Disco Dino at Dubai Mall

dino

Looking at these pictures of dinosaurs I just cannot believe that they inhabited our planet 230 million years ago. They walked the same ground we are walking now!

Looking at the dinosaur at the Dubai Mall, I can’t believe that something from that many million years ago, is just there, next to Tiffany and Cartier – it’s so surreal. 230 million years from now, maybe our bones will be in some public arena for people (or creatures!?) to gape at.

Just to put this all into context, according to the BBC, the history of life on Earth as we know it began about 3.8 billion years ago. The bacteria that we fight everyday were the first living things (!). Evolution did its thing and starting 570 million years ago, species we are familiar with like arthropods (eg. cockroach) and fish started to develop. Mammals came to being about 200 million years ago and us Homo sapiens, only about 200,000 years ago. We’ve hardly been around!

There have been eras of mass extinction that have wiped out entire races of living things, like dinosaurs, while others have survived. When and what will cause the mass extinction of humans? Or will science help us evolve into an immortal race that will still be around 4 billion years from now? Isn’t it crazy to think about!?

So back to the dino in Dubai. She is a 155 million year old long-necked whip-tailed sauropod (translates from Greek to ‘lizard foot’). She is 80 feet long and 25 feet high, and was 25 years old when she died. Had she lived her whole life, she would be at least double the size and weigh as heavy as five elephants put together.

While looking at her, it took me a few seconds to determine which side her head was on. In the image, it’s the bit on the right. It’s a very small head, common for herbivore dinosaurs. Meat eating animals have bigger heads because they need the brains to think about how to find and kill their next prey, is what the Dubai Mall exhibit attendant told me.

They say her bones were found intact in a sleeping position in 2008 in Wyoming (USA), and she probably died after being attacked while fighting for water to drink during a drought. 90% of the bones in the exhibit are original. Her tailbones were damaged and required some fixing.

Dinosaurs first appeared during the Triassic period, 231 million years ago and became extinct about 66 million years ago. The first dinosaur fossils were recognized only in the early 19th century.

It’s so mind-boggling to have access to something that old. I cannot fathom what 155 million years old means. It’s just fascinating. Makes you really think about evolution and what sort of species living beings will turn into in the future.

There is a name the dino competition going on on Twitter #NameTDMDino. I thought I would be able to think of a name once I saw it, but I really can’t – nothing feels right. Cindy? Nicole? Anastassiarex? Natashasaurous? I hope they name her something special, not Dubai Mall Dino.

#Day10, post 7.

Superfreakonomics winners and urrr sorry

Apologies for disappearing. Went to India last minute which threw everything offboard as I prepared to go. Went to Aurangabad, a small but rapidly growing town known for the Ajanta Ellora Caves , it’s where I went to school. Anyway, more on that later, this post is to announce the winners of the Superfreakonomics competition.

I received 11 comments and 3 emails. It’s always interesting to see how people respond to such open ended competition questions; you often find that responses are not what you expected – but that’s what makes it interesting I suppose. Anyway, my two winners are:

1) Sean McLachlan: Because he wrote a simple and funny limerick as a response. Certainly one of the most unique answers.

2) Kedar: Because he put enough effort to come up with a freaky question, logic of which was so freakishly random that only he can make sense of — which is pretty much like all the questions the Freakonomics guys pose.

So voila! Congrats Sean and Kedar. Please email me your postal addresses so I can get the publishers to mail the books over to you.  As for the rest, thanks for participating anyway!

Competition:Win a copy of SuperFreakonomics!

superfreakonomics

If you haven’t read, or at least heard of Freakonomics — shame on you.

In a nutshell, as put perfectly by the AP, Freakonomics is a book where the authors “crunch numbers about mundane topics to reveal interesting, unexpected conclusions”. For example: What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? Questions you wouldn’t really think to ask, but they are valid, and if nothing else, beg you to think differently and feed your curiosity. A quirky book that is written basis principles of economics, anyone with an inquisitive mind will enjoy it. I wrote a review of the book about 2 years ago that you can read here. Also, the authors of Freakonomics have a regular blog on the NYTimes and you can follow them on Twitter http://twitter.com/Freakonomics, so do check those links out to get a flavour of their crazy thinking ability.

Now, the success of Freakonomics lead the authors to come up with another such book called “SuperFreakonomics”. You can check out some reviews of it here (WSJ) and here (LA Times).

I haven’t read the book yet (on my priority list to read), but I do have two copies to give away!

So, tell me, in not more that 50 words, why do you deserve to win a copy of SuperFreakonomics?

You can leave a comment here or send me an email at abha.malpani@gmail.com with “SuperFreakonomics” in the subject line. Deadline to send in your comments is November 17, 2009.

Come on then, it’s an easy win! 🙂