Science | April 4, 2021 3:00 pm

The Midwestern State Where Abundant Fossils Can Be Found

The ancient history of Kansas awaits discovery

Kansas
Dig in this soil and you may find prehistoric life.
Laura Seaman/Unsplash

Fossils exert a powerful hold over many people, young and old. That’s not too surprising; after all, getting to look into the planet’s history and see traces of a long-extinct species can be revelatory on a host of levels. For some, it might spark a spirit of scientific inquiry; for others, it might prompt a sense of creative potential. There are plenty of sites around the country — and around the world — where fossils abound. And it turns out that one Midwestern state has plenty to offer those who are seeking fossils.

In a new article in Roadtrippers, Jessica Johnson Webb ventures into the surprising prehistoric history of Kansas — and what it means for fossil hunters today.

Webb grew up in north central Kansas, and recalls learning about the massive sea that covered what is now Kansas during the Cretaceous period — and the bodies of water that came before that. People have found the remains of everything from trilobites to massive sharks in different fossil beds in Kansas. A number of institutions throughout the state also feature fossils found nearby. One particularly striking image is the fossilized shell of a sea turtle that was caught by a mosasaur — an ancient aquatic reptile that is, for all intents and purposes, the stuff of nightmares.

The article is a fascinating look at how ancient history permeates modern-day Kansas. Whether you’re a scientist or an enthusiast, there’s plenty to intrigue.

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