Fossils from the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Sea

Copyright © 1996-2006 by

Mike Everhart

On the Web since December, 1996

  Last updated 03/09/2010


LEFT:  The reconstructed skull of Platecarpus planifrons (FHSM VP-13910)

mje-1a.jpg (7194 bytes) Welcome to the  Oceans of Kansas Paleontology  web page.   My name is Mike Everhart and I am your host on a virtual journey more than 85 million years "back in time" to observe some of the many strange and wonderful creatures that lived in the oceans of the Earth during the final stages of the Age of Dinosaurs.  (More info here)    I have collected fossils from the Smoky Hill Chalk of western Kansas for the last thirty-plus years and have been an Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas since 1998. I am the Past President of the Kansas Academy of Science, and now am also the editor of the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. I have conducted a Paleontology Symposium  at the past six annual meetings of the KAS and am looking forward to the 7th paleo-symposium on April 8, 2006 at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas.    


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My interests are primarily in marine reptiles, and especially mosasaurs and plesiosaurs. More recently, I have become interested in Kansas sharks from the early Permian through the Late Cretaceous. In that regard, in 1996 I created Oceans of Kansas Paleontology as an educational site to provide factual information about the animals that lived in and over the ancient ocean that once covered Kansas and much of the central portion of North America.  I'm looking forward to celebrating  10 years on the Internet later this year (December)... stay tuned.                               

Check out my webpage of ePapers - selected (mostly historical) paleontology papers in digital format.



Everhart, M. J. 2005. Oceans of Kansas - A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea. Indiana University Press, 322 pp.


Everhart, M. J. 2005. Bite marks on an elasmosaur (Sauropterygia; Plesiosauria) paddle from the Niobrara Chalk (Upper Cretaceous) as probable evidence of feeding by the lamniform shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli. PalArch, Vertebrate paleontology  2(2): 14-24.

Everhart, M. J. 2005. Rapid evolution, diversification and distribution of mosasaurs (Reptilia; Squamata) prior to the K-T Boundary. Tate 2005 11th Annual Symposium in Paleontology and Geology, Casper, WY, p. 16-27 (not peer-reviewed).

Everhart, M. J. and S. A. Hamm. 2005. A new nodosaur specimen (Dinosauria: Nodosauridae) from the Smoky Hill Chalk (Upper Cretaceous) of western Kansas. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 108(1/2): 15-21.


Schumacher, B. A. and M. J. Everhart. 2005. A stratigraphic and taxonomic review of plesiosaurs from the old “Fort Benton Group” of central Kansas: A new assessment of old recordsPaludicola 5(2):33-54.


Everhart, M. J. 2005. Probable plesiosaur gastroliths from the basal Kiowa Shale (Early Cretaceous) of Kiowa County, Kansas. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 108 (3/4): 109-115.

Everhart, M. J. 2005. Earliest record of the genus Tylosaurus (Squamata; Mosasauridae) from the Fort Hays Limestone (Lower Coniacian) of western Kansas. Transactions 108 (3/4): 149-155.

Everhart, M. J. 2005. Elasmosaurid remains from the Pierre Shale (Upper Cretaceous) of western Kansas. Possible missing elements of the type specimen of Elasmosaurus platyurus Cope 1868? PalArch 4(3): 19-32. (Downloadable from PalArch)

Everhart, M. J. 2005b. Tylosaurus kansasensis, a new species of tylosaurine (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Niobrara Chalk of western Kansas, U.S.A. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences / Geologie en Mijnbouw, 84(3), p. 231-240.

Everhart, M. J. 2005. New stratigraphic records (Albian-Coniacian) of the guitarfish, Rhinobatos incertus (Chondrichthyes; Rajiformes), from the Cretaceous of central and western Kansas. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25(Supplement to 3): 55A.

