Have you ever visited a natural history museum and been struck by the massive skeleton of a dinosaur at the entrance? If you have, you’re not alone! The dinosaur in question is one of the most recognizable and beloved exhibits in natural history museums across the world.
The dinosaur in question is a Diplodocus, a massive herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, around 155-145 million years ago. Diplodocus was one of the longest dinosaurs to ever roam the earth, with some individuals reaching up to 90 feet long!
The first Diplodocus skeleton was discovered in 1877 by S.W. Williston, a fossil hunter working for legendary paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh.
Marsh was one of the most famous scientists of his time and had a fierce rivalry with fellow paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. The discovery of Diplodocus was seen as a major coup for Marsh, who used it to further cement his status as one of the leading figures in American science.
The Diplodocus skeleton at the Natural History Museum is actually a cast of an original specimen that was excavated in Wyoming in 1898. The cast was created by Andrew Carnegie, who commissioned several copies to be made and distributed to museums across Europe and North America.
The process of creating a cast involved making molds of each individual bone and then using those molds to create plaster casts. These casts were then assembled into an approximation of what the original dinosaur would have looked like.
The Diplodocus skeleton at the Natural History Museum has become an iconic symbol not just of the museum itself but also of natural history museums more broadly. Its enormous size and impressive appearance make it an awe-inspiring sight for visitors young and old.
Beyond its visual impact, the Diplodocus skeleton is also significant for what it represents scientifically. Diplodocus was one of the first dinosaurs to be extensively studied by scientists and was instrumental in helping to establish many of the key features of dinosaur anatomy and behavior.
So, there you have it – the dinosaur at the entrance of the Natural History Museum is a Diplodocus, an iconic dinosaur that has captured the imagination of people around the world. Whether you’re a seasoned paleontology enthusiast or just someone looking for a fun day out, be sure to stop and take a look at this incredible exhibit next time you’re at the museum!