Skip navigation
You are here: Home > NaturePlus > Blogs > Tags

Blog Posts

Blog Posts

Items per page
0

Yes today, our most iconic and much-loved Central Hall Diplodocus dinosaur display is 106 years old! And looking good on it too.

DIPPY-03-VF.jpg

Diplodocus carnegii in the Central Hall. The famous skeleton cast is 26 metres long and has 356 individual bones. Select image to enlarge

Thanks to King Edward VII and the Scottish-born millionaire Andrew Carnegie, Dippy - as our 26-metre-long sauropod skeleton plaster cast is affectionatey known here - was unveiled at 1pm in the Museum on 12 May 1905.

 

It was the first full skeleton of a sauropod dinosaur to go on display in the world and understandably caused a stir. Sauropods were the very large, plant-eating dinosaurs, with famously long necks and tails that lived about 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period.

dippy-106-full.jpg

 

Diplodocus means 'double-beam' which refers to the shape of some of the lower tail bones, called chevrons. Although there are estimations that Amphicoelias is the longest dinosaur, Dippy is still the longest dinosaur from a completely known individual.

 

A recent Museum book about Dippy written by our dinosaur expert Paul  Barrett (along with Polly Parry and Sandra Chapman), opens with this:

 

dippy-book-angle-drop-800px.jpg''Dippy is not a real skeleton, but an exact plaster replica of fossilised  bones found in the badlands of Wyoming, USA, and now housed in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh. The London Diplodocus was first revealed to an astonished public in 1905 and became an instant media star, depicted in numerous newspaper cartoons and news reports. Dippy continues to enthral the public and has even had a  starring role in movies and TV shows.'

 

According to the book, visitors often ask how to pronounce Diplodocus. As the name is a combination of two Greek words, it should sound like 'dip-low-dock-us' with the emphasis on the 'dip' and the 'dock'. However, there are lots of variations on this, ranging from 'dip-low-doe-cus' to 'dip-lod-oh-cus'. I'm still not sure myself, which is probably why a lot of us just stick with Dippy.

 

Dippy: the tale of a museum icon is a great read, and is on sale in the Museum shop and our online shop.

 

Read all about Dippy's 106 years here at the Museum in the latest news story


Other dinosaur delights for our visitors and featuring animatronic models are the Age of the Dinosaur summer exhibition and the Dinosaurs gallery.

 

Find out lots of fantastic facts about Diplodocus on our Dino Directory Top 5 fact file.

0

Pretty much everything in the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, which opened today, is big.

 

Huge graphic timeline panels, vast silhouettes of prehistoric creatures, tall palm-like trees, giant skulls and teeth, and of course, towering animatronic dinosaurs. I feel sure this journey back into a world more than 65 million years old is going to be a big hit through the summer months with visitors young and old.

tarby-2-1000.jpg

Children stare in wonder at the 1.5 tonne Tarbosaurus. The last but certainly not the least, animatronic beast in the Age of the Dinosaur's Jurassic zone. This fearsome T.rex twin lived about 70 million years ago.

But there are many smaller wonders in this exhibition to look out for. Weird-looking bugs and insects nestling in the fern-filled Jurassic swamp and rocky Cretaceous desert. Dinosaur eggs - one is actually hatching - that are guarded by an Oviraptor and Protoceratops. Delicate fossil bones. Smells and sounds bouncing around. And snippets of amazing scientific facts and research that even the most hardcore dino boffins may not be familiar with.

 

Sandy Clark, our Visitor Services manager told me about the opening day which happens to be Good Friday: 'The queues in the morning at the Red Zone's ticket desks were probably the longest we've ever had, so there's a real interest in this exhibition. By about 3pm we had sold out. And then we were busy putting up signs to warn people. We actually sold about 2,000 tickets on the day. We had a few refunds I heard, but this was only because children got too scared and had to leave!'

 

giant-timeline2-1000.jpg

One of the huge evolutionary graphic timelines you'll encounter as you start your exhibition journey.

