AT the heart of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, a mesmerising whirl of activity is unfolding. Crates are being wheeled in, scaffolding erected and detailed plans studied as 292 bone-shaped pieces are carefully unpacked in preparation for being painstakingly pieced together.

From the balcony above, the scene resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle as a team of specialists knuckle down to the task at hand. Over the course of a week, the intricate structure slowly takes shape until finally it stands resplendent: Dippy the dinosaur is ready to be adored.

The famous diplodocus will be at Kelvingrove in Glasgow until May, a skeleton cast on loan from the Natural History Museum in London. It's the only Scottish stop on a UK-wide tour.

Diplodocus carnegii is named after Andrew Carnegie, the Dunfermline-born steel magnate and philanthropist who financed the excavation of the dinosaur's fossilised bones in Wyoming in 1899. It became a centrepiece for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In the early 1900s, Carnegie created 10 casts from the original and bequeathed them to museums worldwide, including ones in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Munich and London, where it took its home at the Natural History Museum.

King Edward VII happened to see a sketch of the dinosaur while visiting Carnegie at Skibo Castle near Dornoch, Sutherland, which led to the London commission. Nicknamed Dippy, it was unveiled in 1905, hailed by the press as a "colossal stranger" and "the greatest animal that ever lived".

Ann Ainsworth, curator of geology at Glasgow Museums, is part of the team that has welcomed Dippy to Kelvingrove. She says that it is only when you see the dinosaur up close, that you can begin to appreciate the sheer size and scale.

"It is incredibly exciting," she says. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a fully mounted [dinosaur] skeleton in our galleries."

Dippy is thought to have lived between 156 and 145 million years ago – it would have weighed around 13 tonnes.

The cast measures 21.3 metres (70 feet) long, 4.3m (14.10ft) wide and 4.25m (13.94ft) high. Compared to the rest of the body, Dippy's skull is tiny: just 50 centimetres (19.7 inches) long and 25cm (9.8in) wide with a snout and blunt, pencil-like teeth.

The bones of Dippy's neck – seven metres (23ft) in total – gradually increase in size towards the shoulders, where the largest is more than half a metre (1.6ft) long and half a metre (1.6ft) wide. Its biggest ribs, meanwhile, are 10cm (3.9in) wide and almost two metres (6.6ft) long.

When on display, Dippy's right front leg is positioned slightly further forward than the left. According to the Natural History Museum, the dinosaur would have walked on fingers and toes. Dippy's rear legs are even larger: each thigh bone is one-and-a-half-metres (4.9ft) long.

Mirroring the neck, Dippy's tail curves another seven metres (23ft) backwards. Scientists believe it might have been used to make a noise like a whip as a defence against predators.

Interestingly, Dippy's tail has a series of coat hanger-shaped bones hanging at regular intervals, designed to support and protect the blood vessels. Their distinct shape is what gives the species – diplodocus – its name, meaning "double-beamed".

The colour of a fossil typically depends on what minerals replace the bone over time. The original excavated skeleton looks dark brown, so Dippy was painted in a similar shade.

Dr Neil Clark, curator of palaeontology at the Hunterian in Glasgow University, is delighted to see Dippy arrive in Scotland.

"Andrew Carnegie was originally from Scotland and this is a dinosaur that was named after a Scotsman," he says. "Carnegie had the cast made for the British people so it is nice that it is finally going on tour and that everyone will have the opportunity to see it."

It may be a replica rather than real bones, yet this matters not a jot, insists Clark. "Being a cast doesn't mean that it is a fake," he says. "It is quite a precise copy of the bones and people will see the actual size of the skeleton."

Clark, who is also president of the Geological Society of Glasgow, is looking forward to seeing it capture the public's imagination and shine a spotlight on Scotland's rich fossil heritage.

"Everybody loves a good dinosaur story and I hope that we can let people know a lot more about our Scottish links with dinosaurs," he says.

Fossils from the Middle Jurassic period, roughly 174 million to 163 million years ago, are extremely rare and Skye is one of the few places in the world where they can be found.

