-- SuperCroc, the crocodile so large that it could literally eat a dinosaur,
will make its debut at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History on Saturday, March 13. The exhibit, created by Project Exploration of
Chicago, will continue at the Sternberg Museum through Aug. 5.
Called "The Science of SuperCroc," the exhibit features the
actual 6-foot-long fossil skull of the SuperCroc; a cast of the full skeleton; a
fleshed out reconstruction of the full 40-foot-long, 10-ton crocodile; a copy
of the skull for photo opportunities; an interactive skeleton of the crocodile-mimic dinosaur, Suchomimus (pronounced
SUE-koh-MY-mus); and an
expedition tent and supplies to give a taste of what it was like to dig
SuperCroc out of the Sahara. Another half-dozen or so exhibits give the context
of SuperCroc's evolutionary family tree.
Ironically, the opening of the SuperCroc exhibit, which has
previously been seen in its entirety only in Chicago, Cincinnati and the Netherlands, occurs exactly 11 years to the
day after the grand opening of the Sternberg Museum at its present location.
The museum had been located for decades in the cramped first floor of
McCartney Hall on the FHSU campus, but it opened in the spacious and
wonderfully renovated Beach Hall adjacent to Interstate 70 on March 13, 1999.
The full SuperCroc
requires a minimum of 5,000 square feet, and the Sternberg Museum has set aside
6,500 square feet for this traveling exhibit.
The public is welcome to attend the Grand Opening ceremony,
which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in the museum lobby. Following remarks by Dr.
Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, and Dr. Reese Barrick, director of the
Sternberg Museum, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Hays Area
Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, state Sen. Janis Lee, state Rep. Dan Johnson
and state Rep. Eber Phelps.
SuperCroc's scientific name is Sarcosuchus imperator
(SAR-koh-SUE-kus IM-peer-AH-tor), which means "flesh crocodile emperor."
The first fossil was discovered by a French paleontologist during the 1940s and
'50s. Dr. Paul Sereno, founder of Project Exploration, discovered SuperCroc on
an expedition to the Sahara Desert in 2000. It took more than a year for
technicians and students to clean up the bones. SuperCroc would have weighed
more than the largest African elephant, and with only its eyes exposed above
the water, would have stealthily ambushed any but the largest of dinosaurs.
Sereno will visit Hays and give a presentation, "When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs,"
at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 17.
Gary Staab, a Hays native and award-winning paleoartist and
research associate at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature, will be in Hays
for Saturday's Grand Opening. Staab meticulously fashioned the "skin"
version of the 40-foot croc. He will conduct a hands-on activity,
"Building Dinosaurs," at 1 p.m. this Saturday at the museum. Staab will show the participants the process he uses for
sculpting dinosaurs for museums. Each child will get the chance to sculpt his
or her own dinosaur to take home. The children will work from a skeletal diagram
to build the sculpture. All materials are supplied.
Besides Fort Hays State University, the Sternberg Museum and
Project Exploration, the SuperCroc visit to Hays was possible thanks to several
sponsors: McDonald's Restaurants of Hays, Russell, WaKeeney and Colby; the Hays Convention and Visitors Center; Eagle Communications;
and Monster Energy drink. In addition, Tallgrass Beer, a product of Tallgrass
Brewing Co., a microbrewery located in Manhattan, has been named the official
beer of SuperCroc in Hays.
A Facebook page has been created to keep up with all things
SuperCroc. For updates about The
Science of SuperCroc exhibit at the Sternberg, go to the Facebook fan page and
become a fan. Just log in to your Facebook account and search for
"SuperCroc at Sternberg Museum."
Tickets to the Sternberg Museum, including SuperCroc and all
other exhibits, are $8 for adults (ages 13-59), $5 for youths (ages 4-12), $6
for seniors (ages 60 and up) and $4 for FHSU students with an ID. Hours are
currently 9 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 6 on Sunday. Summer hours
begin on Memorial Day. They are 9 to 6 Monday through Saturday and 1 to 6 on
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