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155 million-year-old dinosaur at Dubai Mall

kelly@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 13, 2014
155 million-year-old dinosaur at Dubai Mall

Emaar asks public to give a unique name to the world’s rarest fossil

A plant-eating dinosaur that met its demise at the bottom of a waterhole 155 million years ago has taken up residence at The Dubai Mall, and now it’s up to the public to name the rare find.

The 24.4-metre-long and 7.6-metre-high Diplodocus longus was unveiled to an eager crowd on Monday evening, and as the curtain was drawn, a ricochet of gasps could be heard across the mall.

“I was expecting to see a luxury car or yacht, not a dinosaur,” Italian tourist Vicardo Lorenzo told Khaleej Times.

During the lead-up to the big reveal, many in the crowd speculated as to what was lurking behind the big, black curtain, and the wagging tongues were not disappointed.

Expecting something “a little more mainstream”, Lorenzo said the 30-minute delay was well worth the wait.

“I’ve been in Dubai for about five days and this will definitely be a memorable part of the trip for me. I mean a dinosaur fossil in a mall...it’s crazy, but a good crazy.”

Mall becomes museum

The latest, jaw-dropping attraction from Emaar is the first fossil of its size to go on display in such a public venue, and Houston Museum of Natural Sciences’ president and CEO Joel Bartsch, said it could make The Dubai Mall one of the most “important museum’s in the world”.

155 million-year-old dinosaur at Dubai Mall (/assets/oldimages/sur_03112014.jpg)

The skeleton of the 24.4-metre-long and 7.6-metre-high dinosaur unveiled at The Dubai Mall on Monday. — KT photo by Juidin Bernarrd

“This is the most important and complete fossil we have ever found. With a footfall of six million people per month, the mall is the perfect venue to show off this authentic discovery,” he said.

Moments before the big reveal, Emaar’s Chairman Mohammed bin Ali Alabbar brought founder of Etihad Modern Art Gallery Khalid Seddiq on stage, before narrating how the story came to be.

“My dear friend Khalid made this happen. Years ago we talked about bringing something like this to Dubai and he told me, ‘Mohammed, if you want a dinosaur, you’ll get a dinosaur’, and here we are today.”

And when Khaleej Times asked why he wanted a dinosaur of all things, Alabbar joked: “Well for one, it’s a great directional sign within the mall. If you get lost, you can always meet at the dinosaur.”

“Human beings are mesmerised by dinosaurs and fossils, so this is their chance to get up close and personal with a real one.”

Final resting place

Excavated by German Paleontologist Raimund Albersdoerfer in 2008 from the Dana Quarry in Wyoming, USA, experts took five years to excavate and prepare the bones.

Found in the sleeping position, Albersdoerfer said the feeling upon discovery was intense.

“My hammer hit something hard, then I saw a beautiful bone. I kept digging then found the next bone, and the next. It was an incredible feeling.”

Towering above the floors of The Dubai Mall, the dinosaur’s new stance looks set for battle.

Perched on its hind legs, with a long sweeping tail and slender neck, at first glance the dinosaur appears headless, but Albersdoerfer laid Khaleej Times’ speculation to rest.

“It’s just a very, very small head.”

World’s rarest fossil

The most complete of any gigantic dinosaur ever found, the Diplodocus longus’ skeleton is more than 90 per cent intact, making it one of the rarest discoveries in paleontology history.

“If you go to London, its largest exhibit is completely casted. Go to New York and they have a similar one but it is only about 30 per cent complete. Dubai is the first city to house such a thing.”

So why choose a mall? Albersdoerfer said no museum in the world would get the same amount of visitors as The Dubai Mall, so what better place to showcase it.

“Seddiq called me and said ‘Raimund, we’re going to buy this’, so I said okay. I’m absolutely happy. Here everyone can see it, people can get inspired by it, which is all I want.”

The name game

Referring to the colossal exhibit as “the lady”, Alabbar said the next step is to give the anonymous dinosaur an identity and he has tasked us, the public, with the job.

“This is your chance to become more than just a spectator, so think of something unique,” he told an excited crowd.

So, after 155 million years underground let’s do “the lady” justice and give her a name to be proud of. Tweet you suggestion at: #NameTDMDino

kelly@khaleejtimes.com

author

Kelly Clarke

Originally from the UK, Kelly Clarke joined Khaleej Times in November 2012. She has a keen interest in humanitarian issues and took over as the dedicated Education Reporter in August 2016. In her spare time she loves to travel off the beaten track, and often write about her quirky experiences of pastures new. Kelly received her BA Honours in Journalism from Middlesex University, UK in 2008. Before joining Khaleej Times she worked as a Supervising Editor for three Healthcare titles in London. @KellyAnn_Clarke





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