The dry, flat western Kansas that some people are used to will be portrayed in a different light in the upcoming Imax movie "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure." The movie, produced by National Geographic, will be released in October and is about mosasaurs, giant marine reptiles that existed in western Kansas 100 million years ago.
Mike Everhart, curator of paleontology at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, played a major part in the research for the movie. He was also on site during the movie's filming, most of which took place in Gove and Trego counties.
The movie follows a group of paleontologists as they solve an 82-million-year-old mystery. It stars an adventurous Dolichorhynchops, a giant sea lizard that can grow up to 30 feet long, named Dolly, as she travels through life stages, experiencing the world from her spot near the bottom of the food chain.
"People who are familiar with that part of western Kansas will most likely recognize much of the movie," said Everhart. "A majority of the fossils you will see in the movie come from Kansas, and many of them were found by Charlie and George Sternberg themselves."
Everhart will also release a book by the same name, "Sea Monsters," to accompany the movie. The book, which will be released in October, is his second on the subject. The first, "Oceans of Kansas," was published in 2005 and was the inspiration for his award-winning Web site, www.oceansofkansas.com.
Although it has been millions of years since these animals have existed in Kansas, Everhart and others are still finding fossils every year at sites in western Kansas.
Because it plays such an important role in the research of these animals, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History will host the second international meeting of scientists who study mosasaurs in May. Scientists from all over the globe will attend. They will participate in three days of sharing information and presentations. On the fourth day they will travel to a geological site in Gove County.
For more information on the movie, visit the National Geographic Web site at www.nationalgeographic.com.