The 15th Annual Kansas Academy of Science
Paleontology Symposiumwas held during the 146th Annual Meeting of
Emporia State University,
April 5, 2014
Last updated 06/09/2014
Paleontology in the Midwest
Join Cope, Marsh, Mudge, Williston, the Sternbergs, H. T. Martin, L.D. Martin and the many others who have reported on fossils from the Western Interior Sea and the Midwest.
| LEFT: The design on the shirt given to authors at
the 2014 Paleo Symposium. The design commemorates the designation of two
official Kansas State Fossils, signed into law in April, 2014.
HOUSE BILL No. 2595
By Committee on Vision 2020
AN ACT naming the state marine fossils; the Tylosaurus and the Pteranodon.
it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
1. Tylosaurus, a giant mosasaur
which inhabited the great inland sea that covered portions of Kansas
during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era and grew to lengths of
more than 40 feet, is hereby designated as the official marine fossil of
the state of Kansas.
2. Pteranodon, a great, winged
pterosaur with a wingspread of more than 24 feet, which flew the skies of
Kansas during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, is hereby
designated as the official flying fossil of the state of Kansas.
Sec. 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book.
Abstracts from the 2014 Paleo-Symposium
Published in Volume 117 of the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (2014)
Aber, S.W., Peterson, A., Peterson, N. and Johnston, P., Science & Math Education Center, Emporia State University.
PENNSYLVANIAN VERTEBRATE FOSSIL DISPLAY FROM THE SNYDERVILLE SHALE,
GREENWOOD COUNTY, KANSAS. A serendipitous vertebrate fossil find by Naomi
Peterson occurred when scouting an alternate route for an existing utility
distribution line in Greenwood County, southeastern Kansas. She was
granted permission to collect fossils and returned with current and former
ESU earth science students and faculty. Numerous fossil fragments were
collected from the surface. Preliminary identification suggests amphibian,
fish, and reptile-like remains (see abstract by Morales). The fossils are
derived from the Snyderville Shale Member of the Oread Formation, Shawnee
Group (Virgilian Stage, Upper Pennsylvanian). This represents a regressive
phase of the Toronto Limestone-Snyderville Shale minor cyclothem. A
marginal marine or estuarine depositional environment is consistent with
this fossil assemblage. Similar Upper Pennsylvanian vertebrate fossils
have been reported since the 19th century in eastern Kansas. Benjamin
Mudge recognized fossil amphibian footprints in sidewalk flagstone on
Kansas Avenue in Topeka. He traced the flagstone to a quarry in Osage
County and published his findings in the Transactions of the Kansas
Academy of Science (1873, vol. 2). Walter Schoewe subsequently
identified this as the Howard Limestone (Wabaunsee Group) in 1956. Martin
and Merriam described a partial labyrinthodont amphibian skull from the
Wood Siding Formation in Wabaunsee County (TKAS, 2011). Preliminary
research shows these previous finds are higher in the stratigraphic
section, which highlights the potential significance of this vertebrate
KU ICHNOLOGY WEBSITE: THE MOST EXTENSIVE ICHNOLOGY WEBSITE AVAILABLE FOR
ANYONE TO USE. The KU Ichnology website (http:ichnology.ku.edu) is
currently striving to be one of the most extensive websites on ichnology.
The website is available to the public and can be used from professionals
and academics to everyday people who want to learn more about trace
fossils. We provide introductory guides to trace fossils and ichnology and
communicate complex ideas in the form of simple and easy-to-read diagrams
and models. We have a huge trace fossil index of confirmed ichnogenera
published. As of February 2014, we have over 400 ichnogenera available.
Our index is diverse as it contains trace fossils made by invertebrates,
dinosaurs, mammals, birds, and so forth. Each ichnogenus, if available,
has its own webpage with a collection of descriptions accompanying it
including the original author who erected the ichnogenus, the morphology
of the trace fossil, the trace fossil’s age, possible trace makers, and
environment the trace fossil can be found in. Sometimes, the ichnogenera
have photos or line drawings of them which can further clarify what the
trace fossil looks like. Our website is open for input, contributions (via
papers or images), and criticisms. You can reach us at our email address
firstname.lastname@example.org. We have an exciting set of goals to continue the growth
of our website which include a searchable database, trace fossils in core,
modern analogues of trace fossils, and dichotomous keys.
Everhart, M.J. and Everhart, M.M., Sternberg Museum, Fort Hays State University.
NEW SPECIMEN OF SAURODON LEANUS AND A BRIEF HISTORICAL REVIEW OF
THE DISCOVERY OF SAUROCEPHALID FISHES. Saurocephalids, including Saurodon
leanus, are an extinct group of Late Cretaceous fishes in the Family
Ichthyodectidae. They are readily recognizable by the presence of a
predentary bone on the lower jaw that supported a sword-like projection.
