Daily Archives: January 16, 2014

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013 Dinosaurs – 6

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

As mentioned previously, the dinosaur section of the Chinese Lantern Festival has a set of animatronic dinosaurs, for unknown reasons but appreciated nonetheless. While the Apatosaurus may technically be larger, the Tyrannosaurus definitely caught more attention. Half of the fun was watching the kids’ expressions while watching their parents: they all enjoyed the dinosaurs, but the idea of moving, roaring dinosaurs among the lanterns was wondrous but not overly unexpected. Their parents and the other adults, though, just couldn’t stop staring.

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Baby tyrannosaur at Chinese Lantern Festival

Right across the pathway from the big dinosaurs was a trio of fiberglass dinosaur eggs. Two were empty and fitted with entrances for kids to peek out, and the third had this (non-operational) baby tyrannosaur emerging from the top. Unlike the big dinosaurs, this one was accessible by passersby, and I was a little disturbed by how many visitors kept poking its eyes as if it would respond.

Baby tyrannosaur at Chinese Lantern Festival

I suspect that every photographer secretly hopes for that perfect photobomb, and I finally got mine. Just as I was aiming and focusing, this young lady appeared out of nowhere, hugged the baby tyrannosaur, and then went on to see the other sights. We should all be so lucky to get photobombed by such a charming and considerate individual.

Baby tyrannosaur at Chinese Lantern Festival

On the other hand, then there was this lump of offal oozing out of one of the empty eggs. Suddenly, we have an explanation for why the dinosaurs became extinct. It’s like walking into the middle of a GWAR concert, isn’t it?

Crack in the egg

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013 Dinosaurs – 5

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival dinosaurs

For some reason, the Chinese Lantern Festival has three animatronic dinosaurs alongside the lantern ones, all out roaring and waving at passersby. Not that I’m complaining, because any festival is a good excuse for more robot dinosaurs.

Chinese Lantern Festival dinosaurs

Among other sights, I found this hottie standing by the back door of the old Dallas Museum of Natural History, posing alongside the big mammoth skull still in the old space. I know this was my wedding anniversary, but I took her home anyway: how many second chances would a guy get with someone this wonderful?

Czarina

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013 Dinosaurs – 4

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival – 3

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013

More to follow…

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013 Dinosaurs – 3

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival 2013 Dinosaurs – 2

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

And before you ask, this Apatosaurus has a water nozzle in its mouth, which was used for a fountain in last year’s Lantern Festival. I’m just glad it wasn’t shooting fire.

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Chinese Lantern Festival - Dinosaurs

Still more coming…

Moody Gardens in January – 4

Moody Gardens Rainforest pyramid

The longer I work with carnivorous plants, the more I appreciate the merits of the whole plant, not just the structures used for capturing insect prey. Yes, the pitchers on a Sarracenia pitcher plant are beautiful and exotic, but there’s an equal beauty in the blooms and rhizomes, and further beauty in the plant’s entire life cycle over the space of the year. To understand the plant, you have to view it over its entire growing season, from spring budding to final winter dieback, and not just focus on one tiny part of the life cycle. Don’t take the time to check on the pitcher plant over the entire year, and you miss a lot of the inherent beauty because you’re only focusing on its prime insect-catching period.

This applies to many other plants, including a plant famous for its blooms. The titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is best known for its gigantic and foul-smelling flowers, which are rare enough to be newsworthy. When a titan arum in a big greenhouse starts to flower, news crews and general bystanders converge on the flowers much like the flies needed for their pollination. But how many people look at the rest of the plant after the bloom shrivels and dies?

That’s why I have a special love for the extensive crew managing the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens in Galveston, because they understand this, too. Sure, they could make a big deal about a new A. titanum bloom, but what about the majesty of the full-grown plant?

Amorphophallus titanum

In most displays of this type, the emphasis is usually on the animals, with the plants being not much more than background. This is completely understandable: we humans in particular and we mammals in general are the end-result of millions of years of pattern recognition encouragement. In most cases, we not only ignore the majority of the flora surrounding the occasional bit of fauna, but we actively block out the flora unless it directly affects us. Think about the last time you went for a walk in woodlands: seeing a toad crossing the path made more of an impression than the trees surrounding that path, didn’t it?

Amorphophallus titanum

The Moody Gardens titan arum is near the center of the pyramid, and easily accessible when navigating the trails meandering along its floor. The branches stretch well overhead, but the trunk is close enough to touch. Strangely, nobody does: it almost seems disrespectful to do so. Just getting the chance to see a fully-grown titan arum is fascinating enough, but to stand underneath one and view the underside of the foliage…that I could do for hours.

Amorphophallus titanum

More to follow…