Cast from the type specimen found in America, our iconic Diplodocus has moved location, changed posture and has a history as long as its tail.
Our Diplodocus skeleton cast is known affectionately as Dippy, and is often the first sight to greet Museum visitors.
When unveiled to the public in 1905, Dippy became a star. The exhibit has since featured in newspaper cartoons, news reports and even played starring roles in film and TV.
Diplodocus was first described as a new type of dinosaur in 1878 by Professor Othniel C March at Yale University. The species lived sometime between 156 and 145 million years ago and belongs to a group called sauropods, meaning 'lizard feet'.
When a railroad workers unearthed the fossilised bones of a Diplodocus in Wyoming, USA in 1898, newspapers billed the discovery as the 'Most colossal animal ever on Earth'.
Scottish-born millionaire businessman Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) heard the reports, and set out to acquire the bones as a centrepiece for his new museum in Pittsburg.
During the reconstruction of the skeleton at the Carnegie Museum, experts discovered subtle differences from the two other Diplodocus species known at the time, Diplodocus longus and Diplodocus lacustris.
The new species was named Diplodocus carnegii in honour of its owner.
King Edward VII saw a sketch of the Diplodocus while visiting Carnegie at his Scottish castle and remarked how much he'd like a similar specimen for the animal galleries of the British Museum (now the Natural History Museum). Carnegie obliged by commissioning a replica cast of his dinosaur.
Dippy's Museum unveiling, 12 May 1905
Dippy is one of 10 replicas of the original D. carnegii in museums around the world, including Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Moscow.
The 292-bone skeleton arrived in London in 36 packing cases and was unveiled to the public four months later in a lavish ceremony for 300 people on Friday 12 May 1905.
Dippy was originally housed in the Reptile Gallery (now Human Biology) because it was too big for the Fossil Reptile Gallery (now Creepy Crawlies).
During WWII the skeleton was taken down into the basement to protect it from bomb damage. In 1979, Dippy made the move to the Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall), where it remains today.
Dippy's graceful tail
Dippy's appearance has also changed over the years, reflecting advances in our understanding of dinosaur biology and evolution.
The specimen's head originally pointed downwards with the tail resting on the ground. Following new research in the 1960s, the neck was raised to a horizontal position and in 1993, the tail was repositioned to curve spectacularly over visitors heads, as seen today.