LONDON: The towering replica skeleton of “Dippy” the dinosaur, a star attraction at London’s Natural History Museum for more than 100 years, made its final appearance on Wednesday before being dismantled.
The 292-bone plastercast of a fossilised diplodocus has for decades greeted visitors in the museum’s iconic entrance hall, but is now being replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale.
More than 90 million people have seen “Dippy” since it was presented to the museum by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1905, following the discovery of the skeleton in the US state of Wyoming in 1898.
Measuring 21.3 metres (70 feet) long and 4.25 metres high, it has dominated the Hintze Hall since it was moved there in 1979, to the wonder of every small child and many adults who saw it on arrival.
News that it was being removed caused a public outcry, but the museum insists “Dippy” will reach new audiences during a two-year tour of Britain — before being preserved for posterity as a bronze statue in the museum gardens.
In its place will be suspended a 25.2-metre skeleton of a female whale that beached itself in 1891 in Ireland.
She had previously adorned the museum’s whale hall. The blue whale, the largest animal to have lived on Earth, has been hunted to near extinction.
The arrangement of “Dippy’s” bones has changed over the years as scientists learn more about the dinosaur, which lived sometime between 156 million and 145 million years ago.
Initially its head pointed downwards with its tail resting on the ground, but its neck was raised in the 1960s and in 1993 the tail was repositioned to curve over visitors’ heads.