Dippy and the whale: the politics of dinosaur bones

William JordanUS Elections Editor
February 06, 2015, 3:03 PM GMT+0

Conservatives and young people want a whale in the Natural History Museum lobby, while UKIP voters and middle-aged people want to keep Dippy intact

First extinction, and now this. The Natural History Museum recently announced that the diplodocus skeleton cast that has resided in the lobby will soon be replaced with the real skeleton of a blue whale, the world’s largest mammal.

A new YouGov poll finds that the British public are evenly divided on the decision to replace Dippy, as the diplodocus is known. 35% back the decision to replace the diplodocus skeleton with a blue whale skeleton, while 34% wish the museum would keep the dinosaur in place. A roughly equal number (31%) don’t know where they stand.

Dippy has resided in the main lobby for 35 years and been featured in many films, including the latest Night At the Museum sequel. Museum curators hope the new arrangement will help bring attention to species threatened by extinction today. Soviet whalers nearly wiped out the blue whale completely, but the species has made an encouraging recovery in recent years.

An artist's rendering of how the blue whale will look in its new home. (Photograph: Casson Mann//Natural History Museum)

Beyond the headline numbers, there are some unexpected differences in opinion about replacing Dippy.

For instance, while Conservative voters fall into the blue whale camp (by 45 to 32), while UKIP voters lean heavily in favour of the dinosaur (by 47 to 26). Labour and Lib Dem voters are more evenly divided.

There is also a peculiar asymmetry when it comes to age. Adults ages 60 and up and those 25 to 39 don’t strongly lean either direction. Yet 18 to 24 year-olds favour replacing Dippy by 35 to 22 and adults in their middle-ages (40-59) want Dippy kept intact by 40 to 31.

PA image

See the full poll results

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