Released: May 24, 1999
Centre College opens natural history museum
DANVILLE, KY- Centre College is set to open a natural history museum complete with dinosaur eggs, rocks that glow in the dark and fossilized skeletons of prehistoric animals.
Mike Barton, a Centre biology professor who is coordinating the museum, says Centre students and visiting groups from local schools will have access to a remarkable fossil collection and display of minerals and gemstones, thanks to loans from two local families.
Jack Hankla, a Danville dentist, and his son, John, a senior at Danville High School, have one of the country's premier private collections of fossils and will loan items to the museum on a rotating basis. Danny Settles, owner of Settles Backhoe, and his father, Kirtley, have an extensive mineral collection and will loan minerals and gemstones on a rotating basis.
Among the items currently displayed from the Hanklas' fossil collection: an entire nest of eggs from a dinosaur known as the hadrosaur, the skeleton of a saber-tooth tiger and a one-foot long egg of the elephant bird, which lived 1.5 million years ago.
The Settles' mineral collection draws exclamations of delight when the museum lights are turned off to reveal display cases full of glowing reds and purples. Danny Settles says those are the naturally fluorescent colors of minerals that can be found worldwide. The Settles' display in the museum also includes a strikingly beautiful 36-inch chunk of Brazilian amethyst.
The Hanklas began collecting dinosaur fossils about a decade ago after John's Montesori class did a study unit on dinosaurs. "Both John and I found it all so interesting that we decided to go watch a dig for fossils out west," says Jack Hankla, "and once we got there, we couldn't resist the urge to join in." Since then, the Hanklas have made at least one digging trip each year, and they even purchased their own plot of land in Wyoming which they use strictly for excavating.
The Settles have made rock-collecting a family affair, too. Danny's brother, Sam, now deceased, was a geologist who shared his love of rocks and minerals with the rest of the family. The backhoe business gives Danny frequent opportunities to see rock that has been covered by earth for thousands or millions of years, and he has developed a keen eye for unusual formations. Danny and Kirtley take special pride in the rocks they have collected in Kentucky, and they affectionately refer to particular creek beds or quarries where they have made unusual finds.
Barton says the items provided by the Hanklas and Settles will serve as an excellent resource for Centre students in classes that deal with evolutionary biology, anthropology and other aspects of natural history. The college has added its own collection to the museum space, including preserved specimens of snakes, fish and a variety of other reptiles and amphibians.
The museum, which is located in the basement of Young Hall, will be open to visitors by appointment at no cost. The space is best suited to small groups. Interested persons may call Barton at 606-238-5320.
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600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422
Coordinator of Public Information: Patsi Barnes Trollinger
Telephone 606-238-5719 · email@example.com