TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Most Kansas students learn early that the sunflower is the state flower, the meadowlark is the state bird, and the cottonwood is the state tree. Recently, some Goddard students thought Kansas should also have a state land fossil, and lawmakers and the governor agreed.
Kansas already has a state marine fossil — Tylosaurus — and a state flying fossil — Pteranodon.
Students at Challenger Intermediate School proposed that the Silvisaurus condrayi should be the state fossil. The creature was a one-ton armored ankylosaur, approximately 13 feet long, that walked across Kansas more than 100 million years ago during the late cretaceous period.
The students testified before a Kansas Senate committee earlier this year. They said Ottawa County farmer Warren Condray found the fossil of a Silvisaurus condrayi dinosaur in 1955. He was rounding up cattle after a storm had passed.
Joel Condray, Warren Condray’s grandson, is a teacher at Challenger Intermediate School. He also testified in Topeka.
The fossil is displayed at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum in Lawrence.
Dr. David Burnham, from the KU Natural History Museum, told lawmakers the fossil find was rare.
“Silvisaurus represents the only known dinosaur from the Dakota Formation in Kansas,” he said. “The skull and much of the skeleton were recovered, making it one of the most unique and significant fossils of its kind. It was named in 1960 as a new species honoring Mr.Condray, and it has been studied by scientists from around the world ever since.”
Burnham said the fossil was encased in hard rock, and it took years to clean.
The bill got almost unanimous support from the Kansas Legislature. Governor Laura Kelly announced Friday that she has signed it.
“Designating this state fossil helps educators further demonstrate Kansas’ relevance to eras long before the founding of the United States,” she said.