Museum's Blue Whale Skeleton Found To Be A "Time Capsule" From 1930s

Artist's impression of museum's entrance in the summer of 2017 © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Visitors to London’s Natural History Museum will soon be greeted by the sight of a blue whale skeleton in the entrance hall. While preparing the vast skeleton for its big journey (down a few corridors from another hall in the museum), conservators managed to find an unlikely "time capsule" stuffed in between the whale's bones.

In 2015, they discovered that the intervertebral discs of the 25-meter (82-foot) whale skeleton had been stuffed with newspapers from the 1930s. The museum received the whale in 1892, but only in 1934 did they decide to put up the specimen – after all, it is the largest species that’s ever lived on Earth. However, they found that the cartilage discs in between its vertebrae had deteriorated over time. To combat this, they replaced it with wooden blocks, lined with plaster and stuffed with newspaper.

Historians and curators at the museum are now busy scouring through these newspapers, including the Kent Messenger, Evening News, St Pancras Gazette, and Evening Standard, in the hopes of finding even more small pieces of intrigue. You can watch a short film about this process below.

The blue whale will reside in the main entrance hall from summer 2017 onwards. The whale will replace the much-loved “Dippy” the Diplodocus, much to the dismay of former school kids across the UK, half of whom undoubtedly went on a field day to the museum at some point in their life.

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