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Dippy the 'people's dinosaur' hits the road: Natural History Museum's 70ft-long replica of a diplodocus begins its UK tour in Dorset's Jurassic coast

February 9, 2018 6:34 PM
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The 70-foot (26-metre) dinosaur skeleton cast, which used to be the centrepiece of the Natural History Museum, will begin its tour tomorrow when it is unveiled at a museum on Dorset's Jurassic Coast.

Dippy's tour of Britain will continue until 2020 and is the first time the 'people's dinosaur' has been publicly displayed outside the Natural History Museum, where it had been on show since 1905.

A huge dinosaur skeleton will begin its tour of the UK today when it is unveiled in a museum on the Jurassic Coast. Dippy the Dinosaur had been on display in the Natural History Museum since the early 1900s, but is now briefly set-up at Dorset's County Museum (pictured)

Dippy's enormous skeleton only just fits into Dorset County Museum's Victorian Hall gallery, which measures 71 feet (22 metres).

Experts had to remove some balcony balustrades to fit him in with just four inches (10 cm) to spare.

After its three-month spell in Dorset, Dippy will be shown at museums and cathedrals in Birmingham, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cardiff, Rochdale and Norwich.

The skeleton is a cast made in the early 1900s from an original in Pennsylvania.

It is an example of the Diplodocus carnegii species, which lived between 145 and 156 million years ago.

The species is named after Andrew Carnegie, a 19th-century industrialist and philanthropist who donated the cast to the Natural History Museum.

In its displayed pose, the skeleton – nicknamed Dippy – is 85 feet (26 metres) long, 14 feet (4.3) metres wide and 13.7 feet (4.2) metres high.

It took three weeks to dismantle the 292 bones, which are made of resin and plaster of Paris.

The move gave conservationists the chance to give replica dinosaur an extensive renovation and a spruce up ahead of his temporary move to Dorchester.

It also gave them the opportunity to correct Dippy's two front feet and change them to 'hands', which is what diplodocuses had based on new findings about the beasts.

At the Natural History Museum, a blue whale skeleton has taken Dippy's place in the Hintze Hall.

Dippy the Dinosaur is a cast of the first Dipolodocus skeleton ever found, and was made in the early 1900s from the original in Pennsylvania, USA.

In its displayed pose, the skeleton is 85 feet (26 metres) long, 14 feet (4.3) metres wide and 13.7 feet (4.2) metres high.

When it was unveiled at the Natural History Museum in London in 1905, the cast became a star, and has since featured in newspaper cartoons, news reports and even played starring roles in film and television.

When railroad workers unearthed the fossilised bones Dippy is based on in Wyoming, USA, in 1898, newspapers billed the discovery as the 'most colossal animal ever on Earth'.

Dippy is one of 10 replicas of the original in museums around the world, including Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Moscow.

Dippy had been on display at the Natural History Museum since the early 1900s, and was mostly recently shown in the Hintze Hall in the museum's entrance from 1979 to 2017.

Now the dinosaur skeleton cast is embarking on a two-year tour of the UK, visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and five regions across England.

The tour aims to connect the nation with nature and spark the imagination of a new generation of scientists, naturalists and environmentalists.

Diplodocus was a long, herbivorous species 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'.

The tour begins at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, Dorset, on the Jurassic Coast, famed for its fossils.

The exhibit will be open to the public from Saturday, with some events for press on Friday.

Its two-year UK tour will visit Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and five regions across England.

The museum estimates that five million people will see the skeleton on its tour.


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