Kansas fossils

From Sea to Desert to Today

Jan 25, 2017
Karen Madorin, 2015

What an irony that a landscape geographers and surveyors titled The Great American Desert first existed as a series of shallow inland seas. Over several geologic periods, vast waters supported varied marine life, etched inlets and beaches, while dissolving and depositing sediment. A hike through the resulting rugged hills and canyons reveals fossils that confirm this. A view of derricks and pump jacks sucking  compressed ancient life to the surface cancels any doubt about this terrain’s origin.

Studying Great Plains geology instructs that Paleozoic and Mesozoic waters deposited the region’s shale, limestone, and sandstone foundations over a period of 480 million years. Once salt waters dried, rains fell and channeled into streams and rivers that etched that soft stone landscape. It left what writer Harry Chrisman calls a ladder of rivers and streams connecting one watershed to another.

Xing Lida / Wikimedia Commons

You may know your state flower, but do you know your state fossil? According to The Atlantic, since the 1960s, most US states have elected their own official fossils. Often, the choice comes down to a dinosaur that was discovered in the region. For example, Colorado has claimed the Stegosaurus, since the plate-backed dinosaur was first found there.

Bettman / Corbis

Dinosaurs have become an everyday part of the American imagination. From Jurassic World to The Good Dinosaur, we encounter these ancient behemoths perhaps more than we even realize. But how did this obsession come about? It happened largely thanks to the efforts of one man: Barnum Brown. Brown was born in frontier Kansas in 1873. Named after the great showman P.T. Barnum, Brown would grow up to become a master promoter in his own right.

salina.com

The High Plains has its very own Indiana Jones, and he’s alive and well, reports Salina.com. Bob Levin, a resident of Smith Center, Kansas, is an amateur paleontologist. He’s spent a lifetime hunting fossils. Over the years, he’s amassed a collection of 6,000 artifacts.

Bettman / Corbis

Dinosaurs have become an everyday part of the American imagination. From Jurassic World to The Good Dinosaur, we encounter these ancient behemoths perhaps more than we even realize. But how did this obsession come about? It happened largely thanks to the efforts of one man: Barnum Brown. Brown was born in frontier Kansas in 1873. Named after the great showman P.T. Barnum, Brown would grow up to become a master promoter in his own right.

Matthew Staver / New York Times

The New York Times reported this week on a hidden treasure in southeast Colorado—what the Times called “a dinosaur lover’s dream.” Picketwire Canyon is located on the Comanche National Grassland south of La Junta.

exploya.com / Creative Commons

Million years ago Western Kansas was covered by a great inland sea. The sea left chalk behind, creating the great formations known as Monument Rocks, now a national park in Gove County. It also left vertebrate fossils, like sharks and fish. This huge inland sea had a powerful effect on the land to the west—and the dinosaurs living there. Member station KPR says the best place to see the chalk left over from this sea is at Monument Rocks, or at Castle Rock in eastern Gove County.

Sharks in Kansas

Apr 26, 2015
thefossilforum.com

Sharks swimming in Kansas waters? Looking for dorsal fins cutting through waters where I fish, wade, and swim gives me goose bumps. I’d already spent too much time focusing on such worries as a teenage body surfer in Huntington Beach, California.

It’s National Fossil Day

Oct 14, 2014
historylines.net

Today is National Fossil Day.  It’s a time set aside by the National Park Service to remind us about the importance of fossils, and why they need to be preserved.