Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's With Kansas & It's Fish?

In the Late Cretaceous Period - about 87-75 million years ago - Kansas was under water.  Yes covered by a shallow sea of saltwater.  It's only been in the last 65 million years or so that the Rocky Mountain uplift elevated us above sea level.  This event also elevated all the sea bottom sediments (shales and chalks) that contained a wealth of marine fossils.  One of these was the unique Fish-within-a-fish fossil discovered by paleontologist George Sternberg in Gove County, Kansas in 1952.

The fossil is a nearly 14-foot Xiphactinus audax specimen that just happens to have a 6-foot Gillicus arcuatus in its stomach - also very nicely preserved.  See more from the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.  The Smoky Hill Chalk is the upper member of the Niobrara Chalk Formation, and has yielded many significant fossils - like the largest yet discovered Xiphactinus audax measuring in at 17 feet long.  It was discovered in 1996 by Mike Everhart.  

So, while Kansas doesn't have the world's wealth of water today, there was a time.... 

No comments:

Post a Comment