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Kansas Symbols

While Kansas has a rich and varied geologic history that its citizens should be proud of, it wasn’t until 2014 that the state began to designate state symbols that were geological in nature. That year Kansas named an official state fossil – actually the state named two of them and Kansas is unique in that it has two state fossils.

Tylosaurus - Kansas State Marine Fossil

The Tylosaurus is the official state marine fossil - specimens of them can be found in museums around the world. Places to see examples of them here in Kansas are at the Sternberg Museum in Hays and the Dyche Museum of Natural History on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The Tylosaurus, whose name is taken from the Greek words tylos for “large protuberance” or snout, and sauros meaning lizard, was a large marine reptile who was closely related to modern monitor lizards and snakes. Some specimens grew to over 45 feet long and they were the dominant predators of the Western Interior Seaway that covered Kansas during the Cretaceous Period.


Pteranodon - Kansas State Flying Fossil

The Pteranodon also takes its name from the ancient Greek by combining the words pteron, meaning “wing” and anodon meaning “toothless.”  The Pteranodon was a flying reptile that ruled the skies over the Western Interior Seaway. The largest had a wingspread of over 24 feet and it was notable for its skull crest, which may have been a form of sexual display with the males having large crests and the females and juveniles having smaller ones.

Kansas State Rock, Mineral, and Gemstone

In 2018 Kansas adopted a state rock - limestone, a state mineral - galena, and a state gemstone - jelinite, a form of amber. The acceptance of these was due in part to the work of a fourth-grade student named Casey Friend of Trailwood Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas.


Limestone - Kansas State Rock

Limestone in one form or another is found throughout the state and has been used as a building material ever since the first settlers arrived to the territory. In western Kansas, where wood was scarce, limestone was made into fence posts as well as used for houses, barns, and other buildings.

Galena - Kansas State Mineral

Galena is found in Kansas in the Tri-State Mining District. This area was made up of the southeast corner of Kansas, northeast corner of Oklahoma, and southwest corner of Missouri. This location was once an important mining area. Galena is an ore of lead and is mainly found as cube-shaped crystals.  All of the mines that were located in the area have now been closed.

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Jelinite - Kansas State Gemstone

Jelinite is a type of amber that was first found along the Smoky Hill River in Ellsworth County. It was named in honor of its finder, George Jelinek, and is a light butterscotch color. The collecting locality became covered up with the construction of Kanopolis Reservoir and today some collectors consider it the “Holy Grail” of Kansas mineral specimens.

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