A NEW appeal for proof that Bolton Museum's 'missing' dinosaur actually existed has been issued as staff seek to settle the mystery once and for all.

Past visitors are convinced they saw a 20ft long skeleton on display at the Le Mans Crescent museum between the 1940s and 1960s - but bosses say there is no evidence it actually existed.

The age-old prehistoric puzzler was reignited earlier this month when Bolton Council revealed it had reached the conclusion that there never was a dinosaur.

The verdict came after a search of its own records and the Bolton Evening News archive failed to produce a single mention of it.

But dozens of readers have since contacted the paper to say they definitely remember seeing it.

Steve Garland, head of museums at Bolton Council, called on anyone with a photograph, book or newspaper cutting mentioning the dinosaur to come forward.

He said: "We would love to get to the bottom of this and put it to bed once and for all. People have been telling us about this dinosaur for years and even members of staff that say they can remember coming to the museum to see it - but there is no record anywhere that it actually existed.

"The dinosaur is fast becoming a legend and it is seeming more and more unlikely that we will ever find out the truth of the matter."

He also revealed that the purchase of the skeleton of the Chinese Tuojiangosaurus by the museum eight years ago had been made because of the sheer volume of people asking what had happened to the dinosaur.

Meanwhile, people who claim to have memories of it are still contacting the Bolton Evening News.

Frank Smith, of Chapletown Road, Turton, said he clearly remembered the dinosaur while working at the museum with Bolton architects Bradshaw Gass and Hope during the late 1940s.

Mr Smith, aged 85, said: "I used to walk through the museum many, many times and I can confirm it was there.

"I knew the building well during this time as my employers had been involved with building and fitting it out. There is no doubt that it was there it was about 20ft long."