Dippy the diplodocus, which greets visitors to the Natural History Museum is to be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale as part of a major transformation of the attraction's entrance hall.
A decision on what will happen with the plaster cast model of the diplodocus skeleton has not yet been made, although it is likely to go on tour so it can be seen by a wide variety of people.
Because swapping a dinosaur for a blue whale isn't easy, the move won't be complete until 2017.
The change is part of a plan to bring the museum's focus on its role as one of the greatest scientific resources for understanding the natural world, into sharp relief.
Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “As the largest known animal to have ever lived on Earth, the story of the blue whale reminds us of the scale of our responsibility to the planet. This makes it the perfect choice of specimen to welcome and capture the imagination of our visitors.
“This is an important and necessary change. As guardians of one of the world’s greatest scientific resources, our purpose is to challenge the way people think about the natural world, and that goal has never been more urgent. The very resources on which modern society relies are under threat. Species and ecosystems are being destroyed faster than we can describe them or even understand their significance. The blue whale serves as a poignant reminder that while abundance is no guarantee of survival, through our choices, we can make a real difference. There is hope.”
Although it seems like Dippy has been welcoming visitors since the museum first opened, it has only been in place since the 1970s. Previously the Great Hall has featured a sperm whale skeleton in 1901, and for most of the 20th century, it was African elephants which wowed the crowds.