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Kansas Earth Symbols

Kansas Earth SymbolsGalena (left) and jelinite

Kansas didn’t have any official mineral or fossil symbols until recently. Now it has several, five of which are de facto fossils.

Earth Symbols
Mineral galena 2018
Gem jelinite 2018
Rock limestone 2018
Flying Fossil † Pteranodon 2014
Marine Fossil † Tylosaurus 2014
Land Fossil † Silvisaurus condrayi 2023
Soil Harney Silt Loam 1990

Most Great Plains states adopted dinosaurs as state fossils. But Kansas instead adopted an official flying fossil and marine fossil, Pteranodon and Tylosaurus. They are a reminder that Kansas lie under shallow seas during much of the Cretaceous, the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Kansas State Fossils

Fabulous fossils of marine creatures have been found in Kansas’ chalk beds. Even more intriguing are the fossils of winged pterosaurs.

Where did they roost? Did they soar continuously, like modern albatrosses? Or did they spend the night on islands? Did they roost on cliffs in the distant Rocky Mountains?

In 2023, Kansans adopted a third prehistoric critter, naming Silvisaurus condrayi the official land fossil. Discovered in Kansas, Sylvisaurus is an armored dinosaur related to the more familiar ankylosaurs.

Kansas State Land Fossil (By ABelov2014 (abelov2014.deviantart.com) – source, CC BY-SA 3.0, link Note: I erased the background and modified the dinosaur.)

Kansas’ fourth official fossil is jelinite, which was designated the state gem. First described as “kansanite,” jelinite is a type of amber. It is thought to have been produced by prehistoric conifers.

Limestone was named Kansas’ official state rock. Although limestone is yet another fossil of sorts, it seems an odd choice. Limestone is more closely associated with Eastern states in the Appalachians. Besides, Kansas is best known for its chalk beds, isn’t it?

In fact, chalk is a type of limestone. So maybe Kansas legislators killed two birds with one stone.

Kansas State RockMonument Rocks (left) and Castle Rock.

Kansas’ state mineral is galena, or lead, which also represents Missouri and Wisconsin. In what is now southeast Kansas, Native Americans reportedly found lumps of almost pure lead on or near the surface. They would melt the lead over their campfires and make bullets out of their treasure.

White people discovered lead in 1877, and a settlement named Galena sprouted on the rocky land that same year. It became a classic mining “boomtown,” growing and prospering before declining. Today, Galena is a small town surrounded by collapsing mine shafts and environmental ruin.

Kansas almost became the first state to adopt an official meteorite.

Kansas State Rock

In the not too distant past, a meteor streaked across the sky and slammed into the earth near Haviland, in Kansas’ Kiowa County. A meteorite was found at the site in 1885, though the shallow crater wasn’t identified until 1925.

Thousands of pounds of alien rock have been recovered, and some thought the meteorite should be Kansas’ state rock.

Soil ˆ

Kansas State Soil

Kansas is a leading agricultural state, thanks to its soil, Harney silt loam.

Harney soils formed in an upland region with little annual rainfall. The parent material is loess, a legacy of Ice Age glaciers. The deep, well-drained soils help make Kansas The Wheat State.

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