Following my blog the other week about the various Diplodocus casts around the world, and the various positions of their tails, I began to wonder about what happened to the original tail of our own Diplodocus after it was replaced and repositioned in 1993.
Are the 70+ original vertebrae casts of Dippy's tail still around? And what about the temporary cardboard tail?
So I got in touch with Sandra Chapman, fossil curator and Dippy aficionado (she is a co-author of the Museum's book, Dippy: the tale of a Museum icon) to find out. Sandra told me that while the temporary cardboard tail has not survived, some of the original cast bones from Dippy's tail-down position are still stored in our dinosaur collections. And not only that, she let me have a look at - and a hold of - one of the iconic chevron pieces.
This chevron cast is from around the middle of the tail, where it hung from the underside, alongside another chevron in a pair. At the top of the tail the chevrons are arranged singularly, but become double around half-way down and to the tip.
The name Diplodocus actually means 'double-beamed', and is derived from the pairs the chevrons.
This nomenclature fact, and every other nugget of information you could probably ever want to know, can be found in the Dippy book written by Sandra, Paul Barrett and Polly Parry.