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Diplodocus

Diplodocus: Celebrating 100 years at the museum The Natural History Museum is marking the 100th 'birthday' of its most iconic exhibit, the 26m long Diplodocus dinosaur that dominates the museum's central hall, with a series of events from now to November.

Known affectionately as Dippy by museum staff, the Diplodocus is in fact a cast of bones from three skeletons discovered in Wyoming, US.

The bones date back 150 million years to the late part of the Jurassic and were part of the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Dippy was donated to the Natural History Museum by King Edward VII and was unveiled on 12 May 1905.

'The Diplodocus is certainly one of the world's best-loved dinosaurs, ' says Natural History Museum palaeontologist Paul Barrett. 'But maybe it's more important for scientists, as our studies on Diplodocus kickstarted a renaissance in our understanding of sauropod biology.' Dippy was once housed in the Marine Reptile Hall, as palaeontologists believed Diplodocus was a lake- or swamp-dweller. The legs were thought to be too weak for supporting its enormous bulk and the long neck was interpreted as a snorkel to allow breathing while submerged.

Palaeontologists now consider Diplodocus to have been much more active, perhaps roaming vast distances in search of vegetation. The elephantine legs acted as sturdy columns and the neck enabled feeding over a wide area.

l Diplodocus: Celebrating 100 years at the museum runs until 6 November 2005. Tel: 020 7942 5000 or visit: www. nhm. ac. uk

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