'Masters of the Night' exhibit opens at Sternberg Museum of Natural History on Jan. 18

"Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats" opens at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum on Jan. 18, 2003. "Masters of the Night" turns the myths about bats upside-down.

The exhibition dispels popular misconceptions about bats, describes their ecological importance, and gives visitors an appreciation of the true wonders of the bat world. The exhibition highlights one of the strengths of the Sternberg Museum's research program.

"I have studied bats for many years, and had numerous graduate students work on them as well," said Dr. Jerry Choate, museum director.

"The Sternberg Museum has a scientifically important collection of bats from the United States, and a basic representation of bats from Mexico."

The exhibition features many scene-setting features to help visitors understand the world of bats, both in myth and in truth.

Bats often are associated with Gothic themes, and a Neo-Gothic portal guides visitors into the exhibit. Visitors learn about mythic representations of bats through the centuries by many different cultures.

Other educational elements include a video and many hands-on interactives, helping to teach visitors the importance of these little-known animals of the natural world. For example, in a demonstration of echolocation (the sonar used by bats to find their way in the dark), visitors can use a joystick to maneuver a bat model in search of food using a laser to simulate sonar.

Other subjects addressed are flight and diet.

"Bats are the only flying mammals, and they have a greater range of specializations in their feeding habits than any other group of animals," Choate said.

"Bats are actually one of the most diverse groups of mammals, making up almost one third of all mammal species," Choate said. "They are really beneficial. In addition to eating insect pests, bats are important pollinators of crop plants and help to reseed rain forests that have been destroyed."

The exhibition runs through Sept. 7, 2003. Sternberg Museum hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-7 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays. For more information or to make a group or school reservation, visit the museum's Web page at www.fhsu.edu/sternberg, or call Reservations Manager Mark Kellerman, toll free at 1-877-332-1165.

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