Oceans of Kansas is NOT about dinosaurs. Although the type specimen of Niobrarasaurus coleii was found in Kansas, this web site has very little information about dinosaurs. I do recommend some excellent dinosaur sites on the Oceans of Kansas Links page. For more  information about the origin of mosasaur and plesiosaur names, go to Ben Creisler's Translation and Pronunciation Guide, a recent addition to the The Dinosauria On-Line Dinosaur Omnipedia.  John Damuth's Bibliography of Fossil Vertebrates (BFV) is HERE.   Click here for the most current view on the relationships of American mosasaurs. Also go HERE for a more detailed cladogram on Mikko Haaramo's Phylogeny Archive webpage. 

For a free, downloadable copy (.pdf  file) of Samuel Williston's (1914) excellent book: Water Reptiles of the Past and Present, CLICK HERE.  For a fictional story about the daily life of a mosasaur, CLICK HERE. If you are interested in fossil insects, visit Roy Beckemeyer's "Winds of Kansas" webpage.

My handy paleo-reference page   Search with Google Search with Altavista

Can you identify these tiny teeth?

Fusilinids in a chert arrowhead

Mystery skull - Can you identify it?

Using a flat bed scanner to "photograph" small fossils

Invertebrate feeding traces on shark teeth?

Unidentified Pennsylvanian nautiloid


If you would like to learn more about paleontology in Kansas, you might consider joining the Kansas Academy of Science,  It's inexpensive ($25 per year) and we have a variety of paleontology papers in the process of being published. Click here for an updated  list of  KAS publications on paleontology. kas_title.gif (7351 bytes)


will be held during the 138th Annual meeting of the

Kansas Academy of Science, April 8, 2006

Click here for a brief history of the Kansas Academy of Science




Systematics and morphology of American mosasaurs

by Dale Russell

"The best publication about mosasaurs"

The Yale Peabody Museum Publications Office is pleased to announce that the 1967 monograph, "Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs" by Dale Russell, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, Bulletin 23, is now available as a facsimile reprint through the Yale Peabody Museum web site.

