Fossils

This city was founded on a geological anomaly called a rock ledge. Surrouded by cliffs and gorges, no less.  Back then, what we now call downtown Kansas City was dense wilderness. A geology professor explains.

Guest:

  • Richard J. Gentile, professor emeritus of geology, The University of Kansas
Courtesy Robert DePalma

While the Tyrannosaurus rex was at the top of the food chain 66 million years ago, a team of researchers linked to the University of Kansas discovered a giant, fearsome raptor that may have given T. rex a run for its money.

Dakotaraptor, as it’s called, was 17-feet long, six-feet tall at the hips and weighed hundreds of pounds. With a 9.5-inch razor-sharp retractable claw likely used to gut or latch onto prey, it was an unbeatable hunter.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Finding a fossil in Kansas City can be as easy as going to the park or checking around your basement.

"Both Kansas and Missouri have great fossil deposits," Bruce Lieberman told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

"They represent, in some respects, different time periods, especially if you get further east into Missouri, east of the Kansas City metro," he said.

Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR

We talk with a KU paleontologist who co-created an app that helps identify fossils, then an amateur fossil hunter shares how — and where — to look.

Guests:

  • Bruce Lieberman, Paleontologist in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at KU and co-creator of the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life
  • Brent Jackson, amateur fossil hunter
Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

Imagine a Kansas City covered by ice sheets, oceans that ebb and flow, or lush rain forests with soaring ferns and palm trees. 

These were some of the different landscapes that covered this area millions of years ago.  UMKC geosciences professor emeritus Richard Gentile says we learn all this by “reading the rocks” beneath our feet.   

Gentile curated the exhibit, Kansas City Millions of Years Ago: What the Rock Record Tells Us at Commerce Bank’s Box Gallery through May 31, 2013. 

Fossil Facebook: Digitization of Fossils Going Public

Jun 26, 2012
Una Farrell

If some people are worried about pictures from freshman year surfacing on the internet, imagine this: a 290 million year old organism gets put on a publicly accessible database, from its specific location all the way to a picture from its deathbed.

Coming soon to your newsfeed:  Fossil Facebook.

He certainly shook up our family tree that day in 1974. The human family tree that is.