A 70ft dinosaur skeleton called Dippy will be visiting the south coast as it begins its nationwide tour.
The plaster-cast diplodocus replica has lived in London’s Natural History Museum since 1905, but from next year will be replaced with the real skeleton of a blue whale.
Following a social media campaign, using the hashtag #SaveDippy, and a petition signed by more than 32,000, the museum has agreed to take him around the country on a nationwide tour.
The tour, to start in 2018, will begin at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester in February, which has a gallery dedicated to Britain’s fossil-rich Jurassic Coast.
In chronological order, Dippy will then travel to Birmingham Museum, Ulster Museum, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Great North Museum, Newcastle, the National Assembly of Wales, Number One Riverside, Rochdale, and Norwich Cathedral.
Dr Jon Murden, director of the Dorset County Museum, said he was ‘excited’ at the prospect of Dippy’s visit.
He added: ‘As the birthplace of palaeontology, there is nowhere in the UK more appropriate for Dippy to start the tour than Dorset, and we’re thrilled to have been chosen as the first host venue.’
Dippy will spend at least four to six months at each location because he will have to be taken apart and reconstructed at every stop on the tour. A total of 1.5 million people are expected to see him.
The replica dinosaur was cast from original fossil bones discovered in the US in 1898. He came to the Natural History Museum in 1905 and was moved to the central hall in 1979.
The tour is part-funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation which provides grants to a wide range of charities and causes.
It is not the first time people in Portsmouth have been able to get up close to a prehistoric model.
A 53ft steel and hard polyester ultrasaurus model arrived in Southsea in August 2010 but was destroyed by fire just two months later.