The museum regularly receives requests for this title, which is the first of several of out-of-print publications that will be made available to the worldwide academic community through Yale's print-on-demand service.  (Go to the Publications link at http://www.peabody.yale.edu).
QUICK SITE INDEX Smoky Hill Chalk Field Guides:    Invertebrates;    Fish;     Marine Reptiles;    Pteranodons, Dinosaurs and   Birds;    Other
General TABLE OF CONTENTS About Oceans of Kansas Smoky Hill Chalk Field Guide:(1) Links other paleo sites Paleo-fiction: Mosasaur story Paleo-fiction: A moment in time Want to be a paleontologist? My first chalk fossils
Mosasaurs 1 About mosasaurs Mosasaur virtual museum Tylosaurus kansasensis nov. sp. Tylosaurus proriger 1996-7 Tylosaurus nepaeolicus Platecarpus tympaniticus Platecarpus planifrons Plioplatecarpus mosasaur
Mosasaur 2 The first mosasaur UPDATED Clidastes propython Clidastes liodontus Globidens mosasaur Halisaurus sternbergi SDSM Prognathodon Last of the great marine reptiles Kansas Mosasaur Biostratigraphy
Mosasaur 3 Mosasaur pathology The Bunker Tylosaur Tylosaurus ate Plesiosaurs The Origin of the mosasaur fringe Williston's mosasaurs C. H. Sternberg's Platecarpus   Leidy on mosasaur teeth Rapid evolution of mosasaurs  NEW
Plesiosaurs About plesiosaurs (Elasmosaurs) About  pliosaurids and polycotylids Coal Oil Canyon plesiosaur Plesiosaur gut contents Plesiosaur gastroliths Plesiosaur dig: 1998 Plesiosaur dig: 1999 Elasmosaurus platyurus
Plesiosaur2 eHistory of North Am. plesiosaurs Brachauchenius lucasi - pliosaurid Kansas Plesiosaurs Kronosaurus queenslandicus SDSM Styxosaurus Longest Neck in the Ocean Where the elasmosaurs roam New Elasmosaurus - The rest of the story?
Plesiosaur3 Plesiosaur skull anatomy Plesiosaurs in Wards Scientific Catalog  NEW Williston 1893: Plesiosaur habit Snake through the shell of a turtle? First records of   plesiosaurs
Bony Fish Giant fish: Xiphactinus audax Pachyrhizodus Cimolichthys nepaholica Enchodus: Sabre tooth  fossil fish Mystery fish: Martinichthys Saurocephalus & Saurodon  Protosphyraena Swordfish Pycnodonts and Hadrodus
Sharks Cretoxyrhina and Squalicorax Ginsu Shark: Cretoxyrhina Shark bites _ Cretoxyrhina   Sharks and mosasaurs Ptychodontid sharks Ptychodus mortoni crusher shark Ptychodus teeth by the hundreds Discovery! A Giant Ginsu Shark
Sharks 2 Kansas sharks - Overview of teeth Ctenacanthus -A  Permian shark Permian Sharks of Kansas NEW 1940  shark tooth   collection
Other Fauna Pteranodons and Nyctosaurs Dig for a Pterandon sternbergi - 1996 Pteranodons and Birds Ichthyornis -"Fishbird" A bird called Hesperornis Marine Turtles: Protostega Niobrarasaurus: Chalk  dinosaur NEW Another dinosaur discovery
Museums FHSU Sternberg Museum: The Virtual Tour University of Kansas-Bunker mosasaur South Dakota School of Mines - Museum  of Geology Denver Museum of Nature and Science University of Oklahoma Sam Noble Museum University of Nebraska - State Museum Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Research Center Maastricht Mus: Netherlands mosasaur
Historical Harlan's (1834) 'Ichthyosaurus' Goldfuss (1845) Mosasaurus Prof. Benjamin F. Mudge Dr. George M. Sternberg Dr. Theophilus H. Turner Dr. John H. Janeway U.S.A. Charles H. Sternberg History of chalk collecting -1898
Reference Marine reptile references Fish and other references Paleo ePapers on the Internet Goldfuss 1845 Translation Abstracts,  4th Annual   Paleo Symposium -2003 Abstracts,  5th Annual Paleo Symposium  - 2004
ePapers           NEW Cope 1872: Expedition to Kansas Leidy 1859: Kansas Permian Sharks Marsh 1871: First Pteranodon Marsh 1872: Ichthyornis dispar Snow 1878: Skin of Tylosaurus Williston 1891: Kansas Mosasaurs Williston 1898: Cretaceous birds
Artwork Dan Varner:      paleo-life art Art by Doug Henderson Art by Russell Hawley My Abstracts My handy Web references Art: Oceans of Kansas T-shirts
Other Giant Ichthyosaurs: Shonisaurus New Jersey Paleo Society Trip -2001 Placodonts: "Walrus Turtles" B. F.  Mudge and Williston debate origin of birds Uintacrinus - Late Cretaceous crinoids Fossil wood and other remains Plethodid: Thryptodus zittelli Smoky Hill Chalk Photographs
Other (2) New Zealand marine reptiles Mosasaurs in Sweden Prognathodon  in Kansas ?  NEW Coprolites and gut Contents Fossils from Antarctica A North Dakota mosasaur


So you want to be a Paleontologist????    Check out this advice from the Dinosaur Mailing List
Would you like to hunt fossils in the Smoky Hill Chalk?  Contact the Keystone Gallery for more information!

flag.jpg (870 bytes)  Oceans of Kansas webpages (mostly about sharks) translated into French by Jean-Michel Benoit flag.jpg (870 bytes)

Be warned that Oceans of Kansas Paleontology is a very LARGE and constantly changing web site.   It has more than a hundred and fifty sub-pages, with hundreds of pictures of fossils and paleo-life art, and lots of other interesting information that is found no where else on the Internet or even in reference books.   From time to time as new material is added, it will be listed below:


12/05/05 Dr. Theophilus Turner and the discovery of Elasmosaurus platyurus: The rest of the story and maybe the rest of the specimen?

