vp-81c.jpg (62934 bytes)

C. H. Sternberg


Expeditions to the Miocene of Wyoming and the chalk beds of Kansas.

Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 25:45-49.


Copyright © 2004-2009 by Mike Everhart

ePage created 12/04/2004 - Last updated 07/11/2009

Wherein, Charles Sternberg describes some of the fossils collected from the chalk beds of Kansas during the 1913 field season.

See more about Charles H. Sternberg here.

                                          Geological Papers                                45



-----------Description of collecting in Wyoming removed -------------

48                                 Kansas Academy of Science


     My paper, a record of our work in the fossil fields, would not be complete without an account of my son George F. Sternberg’s expedition into the rich field of the Niobrara, of western Kansas, which I have cultivated since 1875. This year he had full control, Sand I was not with him, and gladly give him credit for the best single year’s collection we have ever taken out of the chalk. He had as his assistant Mr. Abe Easton, of Quinter, Kan., who proved an able helper. Among the noted specimens is the most complete skeleton so far discovered of the great fish Portheus molossus. All the fins were present, for the first time, with the complete skeleton, except the head, which we have been so fortunate to obtain from another individual of the same size. This skeleton lies on its side and is fourteen feet long; the tail fins thirty-one inches long. When this specimen has been described its entire anatomy will be known for the first time, although first described by Professor Cope in 1872. Another fine specimen is the complete hind limbs, with part of the skull, of Pteranodon ingens. Doctor Eaton, the authority on pterodactyls at Yale, told me that though they had 500 specimens, this was the first one in which all the bones of the feet were in position. This specimen has gone to the American museum.
     Of the wonderful snout fish, or Protosphyraena, of the Niobrara, George found a complete set of pectoral fins, with their arches. They measure 3 feet and 9 inches in length and are 101 inches wide at the base. The enameled edge is as sharp as a knife. In life they stood out at right angles to the body, like the scythes attached to the wheels of the chariot of some ancient war king.

                             Geological papers                                      49  

They were rigid when they carved at pleasure the living Portheii
or mosasaurs. The premaxillæ were prolonged into a long, dagger-
like weapon of solid bone, and, the teeth in the angles of the jaws
were double-edged and projected forward. So when, with the
swimming force of this great fish, the snout entered the quivering flesh of his prey, these teeth opened wide the breach, permitting
the whole head to enter. If the sharks of modern oceans are their terror, what can we say of the snout fishes of the Cretaceous?
     George. secured a complete skeleton, nearly, of a large
Platecarpus nineteen feet long, the largest I have known—the entire column, head, and one paddle and ribs of one individual. Also, a splendid little tylosaur—most of the column, head, front and back paddles nearly complete, with breast bone and cartilaginous ribs. We are now mounting these great show specimens at my shop in Lawrence. Charlie is mounting the titanothere at his home on his homestead in Wyoming. George also secured fine skulls, in addition, of Platecarpus and Tylosaurus, of Portheus; Icthyodectes, the great cat fish; Anogmius, Empo, Gillicus, etc. And more wonderful, the tail of a shark showing the dorsal fin for the first time. The shark we sold to the University of Kansas last year, now finely mounted by Mr. Martin, under whose skillful hands a skull was found beneath the scattered fragments that covered it. Thus a specimen of inestimable value of this rare shark is preserved in our University Museum.