The first known specimen consisted of a tooth-bearing jaw fragment
collected by Lewis and Clark in August, 1804, from an exposure along the
east bank of the Missouri River in what is now northwestern Iowa. Although
the specimen was originally labeled as the “jaw of a fish or some other
animal,” it was later described as a marine reptile and named Saurocephalus
lanciformis (Harlan 1824). Saurodon leanus Hay 1830 was also
initially described as a reptile from a partial skull discovered in the
green sand of New Jersey. Leidy (1856) was the first to formally note that
the specimens represented the remains of fish. Additional species were
subsequently named from the Smoky Hill Chalk by Cope, but the distinctive
predentary bone was not recognized until described by Stewart (1898). Here
we report the 2013 discovery of a complete, articulated skull of Saurodon
leanus from the upper Coniacian of the Smoky Hill Chalk in
southeastern Gove County. When discovered the skull was lying on its left
side with the jaw open. Five vertebrae were attached to the back of the
skull, but no other post-cranial remains were present. Total length of the
specimen, including the 25 mm skull, is 44 cm. Length of the lower jaw and
7 cm predentary is 27 cm.
Hamm, S.A.1, Barnes, K.2, Bell, G.I. Jr.3 and Polcyn, M.4, 1. 8527 Nantucket, Wichita, 2. Mosasaur Ranch Museum, Terlingua, Texas, 3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Salt Flat, Texas, 4. Shuler Museum of Paleontology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
variations in Ptychodus mortoni (Elasmobranchii: Ptychodontidae). The
Late Cretaceous durophagous shark Ptychodus mortoni is diagnosed by
teeth with a high conical crown with ridges that radiate from a single
point at the apex. Morphological variation in newly recovered articulated
and associated tooth sets from the Boquillas and Penn Formations in the
Big Bend region of Texas prompted a review of specimens referred to P.
mortoni and has revealed a number of differing tooth morphologies
ranging from lower Middle Turonian to Santonian in age (~92.5 to ~84 MA).
A unique combination of characters allows differentiation of 9
morphotypes. There appears to be some temporal segregation of morphotypes,
but influences of ontogeny, individual variation, regional, variation, and
anagenic change are poorly understood at this time due to sample size and
prior lack of recognition of variation in the literature. Nonetheless, the
diagnosis of P. mortoni at this point is too general and does not
document the range of morphology present in this taxon, and thus limits
the potential biostratigraphic utility of the taxon. This study provides
new data on morphological variation within P. mortoni in a temporal
framework that may improve the biostratigraphic utility of this taxon in
Hammersburg, S.R. and Hasiotis S.T., Department of Geology, University of Kansas.
ICHNOTAXONOMY OF THE CAMBRIAN SPENCE SHALE OF UTAH. The Cambrian Series 3
Spence Shale is a well-known Konservat-Lagerstätte producing numerous
well-preserved trilobites, echinoids, and soft-body tissues of arthropods
and worms. The Spence Shale was deposited on a carbonate ramp on the
northwestern edge of Laurentia and consists of calcareous shale with
intervals of peloidal and oolitic limestone. The Spence Shale is the
oldest middle Cambrian unit with Burgess Shale-type preservation (BST) in
North America and is unique as it contains BST soft tissues in the same
stratigraphic intervals as ichnofossils. Ichnofossils are important tools
for reconstructing ancient environments and can indicate
paleoenvironmental conditions during and after deposition as well as the
associated paleoecology of a deposit even when body fossils are absent.
Although numerous body fossil studies have been conducted on the Spence
Shale, an ichnotaxonomic treatment has never before been attempted. To
date, 15 ichnogenera and 12 ichnospecies have been identified: Arenicolites,
Bergaueria (B. hemispherica and B. sucta), Cochlichnus,
Cruziana (C. problematica), Diplichnites, Gordia (G.
marina and G. arcuata), Gyrophyllites, Monocraterion,
Monomorphichnus (M. lineatus and M. multilineatus), Neonereites
(N. multiserialis), Phycodes, Planolites (P.
annularis), Rusophycus (R. carbonarius), Sagittichnus,
and Treptichnus (T. bifurcus and T. pedum). Deposit
and filter feeding, dwelling, grazing locomotion, and predation are
represented by ichnofossils, which were produced by various tracemakers
(mostly annelid worms and trilobites). The most common behaviors
represented by these ichnogenera are deposit feeding and locomotion.
Several ichnofossils are suggestive of predation behaviors: Planolites
terminating at a Rusophycus. The ichnofossils represent mostly a
depauperate, distal Cruziana ichnofacies and depauperate Skolithos
Hoffman, B.L., Claycomb, G.D., and Hageman, S.A., Park University, Parkville, Missouri.
OF A CTENACANTHOID SHARK, HESLERODUS DIVERGENS, IN THE FARLEY
LIMESTONE (UPPER PENNSYLVANIAN) OF MISSOURI. Acetic acid macerations of
sediments of the Farley Limestone Member of the Lane Shale Formation of
the Kansas City Group (Upper Pennsylvanian, Kasimovian) have yielded
numerous teeth of the ctenacanthoid shark Heslerodus divergens (Ginter,
2002). These are the most common shark remains found in the Farley
Limestone, unlike the underlying Wyandotte Limestone Formation sediments,
in which symmoriid remains predominate. Other chondrichthyan remains found
include several petalodont tooth types, the ctenacanthoid Zangerlodus
williamsi, the hybodont Maiseyodus johnsoni and several
symmoriid teeth and denticles. This appears to represent the first record
of Heslerodus divergens in Missouri.
