Mu­seum’s di­nosaur dis­man­tling proves a real bone of con­tention

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

LON­DON — “Hope” the blue whale took over as the cen­ter­piece of the re­vamped atrium of Lon­don’s Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum on Thurs­day de­spite a spir­ited cam­paign to keep its much-loved pre­de­ces­sor, “Dippy” the di­nosaur.

The towering replica diplodocus skele­ton had been in the mu­seum for more than 100 years and news of its im­pend­ing demise in 2015 sparked an out­cry from di­nosaur fans.

Some 14,000 peo­ple signed a pe­ti­tion on Twit­ter to stop the move.

But the mu­seum said the skele­ton of the blue whale, the largest an­i­mal to have lived on Earth and which has been hunted to near ex­tinc­tion, would bet­ter raise aware­ness of mankind’s im­pact on na­ture.

The 25.2-me­ter real skele­ton sus­pended from the ceil­ing is proof that “by us­ing sci­ence and ev­i­dence, we can make good choices about the fu­ture, about sus­tain­abil­ity,” said mu­seum di­rec­tor Michael Dixon.

Richard Sabin, the mu­seum’s lead­ing whale ex­pert, said ex­hibit­ing Hope in the atrium also showed that the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum was “a mu­seum of the fu­ture, a rel­e­vant mu­seum that can be used to have de­bates, to an­swer those big ques­tions in so­ci­ety”.

Cen­ter stage

The whale was pre­vi­ously in the mam­mals sec­tion but was not fully in view and will now take cen­ter stage in the div­ing lunge feed­ing po­si­tion in Hintze Hall, a cathe­dral­like space built in the late 19th cen­tury.

Fans of “Dippy” need not de­spair as the replica di­nosaur will be pre­served for pos­ter­ity in a bronze cast to be placed out­side the mu­seum.

There were es­ti­mated to be around 250,000 blue whales in the world’s oceans in the 1800s but com­mer­cial hunt­ing brought the species to the brink of ex­tinc­tion in the 1960s with just 400 spec­i­mens left.

Le­gal pro­tec­tion from hunt­ing has since seen their lev­els rise up to around 20,000 now.

The skele­ton on dis­play is of a whale that be­came stranded in Wex­ford Har­bour in Ire­land in 1891, 10 years af­ter the open­ing of the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum.

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