The news from the Natural History Museum this week was that the famous Dippy the entrance hall Diplodocus skeleton was to be retired. #savedippy quickly appeared on Twitter and e-petitions popped up asking for your support to save the last Diplodocus of London. Whilst I will always fondly remember seeing Dippy, both as a wide-eyed child and as a researcher on my way to the collections, I understand and support the museums plan. This plan involves replacing Dippy with a majestic Blue Whale skeleton. Dippy will either be moved to another hall at the museum, exhibited outside or potentially go on a world tour, but his replacement will be just as awe-inspiring.
I have never seen a Blue Whale in the wild, but considering it is the largest animal to have ever lived, the new exhibit will be spectacular. Not only will the scale of the exhibit be important, but the message conveyed. Whales are on the brink of extinction, centuries of targeted hunting, disrupted ecosystems, pollution, sonar and climate change all threaten to remove one of evolution's most spectacular productions. Education will always be one of the greatest tools in changing societies and the Natural History Museum educates millions of visitors every year.
Whilst we could save Dippy, I personally look forward to seeing it in its new home, the prospect of the entrance hall being filled by a Blue Whale skeleton is exciting (not only for the new selfie opportunities!). We need to remember that the wildlife we share the planet with is just as spectacular and wierd as all that has gone extinct. Or put another way: the museum are going to erect a 30 metre long skeleton of a hippo-relative that lost its legs and feeds entirely on crustaceans no bigger than 5 cm long. Bizarre! #savethewhales
More excellent pieces on this story:
There is increasing evidence that the distributions of a large number of species are shifting with global climate change as they track changing surface temperatures that define their thermal niche. Modelling efforts to predict species distributions under future climates have increased with concern about the overall impact of these distribution shifts on species ecology, and especially where barriers to dispersal exist.