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  • There’s a dinosaur in departures

    Dinosaur in departures

    There’s a dinosaur in departures at Heathrow

    Benito De Rosa

    Dinosaur unearthed in Terminal 5

    There’s a 13-metre dinosaur skeleton towering over check-in at Heathrow Terminal 5. If you are traveling through between 3rd April and 3rd June, come and say hello to “Skinny”!

    Skinny is the (real) 155m-year-old skeleton of a plant-eating Diplodocus.

    He’ll stay on display at Heathrow for two months before heading off to be sold in June. French auction house Aguttes expects the enormous fossil to fetch £2 million.

    Gigantic appetite

    Diplodocus had a characteristic 7m-long neck, counterbalanced by a correspondingly long tail. Its front legs were longer than its hind legs and its head rather tiny, with the nostrils positioned unusually on top.

    This gentle giant was a herbivore but, despite having a good set of teeth, it would swallow leaves whole. That meant it had to swallow stones to help break down the tough leaves in its stomach.

    Diplodocus lived at the end of the Jurassic Period and most likely originated from what is now North America. Its nemesis was the deadly Torvosaurus, a 10m-long predator with 10cm teeth.

    Newly discovered

    Skinny’s skeleton was unearthed in 2018 and the excavation continued well into this year. Remarkably, hundreds of millions of years later there are still traces of skin on its body – an extremely rare feature which makes this specimen unique.

    Archaeologist Eric Mickeler, who is advising the auctioneers, says the sheer size of dinosaurs like Skinny gives them an enduring fascination for collectors.

    “Buyers look for big, impressive, aesthetically attractive and well-preserved examples.

    “This original skeleton is remarkable. It is currently the only Diplodocus in the world with the imprint of its skin, and therefore a world first. “

    A labour of love

    Skinny’s skeleton has been lovingly pieced together and the bones held in place with stainless steel.

    That isn’t just because it looks good. It also means the prehistoric creature can be repositioned to create dynamic shapes that suit its surroundings – be that a museum or a busy airport terminal.

    Not going to be flying through Terminal 5? Well, enjoy the video at the top of this post.

    But we’ll have plenty more events, exhibitions and activities for you to enjoy throughout the year. Check the events page on Heathrow.com to find out what’s on when you travel.