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Doug Koch/University Relations

This mural in KU's Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, shows a mososaur, often referred to as the "T-Rex" of the sea, battling a giant squid. The mososaur and other creatures that inhabited the ocean that covered Kansas millions of years ago, are the stars of the new film "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure." KU paleontologists consulted with filmmakers on several aspects of the movie.

Monster movie

KU plays role in film about sea creatures

It's well known that dinosaurs ruled the land 100 million years ago. But many people are unacquainted with the enormous reptiles, toothy fish and sharks that dominated the inland sea that covered what now is Kansas.

At KU and across the nation, these fierce undersea creatures are receiving renewed attention thanks to a National Geographic Society film with ties to KU and Kansas.

"Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure" weaves together a marine fossil mystery with breathtaking animated sequences that bring Kansas' ancient sea animals to life. The 3-D film premiered at IMAX, REAL-D and other specialty theaters nationwide Oct. 5.

David McKinney/University Relations

Larry Martin, professor and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, displays one of the museum's fossils of a sea-dwelling creature. Martin was a consultant for the new movie "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure."

Larry Martin, professor and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum, consulted with filmmakers on aspects of the animation.

"Kansas is the ideal place to base a film about the discoveries of ancient marine animals," Martin said. "The state has one of the richest fossil records from the Cretaceous era, which spanned from about 140 million to 65 million years ago."

The film follows a family of Dolichorhynchops, known informally as "Dollies," as they encounter marine animals such as Platecarpus, which swallowed their prey whole like snakes; the long-necked plesiosaur, Styxosaurus; and the enormous Tylosaurus.

The film also puts a spotlight on Hesperornis, a prehistoric swimming bird with teeth.

Martin studied early versions of the animated sequences of Hesperornis and lent the film's producers his expertise to make these segments true to the way the creature likely moved. He has more than 40 years of experience studying the bird.

Amid its vast research collection of marine life specimens, KU has the world's largest collection of Hesperornis fossil remains.

The Natural History Museum contains a treasure trove of example specimens of animals shown in the new film, including the Styxosaurus, the toothy Xiphactinus and a Tylosaurus discovered by a KU researcher in 1911. A cast of that specimen - one of the largest ever found - lurks over the lobby of the museum and will be enhanced by new exhibit materials.

Tony Award-winning actor Liev Schreiber narrated the film; Richard Evans, David Rhodes and Peter Gabriel composed an original score. For more information about the motion picture, tickets, showtimes and educational activities, visit www.national geographic.com/seamonsters.

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