Itano, W.M., Natural History Museum, University of Colorado, Boulder.
ON A TOOTH OF EDESTUS : IMPLICATIONS FOR FUNCTIONAL MORPHOLOGY. A
symphyseal tooth of the “shark” Edestus sp., TMM 46034-1, was
found in the office of the late Dr. Wann Langston, Jr. (1921-2013) of the
Texas Memorial Museum, University of Texas, Austin. The tooth is truncated
apically. The apical surface of the surviving portion of the tooth is
smooth and slightly convex, as if worn by abrasion. It was found in the
Smithwick Shale, of Atokan (Middle Pennsylvanian) age, near Bend, San Saba
County, Texas. According to unpublished notes, Langston realized that the
form of wear could provide evidence as to the manner in which the
symphyseal teeth of Edestus were used. However, he failed to reach
any conclusions, or at least did not record them. Recently, I have
proposed that the symphyseal tooth whorls of Edestus, which are
present in both the upper and lower jaws, were used, not in opposition,
like scissors, but with an up-and-down motion of the entire head, with
jaws fixed relative to each other, to slash prey. The apex of the Edestus
tooth may have been broken off in an act of attempted predation. The
apical surface of the remaining part of the tooth may have been worn
smooth in repeated acts of attempted predation on massive prey having an
abrasive outer covering, such as large fish having skin covered with
scales or dermal denticles.
Jones, M.F. and Hasiotis, S.T., Department of Geology, University of Kansas.
implications of bat trackways and trackmaking ability based on
neoichnological observations of the fruit bat Carollia perspicillata
King, S.D., Museum of World Treasures, Wichita.
of a Tyrannosaurus specimen and a discussion of its gastralia and
their function. A Tyrannosaurus specimen (MOWT L23-001-007)
that has been on display at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, KS,
for seven years is formally described for the first time. The specimen was
found in the lower Hell Creek Formation (Maastrichtian, Late Cretaceous)
in Harding County, SD. The skeleton consists of approximately 137 bones,
most of them representing the axial skeleton. Based on comparisons with
published descriptions of FMNH PR2081 and on the locality of its
discovery, the specimen is identified as a Tyrannosaurus rex. The
skeleton includes several elements of a gastralial basket. The first two
and possibly the third rows were fused into a single unit. Up to four
articulation facets remain on both the dorsal and ventral side of each
gastralium and these correspond to a maximum of five and minimum of two
facets on each side of a gastralium. The number of facets shows that there
was a minimum of two points of articulation between adjacent gastralia,
which indicates that the gastralial basket was a ridged structure. A
ridged gastralial basket conflicts with a previous idea that the
gastralial basket could expand and contract laterally to facilitate
breathing. Instead of lateral movement, respiration could be accomplished
by elevating and lowering the basket.
Morales, M., Johnston Geology Museum, Emporia State University.
Report oN the Discovery of Vertebrate Fossils in the Snyderville (SHALE)
Member of the Oread (LIMESTONE) Formation (Upper Pennsylvanian, Virgilian)
near Toronto, Kansas. The recent discovery of vertebrate fossils in
the Snyderville (Shale) Member near the town of Toronto, Kansas appears to
be the first occurrence of such fossils from this rock unit, which extends
from Nebraska into Missouri and from Oklahoma into Iowa. Stratigraphically
the Snyderville lies between the underlying Toronto (Limestone) Member and
the overlying Leavenworth (Limestone) Member. All three members are within
the Oread (Limestone) Formation, which is part of the Virgilian Stage,
upper Pennsylvanian Series of Kansas. The Snyderville is approximately 300
million years old. Both the Toronto and Leavenworth limestone members are
marine, but the intervening Snyderville includes marine and non-marine
deposits. Generally, both the lower and upper Snyderville typically
comprise mainly near shore shale deposits with a diversity of marine
invertebrate fossils including bryozoans, brachiopods, clams, gastropods,
nautiloid cephalopods, barnacles, ostracodes, crinoids, and echinoids,
along with foraminiferans and algae. The middle Snyderville includes
sandstones, mudstones and paleosols, which probably represent transitional
to non-marine environments of deposition, but few fossils have been
reported from these deposits. The new vertebrate fossils were discovered
by Naomi Peterson and collected by her and family members. Most specimens
were collected as float, having weathered and eroded out of red and gray
shale deposits. The fossils are well preserved but completely
disarticulated. They represent a variety of vertebrate groups, including
fish (fin spines, jaw fragments with teeth, vertebrae), amphibians
(ornamented dermal bone, jaw fragments with teeth, limb and girdle bones,
phalanges, vertebral centra), and reptiles (teeth, limb and girdle bones,
phalanges, vertebrae). The fossils come mainly from a horizon in which the
bones seem to be concentrated; therefore future excavation at the site
should yield many more vertebrate specimens.