A 3D model of Hope the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus.
The original 25.2-metre-long blue whale skeleton is suspended from the ceiling of the Natural History Museum's Hintze Hall.
The blue whale is the largest creature ever to have lived.
The skeleton is from a whale that became stranded in 1891 in Wexford Harbour, Ireland, 10 years after the Museum opened in South Kensington. It was bought by the Museum and first displayed in the Mammal Hall in 1934, where it was suspended above a life-size model of a blue whale, though it was not in full view.
The Museum named the female blue whale Hope as a symbol of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future. Blue whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the twentieth century, but were also one of the first species that humans decided to save on a global scale.
Back from the brink of extinction
In the 1800s there were an estimated 250,000 blue whales across the world's oceans. Decades of commercial hunting drove the species to the brink of extinction, with only around 400 thought to be left in 1966.
That year, in London, the world took a remarkable decision to legally protect blue whales from commercial hunting. Since then the population of blue whales has steadily grown to its current level of around 20,000.
Giants of the ocean
Richard Sabin, the Museum's leading whale expert, says: 'Whales are incredibly mysterious and behaviourally complex creatures, as well as being the giants of the ocean. I remember visiting the Museum as a child and being amazed when I came face-to-face with the blue whale skeleton.
'It is impossible not to be struck by the sheer scale and majesty of this beautiful creature as she dives towards you when you enter the Museum.
'My first encounter with the blue whale skeleton became a defining moment in my life, and I am sure Hope will inspire a new generation of visitors.'
A challenging conservation effort
Lorraine Cornish, the Museum's Head of Conservation, says: 'Hope is the only blue whale skeleton in the world to be hung in the diving lunge feeding position.
‘Suspending such a large, complex and historical specimen from a Victorian ceiling was always going to be challenging, but we were determined to show her in as lifelike position as possible and we are thrilled that the result is truly spectacular.'