The bright midday sun glinted off the calm waters of the Inland Sea and silhouetted the long, sinuous form of a huge mosasaur lying motionless amid the floating tangle of yellow-green seaweed. Twenty years old and more than thirty feet in length, the adult mosasaur was almost full-grown and was much larger than any of the fish or sharks that lived in the shallow seaway. A swift and powerful swimmer over short distances, the mosasaur used surprise and the thrust of his muscular tail to outrun his prey with a short burst of speed." from Chapter One
Although Kansas is now high and dry, at one time the state, like most of the Midwest, was under water. Until the land finally rose above sea level during the final years of the Late Cretaceous, the area was covered by a succession of oceans whose geologic record is preserved in the sedimentary rock that covers the Great Plains.
Oceans of Kansas tells the story of the five million years when giant sharks, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, pteranodons, and birds with teeth flourished in and around this shallow sea. The abundant and well-preserved remains of these prehistoric animals were the source of great excitement in the scientific community of the day when they were first discovered in the 1860s. Two of the best-known fossil hunters of the time, E. D. Cope and O. C. Marsh, competed vigorously to recover the best specimens. During the past 130 years, thousands have been collected and sent to museums around the world.
Michael J. Everhart tells the fascinating story of their discovery, re-creates the animals and the world in which they lived, and presents the fruits of the latest research into the natural history of America’s ancient inland sea.
About the Author
Michael J. Everhart, Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas, is an expert on the Late Cretaceous of western Kansas. He is the creator of the award-winning "Oceans of Kansas" paleontology website at www.oceansofkansas.com. He lives in Derby, Kansas.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: An Ocean in Kansas?
2. Our Discovery of the Western Interior Sea
3. Invertebrates, Plants, and Trace Fossils
4. Sharks: Sharp Teeth and Shell Crushers
5. Fishes, Large and Small
6. Turtles: Leatherback Giants
7. Where the Elasmosaurs Roamed
8. Pliosaurs and Polycotylids
9. Enter the Mosasaurs
10. Pteranodons: Rulers of the Air
11. Feathers and Teeth
13. The Big Picture
Epilogue: Where Did It Go?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the prehistoric past the central section of the US was covered in a deep see leading to the Antarctic. This book outlines in both a scientific and a more readable manner the life which existed at the time. Overall if you are interested in paleantology of the US it is a good book to read.
A totally cool book about what "Kansas" was like before the comet hit 65 million years ago. Informative, interest-holding and eminently readable.
The particular value of this book is that Everhart gives you a complete survey of what is known about the habitat in question, before this lost sea was wiped out by long-term geological processes; the author's suspicion is that the notorious late-Cretaceous asteroid strike was merely the climax in that extinction event. Also useful is that Everhart gives you a history of paleontological work in the region, including the 19th-century "bone wars" of Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh.