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Natural History Museum's Dippy the Diplodocus to be moved out and forced to retire

Dippy the Diplodocus is being moved out of the Natural History Museum's main hall and forced to retire.

The plaster dinosaur skeleton, which has inspired generations of schoolchildren at the London museum for 109 years, is not considered relevant enough to what is happening to the natural world today.

Credit: PA

From summer 2017, he will be replaced by the 83 foot long real skeleton of a blue whale, suspended and diving from the ceiling.

The whale, previously the centrepiece of the Mammal Hall, is said to serve as a potent symbol of both environmental destruction and hope for the future.

Credit: PA

There are plans to preserve Dippy at least for a while, possibly by sending him on a tour of the UK.

Despite his realistic appearance, Dippy is a fake - an exact plaster cast copy of an 85 foot long diplodocus, a giant four-legged sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America 150 million years ago.

Credit: PA

Originally installed in the Reptile Gallery in 1905, he was taken apart and stored in the Natural History Museum's basement to avoid damage during the Blitz.

In 1979, he was rebuilt and given pride of place in the central hall.

For the last 35 years, Dippy has greeted visitors filing through the museum's main entrance.

Credit: PA

As the largest known animal to have ever lived on Earth, the story of the blue whale reminds us of the scale of our responsibility to the planet. This makes it the perfect choice of specimen to welcome and capture the imagination of our visitors, as well as marking a major transformation of the Museum. This is an important and necessary change. As guardians of one of the world's greatest scientific resources, our purpose is to challenge the way people think about the natural world, and that goal has never been more urgent.

The very resources on which modern society relies are under threat.

Species and ecosystems are being destroyed faster than we can describe them or even understand their significance.

The blue whale serves as a poignant reminder that while abundance is no guarantee of survival, through our choices, we can make a real difference.

There is hope.

– Sir Michael Dixon, Natural History Museum