translates as "bear cat".  This may be because while other bear species have round pupils, the panda's pupils have vertical slits like a cat.
I know some readers have been long awaiting some gratuitous panda photos from China.  I hope the following appeases you:

Open wide

The panda flute essemble

Making a fan?

Panda trio

Young panda cuddling with Mom

Pandas sharing their thoughts on the best bamboo vintages

"I saw a pile of bamboo this big!"

The very distantly related red pandas like to eat too

Another red panda checking things out

Making use of the swing

On the way up

Made it

The older pandas are often kept solitary.  No matter, that's how they like it and the bamboo tastes just as good.

The pandas don't seem to give much notice to the strange humans.  Though they've been known to attack humans in the wild "out of irritation".

A panda shocked to see its mating rituals are being observed.  Actually, it's a less than grand diorama in the museum.

A section of another diorama in the museum.  This one is about the panda's long history.
The parks loves to point out pandas are "living fossils".  Apparently these are some prehistoric panda watchers.

Of course, a panda park wouldn't be complete without panda souvenir shops.

That's all of the panda photos for now.  Goodbye!