Dippy the Diplodocus in Hintze Hall

Dippy stands proud in the Museum's Hintze Hall, where the iconic dinosaur cast was on display from 1979 until January 2017

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Dippy: this is your life

The story of our Diplodocus cast goes back more than a hundred years.

We take a look back at its long life as one of the best-loved exhibits in the history of the Museum.

A star cast

The Museum's Diplodocus skeleton cast, known affectionately as Dippy, was for many years the first sight to greet Museum visitors.

When it was unveiled to the public in 1905, Dippy became a star, and has since featured in newspaper cartoons, news reports and even played starring roles in film and television.

Cast from the type specimen found in America, the Diplodocus has moved location, changed posture and in 2016 the Museum announced that Dippy would be replaced by a blue whale skeleton.

Diplodocus was first described as a new type of dinosaur in 1878 by Professor Othniel C Marsh at Yale University. The species lived sometime between 156 and 145 million years ago and belongs to a group called sauropods, meaning 'lizard feet'.

'Most colossal animal on Earth'

When railroad workers unearthed the fossilised bones of a Diplodocus in Wyoming, USA in 1899, newspapers billed the discovery as the 'most colossal animal ever on Earth'.

Scottish-born millionaire businessman Andrew Carnegie heard the reports and set out to acquire the bones as a centrepiece for his new museum in Pittsburgh.

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.

By order of the King

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 Natural History Museum. Carnegie obliged by commissioning a replica cast of his dinosaur.

The grand unveiling of Dippy the Diplodocus, in 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.

Too big for the Fossil Reptile Gallery (now Creepy Crawlies), Dippy was originally housed in the Reptile Gallery (now Human Biology).

The Diplodocus in the Museum's Fossil Reptile Gallery (now Creepy Crawlies)

The Diplodocus in the Museum's Reptile Gallery (now Human Biology)

War and peace

During World War II the skeleton was disassembled and relocated to the basement to protect it from bomb damage.

And in 1979, Dippy made the move to Hintze Hall, remaining there until 2017.

Dippy's appearance has changed over the years, reflecting advances in our understanding of dinosaur biology and evolution.

The dinosaur'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.

Dippy in the Museum's Hintze Hall

Dippy in the Museum's Hintze Hall

After more than 110 years on display in London, the Museum announced that Dippy would be going on a tour of the UK.

Dippy's last day on show in London was 4 January 2017. Conservators spent 12 months preparing the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast for its journey.

Dippy visited eight venues and was seen by over two million visitors, encouraging people to explore and cherish the biodiversity around them.