12/03/05  Rapid evolution, diversification and distribution of mosasaurs (Reptilia; Squamata) prior to the K-T Boundary - New mosasaur webpage

11/20/05  An amateur collection: Ten-year-old Loren Lederhos collected sharks teeth from the gravel around his home in Gorham, Kansas in 1940.

10/26/05   Who first described a plesiosaur as a "snake drawn through the shell of a turtle? ... Help solve this paleo-mystery

06/19/05  Newly discovered remains of a hadrosaur dinosaur in Kansas.   Only the sixth specimen discovered in the Smoky Hill Chalk in over 130 years!  

02/06/05  Prognathodon in Kansas?  Nothing new. In fact, Prognathodon crassartus (Cope 1872) was one of the first mosasaurs discovered Kansas! 

12/03/04  The First Great Roof (Protostega gigas) and A Kansas Mosasaur - Two recently re-discovered papers by Charles H. Sternberg. 

11/18/04  Elasmosaurus, mosasaurs and other Cretaceous marine fossils  - at the NEW Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center.

10/13/04  Charles H. Sternberg - Discoveries of a Kansas fossil hunter.

10/06/04  Kansas Plesiosaurs - A chronology of Cretaceous  plesiosaurs from Kansas. 

09/26/04  Mosasaurs ate plesiosaurs! - A large Tylosaurus proriger found in western Kansas had a plesiosaur as a last meal

09/26/04   The Smoky Hill Chalk - A photographic tour of the Smoky Hill Chalk of western Kansas

07/29/04  Cimolichthys nepaholica - The "barracuda" of the Western Interior Sea

07/25/04  Are birds derived from dinosaurs? - A brief debate between Prof. B. F. Mudge and Dr. S. W. Williston

06/27/04  Pycnodonts and Hadrodus - Rare smaller fish in the Cretaceous seas of Kansas.

06/19/04  One of the first papers written (Saint Fond, 1799) about the discovery of a mosasaur - A translation by Jean-Michel Benoit

02/05/04  Saurocephalus, Saurodon and Prosaurodon - "Sword-eels" of the Late Cretaceous sea.

12/31/03   Marine turtles from the Smoky Hill Chalk and Pierre Shale: Toxochelys, Protostega, Archelon and others.

11/23/03  Ichthyornis: "Fish-bird" of the Late Cretaceous   - One of the "birds with teeth" from the Smoky Hill Chalk.

11/19/03   Protosphyraena, a primitive "swordfish" of the Late Cretaceous seas - It had a long, sharp snout and saw-tooth fins

11/08/03  First records of plesiosaurs from the lower Smoky Hill Chalk of Western Kansas - Publication by Mike Everhart

10/22/03  An Extinct Sea Lizard from Western Kansas - Charles Gilmore (1921) ePaper describing the Tylosaurus exhibit at the Smithsonian.

09/07/03  Permian Sharks of Kansas. Really cool... and important, recent discoveries of Permian shark remains by Keith Ewell.

09/01/03  Kansas Sharks: Identifications of lots of Kansas shark teeth: Some never reported from Kansas until now.   

05/10/03  The fantastic discovery of the "new bones" of an old dinosaur from the Smoky Hill Chalk - Niobrarasaurus coleii

04/18/03  Fourth Annual (2003) Kansas Academy of Science Paleontology Symposium Abstracts.

03/21/03  How to collect vertebrate fossils - An interesting article (1884) by Charles H. Sternberg on early fossil collecting.

01/03/03  Revisions to the biostratigraphy of mosasaurs in the Smoky Hill Chalk -  A 2001 publication by Mike Everhart

11/26/02   Dr. John H. Janeway, Surgeon, U. S. Army surgeon and early Kansas naturalist / paleontologist

10/19/02   Protosphyraena.... a primitive swordfish from the Late Cretaceous - A common fossil in the Smoky Hill Chalk

10/15/02   The discovery of Elasmosaurus platyurus and the "head-on-the-wrong-end" mistake of  E. D. Cope - Paleontology history

10/11/02   ePapers regarding the first discovery and the naming of North American Plesiosaurs. Joseph Leidy and E. D. Cope

08/28/02   Ctenacanthus Agassiz 1835 - A Permian Shark - Discovery of Ctenacanthus amblyxiphias in Kansas

08/07/02   Russell Hawley Paleo-Art - Mesozoic Marine reptiles  - Take a look at Russell's pin and ink marine reptiles.

