Sternberg Dinosaurs scheduled to undergo surgery

It's not your routine appendectomy or tonsillectomy. No. The dinosaurs at the Fort Hays State University Sternberg Museum of Natural History are getting a complete overhaul.

After four years of continuous movement, the robotic dinosaurs are in need of some maintenance.

"Just like any machine, parts wear out over time," said Dr. Jerry Choate, director of the Sternberg Museum. "It is time to get inside the dinosaurs and give them an overhaul."

Since the museum re-opened in 1999, almost 400,000 people have walked among the life-sized dinosaurs, getting a sense of what life was like for the giants of the past.

The first procedure of the surgery involves removing the flexible silicon skin that covers the moving parts. By removing this outer layer the surgeons can then reach the mechanical parts that need to be worked on.

"We knew we had troubles with the models for a while, so we have been slowly limiting the motions the robots go through to help them make it through the summer tourism season," said Choate. "Now we have a window of time to tear into them and get them fixed."

It is unknown how long the reconstructive surgery will take, but it could be a month or more depending on what is found to be wrong.

Unlike most surgeries, the public is invited to observe the entire surgery in process. Museum staff is making an effort to allow the public to get within a safe distance of the work for viewing.

"I think many people will be interested in what is inside the models and how we have to go about working on them," said Choate. "It is not everyday you get to skin a dinosaur to do surgery on it!"

For more information about the dinosaurs or museum hours, contact the Sternberg Museum toll free at 1-877-332-1165 or visit the Web site at

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