|Tylosaurus (top) and Pteranodon (bottom) fossils on|
displayat the Sternberg Museum of Natural History
in Hays, Kansas.
Prior to April 4th, Kansas was one of ten states in the union without a state fossil. So to make up for lost time, we now have two. Pteranodon and Tylosaurus are iconic Kansas fossils representing a time 85 million years ago when the state was covered by an inland sea that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. Pteranodon was one of the flying reptiles (pterosaurs) the lived along side dinosaurs throughout the Mesozoic Era (The Age of the Dinosaurs). They were the first reptiles to evolve flight capabilities. The fossils of these flying reptiles are found almost exclusively in the marine chalks and shales of western Kansas. The Pteranodon has long been the symbol of the Sternberg Museum. Tylosaurus is a group of mosasaurs - marine reptiles that dominated the oceans of the Mesozoic. They were powerful swimmers with mouths full of sharp teeth. Both fossils are featured in the Chalk Bed Gallery at the Sternberg Museum.
Many members of the paleontology community in Kansas helped pushed the legislation forward. Sternberg Museum's own Adjunct Curator of Paleontology Mike Everhart testified before the legislators on behalf of the bill naming the state fossils. Local fossil hunter Alan Detrich pushed the bill forward, and students, fossil hunters, and paleontologists from across the state emailed and called in their support for the bill to state senators and congressmen.
All are welcome to come celebrate with us at 3:30pm on Wednesday April 23rd in the lobby of the Sternberg Museum for the ceremonial signing of the fossil bill by Governor Brownback. Bring your kids, bring your friend, bring yourselves!