Over the past three decades Clark has been a regular visitor to Skye, which has earned a reputation as Scotland's dinosaur isle. He is a member of the PalAlba collaboration made up of palaeontologists, geoscientists and other related experts in this field.

"Dinosaurs in Scotland are very important worldwide," he says. "A lot of people may not realise how important they are. The dinosaurs in Scotland are from a time period from which very few dinosaurs are known. They are also at a time when dinosaurs diversify greatly.

"It is a very important time period: the Middle Jurassic. Even in North America there are no dinosaur bones known from that time period."

Scotland's first dinosaur remains – a single footprint – were discovered on the Trotternish peninsula by Dr Julian Andrews and Professor John Hudson in 1982. The 49cm (19in) print is believed to have been made by an iguanodon-like ornithopod.

A decade passed before the next discovery. Then they came thick and fast. In 1992, German collector Matthias Metz discovered a small fossilised partial tibia of a bipedal theropod near Elgol in the south of Skye.

Around the same time, Lachlan Scott-Moncrieff found a fragment of bone near his home in Staffin that turned out to be from a sauropod – four-legged, herbivorous dinosaurs.

BP geologists Dr Doug Boyd and Dr John Dixon came across a more substantial sauropod bone on the foreshore at Valtos near Staffin in 1993.

There have been bones broken too – certainly for Clark, who fractured his leg soon after discovering Skye's second ever set of footprints in 1996.

He had gathered a team to remove the prints from a limestone block at Port Earlish when disaster struck. Vibrations from a pneumatic drill shattered Clark's tibia and fibula in multiple places requiring him to be airlifted from the beach by helicopter and rushed for emergency surgery.

Yet, it didn't put him off. A few months later Clark returned to Skye – on crutches – to lead a group of geologists and there, he found a tailbone of a theropod dinosaur. "I have mixed feelings about that year," he laughs.

In 2002, Clark alongside Dugald Ross, who owns the Staffin Dinosaur Museum, and hotelier Paul Booth, discovered a trackway of 15 to 20 footprints at An Corran beach. The three-toed impressions are thought to have been made by a family of megalosaurus 165 million years ago.

Another of Clark's most prized Skye specimens has pride of place in the Hunterian: the world's smallest dinosaur footprint. Believed to belong to a theropod, the 1.78cm (0.7in) print is similar in size to that of a blackbird. He also found the first theropod tooth on Skye at Valtos in 2008.

More recently, Clark uncovered the first evidence that dinosaurs walked on the Scottish mainland. That discovery happened last March while he was retracing the steps of his great, great grandfather, who had been part of the Scottish Gold Rush in 1869.

Walking along the coastline north of Inverness, Clark spotted raised footprints that he believes belonged to a sauropod. He has since returned in the hope of beginning more detailed research but found his plans temporarily thwarted by thick seaweed. Clark hopes to revisit the site this summer.

Next month he will be hosting a "Rock Doctors" fossil-themed workshop as part of a programme of events and activities being run by Glasgow Museums to mark Dippy's stay at Kelvingrove.

There will be another important visitor too: a Tyrannosaurus Rex will go on show at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow this April. The 66-million-year-old skeleton – known as Trix – is on loan from the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden, Netherlands.

Dating back to the Cretaceous period, the dinosaur was excavated in Montana in 2013. Trix – named after the former Dutch queen Beatrix – is one of only three complete T. rex skeletons known to exist anywhere in the world.

The exhibition is being co-organised by the Hunterian and Glasgow Museums. "It will be the first time I have seen a complete mounted skeleton of a T. rex. I have seen bits and pieces of T. rex before, but I haven't seen a complete reconstructed one," says Clark.

"The other interesting thing is that the little vertebrae I found back in 1996 may be from a primitive tyrannosaur. It may be that Scotland is the birthplace of the tyrannosaur."

Dippy On Tour: A Natural History Adventure is at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow until May 6.

T. rex in Town opens at Kelvin Hall on April 18 and runs until July 31. Visit