07/15/02   Oceans of Kansas T-shirts - A brief history of Oceans of Kansas Paleontology as seen through our field T-shirts.

05/26/02   The discovery of a GIANT Ginsu (Cretoxyrhina mantelli) Shark in Western Kansas - BIG NEWS

04/08/02   Where the elasmosaurs roam: Separating fact from fiction:  (As published in Prehistoric Times)

04/07/02   Tylosaurus nepaeolicus -  New data on cranial measurements and body length

01/26/02  UPDATED  ePapers on the Internet - Scanned versions of older paleontology papers dealing with Kansas fossils.

12/30/01  The Goldfuss Mosasaur - An English translation of this important 1845 work on mosasaurs by Dr. August Goldfuss.

11/28/01  The other George Sternberg:  Medical doctor, soldier, and paleontologist.

10/20/01   Plesiosaur stomach contents and gastroliths from the Pierre Shale of Kansas - Recent  publication

07/21/01  The New Jersey Paleontological Society 2001 Field Trip in Kansas - On the road again.........

06/19/01  Coprolites and fossilized gut contents - Trace fossils from the Smoky Hill Chalk Formation

06/04/01 Shonisaurus popularis - The Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada -  Very large Triassic ichthyosaurs

01/15/01 Plioplatecarpus: A new genus of mosasaur from Kansas -  From the Sharon Springs Member of the Pierre Shale.

01/15/01 Clidastes propython -  An nice example of a small mosasaur from the Western Interior Sea (Kansas).

01/01/01 The dig of an early Tylosaurus proriger An extensive update of one of the original OOK pages - New pictures.



PalArch - Web-based scientific journal from the Netherlands The Paleontology Portal - Lots of interesting information


Richard Forrest's Plesiosaur.com

Paleontology Museums


Ammonites (in French)


Robert Randell's British Chalk Fossils

Rudists (Durania maxima)

PalArch - Netherlands Scientific Journal

12/28/02 Roy Beckemeyer's Winds of Kansas - Fossil insects from the Carboniferous and Permian of  Kansas and Oklahoma.   

08/07/02  VERTÉBRES   FOSSILES Jean-François Lhomme's Vertebrate Fossils from France website (in French) 

11/26/01 Natural Selection - Quality Internet resources relating to the Natural World (Natural History Museum, London)

06/19/01 Dipartimento di Scienze, della Terra Università degli Studi di Milano - An Italian paleontology website - Well done!

There are also many links to other excellent paleo web pages and museum sites around the world, so please plan on taking some time to see what is available. Also, don't forget to bookmark this page so that you can come back occasionally to see what has been added. The two best ways to 'surf' the Oceans of Kansas site are to use the Table of Contents pages, or the Links to this site and other paleontology web pages. There are also 'hyper-links' embedded in the text on most of the pages that will take you to other sub-pages for more information on that subject. These links are highlighted in a different color (light blue) and are 'click-able'.   From the Links page, you can surf the net to sites all over the world, but please take a tour of Oceans of Kansas Paleontology first. To get things started, let's take a look at:

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"Mosasaurus on the prowl"


Copyright 2002 © Dan Varner; used with permission of Dan Varner

Click  on the Pteranodon to take the unofficial Oceans of Kansas

A "virtual tour" of  the

 Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Yes, Virginia, there were lots of sharks in Kansas

Click here to see more of Doug Henderson's Paleo-Life Art


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You can now download a copy of this early article on Kansas Sharks by Williston - Provided by the Kansas Geological Survey.

Williston, S. W. 1900. Cretaceous fishes: Selachians and Pycnodonts. University Geological Survey Kansas VI pp. 237-256, with pls.

wis-map3.jpg (29336 bytes) The Cretaceous Period lasted from about 144 million years ago to 65 million years ago.   In Kansas, it is represented by marine and estuarine deposits from the Early Cretaceous  (Albian) Cheyenne Sandstone and Kiowa Shale that overlay the Wellington Formation  (Permian) or the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) at the base, to the Pierre Shale at the top. (See Kansas Geology Map and Time Scale).   A brief Cretaceous Time Scale is found here. The 1999 version of the GSA (Geological Society of America) geologic time scale is found HERE as a printable .pdf file (233 kb).

A major part of the upper portion (Late Cretaceous) of these deposits is referred to as the Niobrara Formation.  It contains a rather unique member called the Smoky Hill Chalk, and provides the exposures for two Kansas landmarks: Castle Rock and Monument Rocks. The chalk found in Kansas was deposited between 87 and 82 million years ago during a period when a shallow inland sea (the Western Interior Sea) covered most of the Midwest from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  The deposition of these chalky, marine sediments occurred during the last half of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 15-20 million years before the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.  

The Smoky Hill Chalk member is about 600 feet thick in Kansas, and lies conformably above the Fort Hays Limestone, and below the Pierre Shale. For the most part, the chalk is composed of the compacted shells (coccolithophores) and plates (coccoliths) of an abundant, microscopic, golden-brown algae (Chrysophyceae) that lived in the clear waters of a warm, shallow sea. A large percentage of the chalk is  made up of coprolites containing coccoliths from the animals that fed on the algae.

A generalized map of the North American continent during late Cretaceous time. The Western Interior Sea covered most of the Midwest from the present Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic. (Map modified from an exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum)

The Western Interior Sea, sometimes called the Inland Sea, was probably less than 600 feet deep in most areas, and had a relatively flat and soft, mud bottom. It is considered to be an 'epi-continental sea'; that is, one which lies on top of a continental landmass, and not between continents.   Near the middle of the sea where Kansas is now located, sediments were deposited at a rate which would ultimately produce about one inch of compacted chalk for every 700 years. The chalk also has more than a hundred thin layers of bentonite clay, most of which are rusty red in color, that are the result of the fall of ash from repeated eruptions of volcanoes to the west of Kansas in what is now Nevada and Utah. These ash deposits can be traced for miles across the chalk beds and have been used as marker units in describing the stratigraphy of the formation (See Hattin, 1982). In addition, several species of vertebrate and invertebrate marine life that lived and/or became extinct at certain times during the deposition of the chalk are useful in determining the age and biostratigraphy of widely separated exposures (See Stewart, 1990). Near the end of the Cretaceous, the Western Interior Sea began to close, becoming shallower and narrower as the Rocky Mountains were pushed up from the west, uplifting the sea bottom as they rose.  Eventually, the center of North America rose above sea level and the sediments (limestones, sandstones, shales and chalk) deposited on the basement rocks of Kansas for nearly half a billion years began to erode away.

A map of Kansas showing the surface and sub-surface distribution of the remaining Cretaceous rocks (adapted from the Kansas Geological Survey Bulletin 162; 1963).  Although Kansas was once nearly covered with Cretaceous marine deposits, millions of  years of erosion have removed a large portion of them them from the surface, leaving many areas of chalk exposed along river valleys in the northwest portion of the State. Go here for more information on Kansas Geology.


This shallow ocean was home to a variety of marine animals, almost all of which are now extinct. These included giant clams, rudists, crinoids, squid, ammonites, numerous sharks and bony fish, turtles, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs , Pteranodons and even several species of marine (toothed) birds. Although it seems unlikely that you would find dinosaur fossils in the middle of the Western Interior Sea, a number of them (a hadrosaur found by O. C. Marsh in 1871, and several nodosaurs, including the type specimen of Niobrarasaurus coleii) have been collected from the Smoky Hill Chalk, and their remains have been well documented. The bodies of these dinosaurs must have somehow floated hundreds of miles into the sea before sinking to the bottom or being torn apart by scavenging sharks. It is possible that they died during catastrophic flooding on the land masses to the east or west, and were carried out to sea on a large, tangled mat of trees and other vegetation (fossilized wood, including large logs, is also known from the chalk).

