One of the Natural History Museum's best loved dinosaurs is being replaced by a blue whaleby Harry Davies / January 29, 2015 / Leave a comment
Dino-lovers of all ages have been expressing their discontent on Twitter at the planned replacement of the Natural History Museum’s Dippy the diplodocus. After 110 years the beloved skeleton is being moved from his proud position in the museum’s entrance hall, replaced by the bones of a blue whale.
What or who is Dippy?
Dippy is the plaster cast model of a 292-boned diplodocus skeleton. Before we engage in arguments over how to pronounce “diplodocus,” the Natural History Museum say it should be pronounced “dip-low-dock-us,” with emphasis on the first and third syllables. The Oxford Dictionary also allows ‘dip-plod-er-cus’ though, so who knows? When railway workers in the US discovered the fossilised bones of a diplodocus in 1898, newspapers described it as the “most colossal animal on Earth.” King Edward VII saw sketches of the giant creature and remarked how good it would look in a museum. The Carnegie Museum in America commissioned 10 replicas and gave one to the king.
Why is everyone so dippy about him?
The dinosaur skeleton has delighted members of the public since it was unveiled in 1905. He has only held his current residency in the Hintze Hall since 1979 though, after a brief stint in the basement during the war. The exhibit has been resistant to change, with the only real alteration coming in 1993 when its head was tilted upwards after research indicated the original position was incorrect. Apart from that, Dippy in his current state has been the focal point of countless visits and pictures. His place in the hearts of visitors will be hard to fill.
What is taking his place?
A skeleton of a 25m-long blue whale that was bought by the museum in 1891 for just £250 will take Dippy’s position. It currently hangs in the mammals gallery. The curators plan to reposition the whale and put it in a dramatic, diving posture, instead of its current, more placid placement. The Natural History Museum’s director, Sir Michael Dixon, told the BBC; “Everyone loves Dippy, but it’s just a copy. What makes this museum special is that we have real objects from the natural world”. Moving the whale will also provide scientists with the opportunity to clean, catalogue and study each individual bone in an unprecdented fashion.
What will happen to Dippy?
All is not lost for Dippy. He is likely to have a whale of a time in his new role as the centrepiece of a larger exhibit on how dinosaurs lived. There’s also discussion of Dippy visiting fans across the country and going on tour to regional museums.
What are people saying about the move?
— Diplodocus carnegii (@NHM_Dippy) December 2, 2014
— Louise Ridley (@LouiseRidley) January 29, 2015
— Mar (@MarDixon) January 29, 2015
— Metro (@MetroUK) January 29, 2015