FHSU Centennial -- and dinosaurs! -- give a new twist to traditional Valentine's Day event in state Capitol

HAYS, KS -- Representatives from Fort Hays State University -- including students and the president, Dr. Edward H. Hammond -- will visit the state Capitol in Topeka on Valentine's Day to hand out heart buttons emblazoned with the university's Centennial seal.

Hammond arrived at FHSU in 1987 and started the tradition a couple years later of taking "heart" buttons to Kansas legislators and their secretaries each Valentine's Day. The first button had one heart and carried the slogan, "My Heart Belongs to Western Kansas." Each year since then, a different slogan has been used and another heart has been added. Because 2002 is the university's 100th year, this year's button forgoes the slogan and displays a circle of 14 red hearts surrounding the Centennial seal.

Just like a year ago, the FHSU delegation will use the traditional Valentine's Day event to promote an extraordinary exhibit at its Sternberg Museum of Natural History -- "Jurassic Park: The Life and Death of Dinosaurs." Along with the Centennial heart button, FHSU representatives will hand out special Pepsi cans that promote the "Jurassic Park" exhibit.

Last year, "A T.Rex Named Sue" drew more than 100,000 visitors to the Sternberg Museum during the two months it was on display. The "Jurassic Park" exhibit opened two weeks ago and will remain at the Sternberg Museum until May 5.

Like "Sue," the "Jurassic Park" visit to the Sternberg Museum represents an unusual opportunity for the people of Kansas and adjacent states. The tours of both exhibits have been limited to major U.S. cities with the exception of Hays, with a population of just 20,000. Because of its reputation for world-class holdings, the Sternberg Museum is able to attract these kinds of major exhibits. Hays is the only city in the middle of the United States that will host the "Jurassic Park" exhibit. Its closest stops have been Cincinnati to the east and Phoenix to the west, and the next scheduled sites are in Hawaii and Alabama.

Tickets are available by calling, toll free, 1-877-332-1165. A Web site has also been established for information and online ticket purchasing at www.jparkdinos.com. Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $4 for children and senior citizens. Tickets will be $7 and $5 at the door.

The exhibit features a full-mount fossil cast of Giganotosaurus (GIG-a-NO-to-SAW-rus), a new species discovered in Patagonia, Argentina, in 1993. It is larger than the largest Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

The original fossil, more than 80-percent complete, is in the Museo Carmen Funes in Plaza Huincul, Argentina. The cast made from that skeleton made its public debut at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA, in 1997.

The traveling exhibit built around Giganotosaurus is the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons currently traveling the United States, including several newly found species never before seen in North America. Included are a dozen other mounted skeletons, a dozen "fleshed out sculptures" of species and also props and sculptures from the movies Jurassic Park and Lost World.

"Jurassic Park: The Life and Death of Dinosaurs," developed by Don Lessem, is a production of Amblin Entertainment, Universal Studios and MCA/Universal Merchandising Inc.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu