Eyes popping in astonishment, his mouth hanging mutely open, seven-year-old Joel approaches the four-meter-high monster and stands nose-to-nose with one of the deadliest killing machines the world has ever known. The full-scale Tyrannosaurus rex is just one of the prehistoric highlights on display at Portugal’s self-proclaimed “dinosaur capital,” a new theme park in one of the most fossil-rich regions in Europe. “We have 120 large-scale reproductions of 70 different species, spread over 10 hectares,” Simao Mateus, Dino Park’s scientific director said. Although only recently opened, the park sits in a part of Portugal long famous among paleontologists for its extraordinary array of fossilized remains. The nearby town of Lourinha, an hour’s drive north of Lisbon, has been dinosaur-mad ever since the remains of a dozen of the creatures were discovered in the late 19th century. It already has a dinosaur museum and dinosaur statues in metal or resin can be seen on its roundabouts, while pavements are decorated with paintings of dinosaur footprints.
“Lourinha is quite particular about its dinosaurs, so we should all enjoy” the new facility, Mateus said. Visitors to the park are greeted by the rearing neck of a giant model Supersaurus, one of the largest dinosaur genera, announcing a collection as impressive as anything else to be found in Europe. Imported from Germany, the resin statues are dotted throughout a forest route guiding budding paleontologists through the eons when dinosaurs stalked the Earth.
Pride of place goes to two models of dinosaurs actually discovered in the town. Lourinhasaurus was a sauropod — an immense, four-legged herbivore similar to Brachiosaurus or Diplodocus — that roamed the rainforests of western Laurasia around 150 million years ago. That gentle giant is not to be confused with Lourinhanosaurus, a sharp-fanged and crafty hunter the size of a crocodile that lived in roughly the same era as Lourinhasaurus.
‘CREATURES FROM THEIR DREAMS’
Mateus says interest in the park has started strong, with 175,000 visitors through the gates in the six months since opening, despite a prolonged period of poor weather. On this visit, to the backdrop of the roars and squawks of dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, a gaggle of young schoolchildren gape up in awe at the T-rex, its huge jaws capable of gobbling each one in a single gulp. Other little ones cluster around a model Iguanodon — a Cretaceous-era grazer — though one boy keeps his distance from the reptile’s giant spiky thumb. For park employee Filipa Pedro, who has been handing out stone blocks, hammers, chisels and other tools to this next generation of geologists, the experience offers children a glance of a long-lost part of the planet’s past.
“Children love dinosaurs, they are like these mysterious creatures that come from their dreams,” she says. “Thanks to lots of cartoons and films on the subject, their knowledge is impressive. So this park is bound to please them.”
Sept. 28 to Oct . 4 A large number of 3000-year-old slate coffins were unearthed on a hill near Nanhe Village (南和村) in Pingtung County on Sept. 30, 1985. Unfortunately, the United Daily News (聯合報) noted that they had been seriously damaged by construction, and no artifacts or human remains were found. Although the newspaper called the find a “significant discovery,” little information can be gleaned about this specific site because it’s just one of countless locations where stone sarcophagi have been unearthed across southern and eastern Taiwan, and as north as Yilan County. These stone receptacles for the dead were
Until this summer, when the idea of hiking the length of the island first occurred to me, I didn’t even know that Cijin (旗津) had been a peninsula until 1967. That’s when diggers and dredgers severed Cijin from Taiwan’s “mainland,” because the authorities wished to create a southern entrance to Kaohsiung’s fast expanding port. The island is just under 9km long, but a bit of research quickly convinced me that a south-to-north trek wasn’t a good idea. The southern third of Cijin is dominated by container-lifting cranes, warehouses and other facilities off-limits to the public. Dunhe Street (敦和街) forms the boundary between
Sitting at the bar, martini in hand, Kristin Scott Thomas rolls her eyes briefly heavenwards. And then she declares, in one of the most memorable monologues of the cult BBC drama Fleabag, that menopause is the “most wonderful fucking thing in the world. And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get fucking hot and no one cares. But then — you’re free! No longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person, in business.” When an entranced Fleabag says she has been told the whole thing is horrendous, Scott Thomas’s character responds: “It is horrendous,
As if the climbs and views and snacks and companions of cycling in Taiwan aren’t sufficient, the GPS-generation of route-planners are now using apps such as Strava and Endomondo to create works of art as they ride. One such is nicknamed the Dove Road of Sijhih (汐鴿路), a 25km ride that follows the riverside bike path from the Nangang-Neihu Bridge (南湖橋) to New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止), climbs around 400m up the Sijhih-Shiding Road (汐碇路), before dropping back down past Academia Sinica to generate a very dove-like pattern. Originally called Kippanas by indigenous Ketagalan people and transliterated into Hoklo (more commonly