The exhibition gallery is arranged into two main immersive habitats, the Cretaceous and the Jurassic zones, with surrounding and central areas that showcase many spectacular specimen displays, images, fact panels and interactive tables and an underwater CGI film.

archaeopteryx-foliage-1000.jpg

Jurassic zone's, animatronic Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird.

There are six roaring animatronic dinosaurs and one dino-bird. In order of who you'll meet first, they are: Camarasaurus and Archaeopteryx, both in the Jurassic zone; moving into the Cretaceous zone, there's Protoceratops with Velociraptor, who face Gallimimus, and finally round the corner, still in the Cretaceous zone, are Oviraptor and Tarbosaurus.

cretaceous-creatures-1000.jpg

Cretaceous zone's Protoceratops guards its eggs from the approaching feathery Velociraptor. Tarbosaurus is a shadowy threat in the distance.

protoceratops-skull-1000.jpg

A spectacular Protoceratops skull. There are about seven dinosaur skulls to examine in the exhibition displays

Among the exhibits, you'll find some great interactive challenges. At the Dig It Up and Examine It tables you can piece together the evidence of how we know what the Jurassic and Cretaceous worlds were like. Also check out the kiosks, pictured below, before you leave for the chance to make an online dinosaur scrapbook. If you keep your ticket you can continue your dinosaur and fossil exploration at home on your computer.

interactive-table-1000.jpg

Examine fossils or create your own dinosaur scrapbook at one of the fun interactive tables

Enjoy it. And Happy Easter. You can book exhibition tickets online

 

Find out more about the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition

 

Oh and I'm kinda chuffed that it's my 100th What's new blog on the same day Age of the Dinosaur opened.

0

Last week I joined the queue to re-visit our famous giant, moving T. rex in the Dinosaurs Gallery. I felt the buzz of excitement and anticipation as we got closer to the pit and the faraway roars got louder. I've visited T. rex many times, but that roar and the mist from the pit just before you turn the corner, always gets me.

 

Re-live the roar in this short clip of T. rex in action

t.rex-moving.jpg

Visitors arriving now from all over the world to marvel at the Museum's star attraction won't probably know that our T. rex has recently been absent from the Dinosaurs Gallery for about 5 weeks. This disappearance was due to a serious operation involving a hip replacement, major cosmetic surgery, and some much-needed pit improvements. Well, poor T. rex is after all, about 65 million years old and it's a challenging job frightening Museum visitors day after day.

 

Perhaps it was my imagination, but as I walked past the noticeably swampier-looking pit, I thought I saw a twinkle in those small, ferocious eyes. I'm sure T. rex is glad to be back in business. (In our busiest weeks T.rex can attract up to 50,000 visitors a week.)

 

It was engineers Steve Suttle and Martin Kirkby who carried out the highly skilled replacement of T. rex's strained hip joint parts and neck. These T.rex bits had got very worn through, so the new joints and parts mean smoother motion, all the better to scare us with. Technician Rob Lewenstien did the careful cosmetic surgery on the silicone skin to smooth over cuts.

 

There was also major scenic work done on T. rex's pit by our Display and Conservation team, led by Claire Kelly. The team re-painted and re-defined the ground and water area in the pit and also re-worked the carcass which T. rex sniffs around. Extra foliage, tree stumps and plant stems have been added to get a more authentic swampy habitat. The picture below shows work in progress.

 

Finishing touches came from the Museum's SFX and Media Tech teams who have improved the lighting and the ambient soundtrack to better show off the pit and create a more atmospheric and dramatic display.

 

t.rex-Jesmonite-around-carcass.jpg'The project showed off the wide range of skills in the Museum's in-house production teams,' enthused programme manager, Nick Sainton-Clark, 'and the engineering work was extensive but successful, so we shouldn't have to have this kind of closure for the foreseeable future.'

 

Enjoy the Dinosaur Gallery highlights in our slideshow

 

Learn about Dinosaurs on our website

 

Explore our Dino Directory

 

 

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.