Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating Kansas's new state fossils at the Sternberg Museum!

Tylosaurus (top) and Pteranodon (bottom) fossils on
displayat the Sternberg Museum of Natural History
in Hays, Kansas.
Last month, the Kansas legislators passed a bill naming Pteranodon and Tylosaurus as the state fossils of Kansas.  Tomorrow, Wednesday April 23rd, Kansas governor Sam Brownback will visit the Sternberg Museum here in Hays for a ceremonial signing of the fossil bill. The bill was formally signed into law on April 4th, but Governor Brownback and supporters of the bill felt it appropriate for the ceremony of formally recognizing state fossils to be held at the Sternberg Museum. The Governor will be signing the bill at 3:30pm in the lobby of the Museum and the event is open to the public.

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!

1 comment:

  1. From the introduction of HB 2595 in the House of Representatives through its passage by the Senate and signing by the Governor, it has been quite an amazing and educational experience for me. I'm proud to have been a part of it.