Did my mother walk into a dinosaur?
November 25, 2008 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Could my mother have hit her head on a dinosaur neck when I was four?

I was brought to the National History Museum in London for my fourth birthday twenty years ago. I have a strong memory of my mother not watching where she was going and hitting her head on the neck of the Brachiosaurus. When I went to the museum this year, the brachiosaur was in a position that definitely would not allow this to happen.

My question is: has the Brachiosaurus in the lobby of the national History Museum always been in the position that it's in now or could my memory be true?
posted by minifigs to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know specifically, but I would be astounded if things haven't been shifted around. That's how museums use a lot of their money, upgrading and re-positioning exhibits. It's better for business.
posted by crickets at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2008

Here is a picture of the Brachiosaurus in the London museum. And here is a picture of one in Berlin. She would have had to be pretty tall in either case.
posted by rongorongo at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: Could it have been the tail of a diplodocus skeleton?

According to this press release, the diplodocus in the Central Hall had its tail raised in the early 90s:

Dippy then returned to the Marine Reptile Hall until 1979 before being moved to its current home in the Central Hall. In 1993 the tail was lifted from its ‘traditional’ pose (dragging along the ground in a lizard-like manner) to the more dynamic raised position that can be seen today.
posted by zamboni at 8:53 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, the T Rex can have his posture changed from vertical to horizontal, why not Brachiosaurus in the opposite direction? I vaguely recall the herbiverous beasts of my youth holding their heads down rather than fully erect, but I might have been hopped up on cafeteria dino-nuggets at the time.
posted by abirae at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: In Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum, Richard Fortey writes about the reposing of the Diplodocus:
But Diplodocus has changed, albeit rather subtly. When I was a youngster, the enormously long Diplodocus tail hung down at the rear end and almost trailed along the floor, its great number of extended vertebrae supported by a series of little props. This arrangement was not popular with the warders, as unscrupulous visitors would occasionally steal the last vertebra from the end of the tail. There was even a box of "spares" to make good the work of thieves so that the full backbone was restored by the time the doors opened the following day. Visitors today will see a rather different Diplodocus: the tail is elevated like an extended whip held well above the ground, supported on a brass crutch which has been somewhat cruelly compared with those often to be found in the paintings of Salvador Dalí; now the massive beast has an altogether more vigorous stance.
posted by jamaro at 9:16 AM on November 25, 2008

2nding, jamaro. Apparently, Dinocasts offers the service of changing body positions to museums. so, it's very plausible your memory did happen as you remembered it.
posted by alice ayres at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: I heard an interview with Richard Fortey - the author of Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum - on BBC Radio Five Live (well, I listened to it via the Daily Mayo podcast) in which the altered posture of one of the large herbivores - I think it was the Brachiosaurus, but couldn't swear to it - was specifically discussed. It was apparently partly down to revised theories regarding the dinosaur's physiology, but also due to the fact that people kept stealing bits of it (no mention of hitting their heads, but clearly it used to be much closer to ground level). I don't know whether this anecdote came from the book, and I'm afraid I've deleted the podcast (as have the BBC - grrrr).
posted by kxr at 10:16 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Gyah... Or, what jamaro said.
posted by kxr at 10:17 AM on November 25, 2008

Amazingly for a species that went completely extinct millions of years ago, how dinosaurs actually live and move is still a debated topic. I still have some dinosaur books from when I was a kid (around the same time you were) and they're all described as very large sluggish animals. Some were even described as "too heavy to support their own weight" so these dinosaurs always were wading in streams, oceans, etc.

Now we have velociraptors.

It makes perfect sense to me that the skeleton would be readjusted to fit with the most current scientific theories.
posted by meowzilla at 3:31 PM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: You're all right. It was the Diplodocus. So it's entirely possible that it wasn't all a four year old's dream. Thanks everybody!
posted by minifigs at 12:34 AM on November 26, 2008

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