C. H. Sternberg


Field work in Kansas and Texas [1919]

Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 30(2):339-348


Copyright 2004-2009 by Mike Everhart

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


Wherein Charles Sternberg describes discoveries made in the Kansas chalk during the Spring and Summer of 1919.

See more about Charles H. Sternberg here.

                                      Field Work in Kansas and Texas                         339


Field Work in Kansas and Texas


     On April 7, 1919, we left Lawrence in my Ford truck for western Kansas.
Mr. Knoblock, of Quincy, Ill., was my driver. After a very disagreeable journey of seven days, on account of rain and bad roads, we reached Quinter, Kan. The next day we made our camp in Mr. Sampson’s pasture on Hackberry creek. The canyons were filled with great snowdrifts, and the weather was bad for some time.
     Two miles east of camp I found a beautiful plate of the crinoid Unitacrinus socialis. They covered an area of eighteen square feet. In one case the arcs were spread over the plate for over three feet. This I sent to the state museum at Albany, N. Y.
     After leaving this camp we went to the head of the canyon, east of , in western Gove county. Mr. Lester Olds was my assistant, as Knoblock had returned home. Here I discovered two very fine specimens.

340                                Kansas Academy of Science.

The first was a nearly complete skeleton, in its natural position, of the small Pteranodon. This is the only Pteranodon I ever discovered with the bones of the skeleton in place. The American Museum had been unable to mount their skeletons, as the normal position of the vertebra was unknown. They purchased this specimen and their skilled preparator, Falkenback, prepared it.
     The second specimen was a nearly complete skeleton of
Clidastes tortor
The skull is uncrushed and shows the pterygoid bones, armed with teeth in -
front of the gullet. It is twelve feet long and I have mounted it in panel.
I also secured one of the large
Inoceramus shells, over three feet in length.
This I sent to the British Museum.
     My third camp was made at Mr. Martin’s ranch, south of Castle Rock, on
the brakes of the Smoky Hill river north of Utica. Here I was left entirely
alone and had a severe time of it. I was so fortunate, however (and that
really is what counts), as to find a splendid skeleton of Platecarpus, with all
the paddles, breastbones and cartilaginous ribs. Only a few terminal caudal
bones were missing from the skeleton. I found it very difficult to handle the
big sections in which I took it up. There were two, and they weighed about
500 pounds each. However, by using all the skill I had I succeeded in accomplishing the labor of turning them over. I have mounted this skeleton in a panel. It is 18 1/2 feet long.
     The second remarkable fossil vertebrate found here was the skeleton of a
Portheus. It was preserved from the pelvic fins to the end of the tail, and is the largest Portheus I have seen. The spread of the tail fins is five feet.  In 1918 my son Levi found a skull and body part of a Portheus that is so near in size to this one that I have made a composite skeleton of the two. It is sixteen feet long and will be, as I said, the largest bony fish ever collected from the Cretaceous.
     I also found the tail fins, that are the same size as the ones missing from the splendid skeleton we got on Butte Creek in 1918. This I have used in my panel mount of this beautiful fish. It is thirteen feet long, and shows for the first tune the spines and supernumeraries. So the correct anatomy of this great fish can now be correctly made out. The one I sent the American Museum years ago had no spines and they were restored as straight, pointed shafts with supernumeraries terminating in clublike ends. A number of others have been mounted that copied this error. In this specimen the spines form a double curve and the supernumeraries the arc of a circle. They lie along the upper curves of the dorsal spines. .

-----------------The rest of the paper on collecting in Texas omitted-----------