Posts Tagged ‘Niobrara chalk’

A Rare Find

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My son was stationed at Fort Riley, and took my husband and I fossil hunting in the Niobrara Chalk of Kansas in October of 2003.

The chalk formed from an inland sea that divided North America during the age of dinosaurs.

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This is my husband. We found jaws, teeth and bones either sticking out of the chalk and laying about.

Keith had told me that if I found anything good that was embedded in the chalk, to leave my fossil bag by it, and come and get him. Otherwise I’d never find the fossils again. (Besides, I had no idea how to safely remove fossils from the chalk.)

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Luckily, he told me that, otherwise I definitely wouldn’t have found these 31 vertebrae again. The chalk had eroded down enough to completely separate them from it.

(The biggest one measures an inch in diameter.)

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What makes them so rare is that they’re shark vertebrae.

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 Shark vertebrae are made of cartilage, not bone, and are rarely preserved.


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When I went to find Keith, I found him 15 feet high on a small ledge cutting out a protosphyraena  fin (swordfish). Obviously, I had to wait until he was done.

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Later after cleaning the fossil and reshaping the chalk, he gave it to me on Christmas. The fin measures 11 1/2 inches long. It’s now displayed on a bookcase in my living room.


Anyone wanting more information on the chalk and fossils of Kansas might visit:


 for protosphyraena:


A Fossilized What?

A fossilized what?

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Yes, two fossilized pearls from the Niobrara chalk of western Kansas. My son found them and gave them to me. The small one measures 4 mm diameter and the larger 8 mm.

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Giant clams lived in the inland sea that divided north America during the age of the dinosaurs. They grew to five feet in diameter.

The small one on the right measures 11 x 9 inches and the piece of a larger one 7 x 15 inches.

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Oysters crowded together on the giant clams.

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Fossilized clams and oysters are common. Fossilized pearls are rare.

What A Story

If these fossilized vertebrae could talk ….

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 I found these mosasaur vertebrae in the Niobrara chalk of western Kansas in October 2003.

My oldest son, Keith, was stationed at Fort Riley at the time, and took my husband and I fossil hunting.

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 The Niobrara chalk formed from an inland sea that divided North America during the age of dinosaurs.  Mosasaurs were marine lizards that lived during the late Cretaceous Period. They grew to  59 feet long.

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Mike Everhart joined us for two days and looked over my finds for the trip. Keith had identified these vertebrae for me. Mike told me that a shark bit them off,  and that they were partially digested.

I can’t imagine life in an ancient sea during the time of dinosaurs.

I do know I’d rather visit it in my imagination.


Mike has an extensive website, Oceans of Kansas, and here’s the link to its page on mosasaurs.