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Diplodocus

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Notes

You can see this dinosaur in the Museum.

Information

Diplodocus had a long neck that it would have used to reach high and low vegetation, and to drink water. There has been some debate over how such a long neck would have been held.

Scientists now think that ligaments running from the hip to the back of the neck would have allowed Diplodocus to hold its neck in a horizontal position without using muscles. The vertebrae (back bones) are split down the middle and this space could have held ligaments like these.

As shown in our model, Diplodocus may have had narrow, pointed bony spines lining its back.

A Museum icon

In 1905 a cast of a Diplodocus skeleton was donated to the Museum by the wealthy businessman Andrew Carnegie, based on the original specimen in the Carnegie Museum in the USA.

King Edward VII had requested a copy of the newly discovered dinosaur after seeing a picture of it in Carnegie's Scottish castle. Today the cast is still on display in the Museum's Hintze Hall and is known affectionately as Dippy.

In 1993, Dippy's tail was lifted from the ground after research revealed that Diplodocus tails would have been raised high to balance the neck.

Every 2 years or so, Museum experts use specialist equipment to clean the 292 bones that make up Dippy. It takes 2 staff 2 days to clean the cast and make sure it is maintained for future generations to enjoy.

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Fact file

Pronounced
DIP-low DOCK-us
Meaning of name
double beam
Length
  26m
Height
  8m
Weight
20000kg - 25000kg
Teeth
rows of teeth like a comb
Diet
herbivorous
Food
leaves from trees and soft plants
How it moved
on 4 legs
When it lived
Late Jurassic
(155 - 145 million years ago)
Found in
USA

Taxonomic details

Taxonomy
Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Sauropoda, Eusauropoda, Neosauropoda, Diplodocoidea, Diplodocidae, Diplodocus
Named by
Marsh (1878)
Type species
longus