Dippy gets a spring clean

29 June 2009

The Natural History Museum’s much loved Diplodocus dinosaur, nicknamed Dippy, has received its annual spring clean.

The 26-metre Diplodocus cast welcomes millions of visitors into the iconic Central Hall each year and has been at the Museum since 1905.

The Diplodocus cast has welcomed visitors to the Museum's Central Hall for more than 30 years

The Diplodocus cast has welcomed visitors to the Museum's Central Hall for more than 30 years

Museum experts used specialist methods and equipment to clean the 292 bones. It took 2 staff 2 days to clean the cast and make sure it is maintained well enough for future generations to enjoy.

Diplodocus is one of the Museum’s most iconic exhibits,’ says Dr Paul Barrett, dinosaur and fossil expert at the Museum. ‘But even icons need freshening up from time to time.’

Dippy donation

The Diplodocus cast was donated to the Museum by the Carnegie Museum in America after King Edward VII requested a copy of the newly discovered dinosaur.

Over 18 months, casts of the fossilised bones were made from 5 different skeletons and shipped to England in 36 crates.

A team of technicians followed with the awesome task of assembling the hundreds of bones.

In 1993, the dinosaur’s tail was lifted from the ground after research revealed that Diplodocus tails would have been raised high to balance the neck.

New scientific discoveries

‘Although we’ve known about Diplodocus for over 130 years, we’re constantly finding new information about it, which enriches our knowledge of dinosaurs and more general questions about evolution,’ says Barrett.

‘For example, just last month research suggested that sauropod dinosaurs may have held their necks upright.' 

'It is not unreasonable to suggest that their necks may have been held in a vertical position, but sauropod lifestyles would have required necks with a wide range of movement, not least to reach down to drink water from ground level.’

More about Diplodocus

Diplodocus lived 150 million years ago, in the Late Jurassic Period. At 26 metres, it’s one of the longest land animals ever to walk the earth.

It was once believed that Diplodocus was a lake- or swamp-dweller that used its long neck as a snorkel to allow breathing while submerged. Palaeontologists (fossil experts) now consider the dinosaur to have been much more active, perhaps roaming vast distances in search of vegetation.

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