Over a period of about five million of years, the remains of many of these animals were preserved as fossils in the soft, chalky mud of the sea bottom. When this mud was compressed under thousands of feet overlying shale, it became a deposit of chalk that is more than 600 feet thick in Western Kansas. Most of the massive chalk formation that once covered Kansas, however, has been eroded away over the last 60 million years and is now exposed only in a relatively small area in the northwestern corner of the State. This part of Kansas is also known as the Smoky Hills.

Since 1868 and the discovery of Tylosaurus proriger, the Smoky Hill Chalk has been the source of thousands of fossil specimens, many of which are on exhibit today in museums around the world. The first significant collections of Kansas fossils were made by relatively unknown scientists like Professor Benjamin F. Mudge, Dr. George M. Sternberg, Dr. John Janeway, and Dr. Theophilus H. Turner.  Many others  were collected by and for such famous paleontologists as Edward Drinker Cope, O. C. Marsh, Samuel W. Williston, and Charles Sternberg, (for more information on the Sternberg family, click here),  including a large portion of the Yale Peabody Museum collection that resulted from the Yale College Scientific Expeditions of the 1870s. For some 'old time' advice on collecting fossils, see an 1884 article by Charles H. Sternberg here. Much of the early work on mosasaurs in Kansas was published in The University Geological Survey of Kansas in the late 1890's.  A large number have been found since then by amateur collectors and many of these have been significant additions to paleontology.  The Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University,  the Museum of Natural History at The University of Kansas, and the University of Nebraska State Museum have excellent collections of fossils from the Smoky Hill Chalk. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman, Oklahoma, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, and the American Museum of Natural History also have many Kansas fossils.  Click here for additional information about some early American paleontologists.  For a free downloadable copy (.pdf  file) of Samuel Williston's (1914) excellent book: Water Reptiles of the Past and Present, CLICK HERE.


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Oceans of Kansas is now available as a book.

 The book describes the animals that lived in the shallow sea covering Kansas during the Late Cretaceous and left their remains as fossils in the Smoky Hill Chalk.

"A journey to a time when sea monsters roamed the middle of America"

Published by the Indiana University Press, Spring 2005

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King of the


The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus

David R. Schwimmer

Published 2002 by the Indiana University Press, 220 pages

Released - October 2003

Sea Dragons

predators of the prehistoric oceans

by Richard Ellis

University Press of Kansas

Lawrence, KS


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Time Traveler

In search of dinosaurs and ancient mammals from Montana to Mongolia

by Michael Novacek , Curator of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2002

See my review in Palaeontologia Electronica (Vol. 5, Issue 1)

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Betsy Nicholls and the giant Canadian ichthyosaur

Selected as a Laureate of the Ninth Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Dr. Betsy Nicholls passed away October 18, 2004 after a prolonged battle with cancer

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Mosasaurs: Last of the great marine reptiles     (November 2000 - #44)

Where the Elasmosaurs Roam.....                 (April 2002 - #53)

Click here to go to the:   Table of Contents

Click here to go to my:   Paleontology Links

Click here for more information:   About Mosasaurs

Click here for more information:  About Oceans of Kansas Paleontology

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May 27, 2003

Oceans of Kansas Paleontology

is one of 5 sites given a 2003 SCI-TECH Web Award in the Anthropology and Paleontology category by Scientific American

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Oceans of Kansas Paleontology received a "Best of the Web" listing

in the NetWatch section of Science Magazine (August 1, 2003 issue)

se-scoutsel.gif (5820 bytes) "Oceans of Kansas Paleontology has been chosen as a selection for the Scout Report for Science & Engineering (August 2, 2000),   the premier biweekly collection of useful Internet sites for researchers, educators, and students in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Our target audience is science and engineering academics: faculty, students, staff, and librarians." (08/17/00)

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