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Why The Natural Science Museum Is Taking Down Its Signature Dinosaur

The Houston Museum of Natural Science this week is moving its signature dinosaur fossil out of its lobby. "Dipsy" has greeted museum visitors for almost 40 years.


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It’s Houston’s first dinosaur.

The museum’s own diplodocus, or “Dipsy,” as the fossil is known by staff, has been at its place in the lobby of the permanent exhibit section since 1975.

Through Friday, the structure is being disassembled.

David Temple is the associate curator of paleontology at the museum. He says the museum’s other large dinosaur is only on loan and will have to be returned eventually.

“It’s a different species, it’s a diplodocus longus and it’s actually a later Jurassic example. But at some point we knew that we were going to have to move our hayi, our early diplodocus, Houston’s first dinosaur in with the other paleo hall.”

He says in the beginning, Dipsy was the museum’s only dinosaur fossil but now it’s one of about 15 mounted dinos. Of those, some are originals like Dipsy and some are casts. Last year, the museum opened its new dinosaur hall, and Temple says it makes sense for Dipsy to be mounted in there.

“It’s right that this be in there, ‘cause this is our first dinosaur, it’s the city of Houston’s first dinosaur, and it’s right that it take its place of honor with the rest of the collection.”

Dipsy will take its new place in the museum’s Morian Hall of Paleontology in about a year from now. By then, the fossil will have been inventoried, cleaned and some of its bones restored by paleontologists out of state.

In the lobby, instead of Dipsy, a collection of marlins will greet visitors.