Near the middle of the sea in what is now Kansas sediments were deposited at a fast rate creating about an inch of compacted chalk each 700 years. Some of the worlds finest fossils have been discovered here. The crinoid Uintacrinus and fish Ichthyodectes are two examples. (Fossilmuseum.net NP)
When other regions have such finds they are news, while the shelf and chalk deposit areas of the Western Interior Seaway boast finds nearly every digging season, by both hobbyists and professional scholars. While other scholars are quick to point out that marine fossils are abundant the vertebrate fossil record is relatively barren, this is likely due to the significantly fossil bearing conditions of the silt sea bottom and its storm driven record keeping system, where large silt deposits moved rapidly over large areas in short periods of time and created a relative recording of the living and dead creatures in its wake. (Baldridge 58)
The demise of the Western Interior Sea was again a result of regional shifts and changes that resulted in seaway becoming increasingly shallow, losing its connection to the oceans in both the northern and southern aspects of the region, due in part to land shifting as well as ocean recession. When this occurred fresh water lakes, rivers, swamps and streams filled the crevasses and valleys left by the seaway and massive formations of vegetation and other matter collected to create the coal deposits that we mine today and that serve as the majority of energy for nearly the whole of the Midwest and east coast of the U.S. (Brigham 400)
The fascinating history of the Western Interior Seaway is peppered with the discovery of a captivating array of mythical animals, many called by science and novice alike monsters.
The region is also marked by arid tracts of land that having not seen the sea in millions of years seem to have little if anything to do with the oceans or seas, yet are teaming with marine fossils. There is no doubt that these coupled facts clearly make the era of the seaway as well as its evidence an unquenchable mystery to those who seek to discover its secrets. The countless extinct and fanciful animals spark the fascination of nearly anyone who begins to look at the region and the era that created it.
Baldridge, W.S. (2004). Geology of the American Southwest: a journey through two billion years of plate-tectonic history. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
Brigham, a.P. (1905). A Textbook of Geology. New York, NY: D. Appleton and Co.
Everhart, M. (2010). Oceans of Kansas Paleontology. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from Oceans of Kansas: http://www.oceansofkansas.com/
Everhart, M. (2007). Seamonsters: Prehistoric Creatures of theDeedp . Washington, DC: National Geographic Press.
Nicholls, E.L., & Meckert, D. (2002). Marine reptiles from the Nanaimo Group (Upper Cretaceous) of Vancouver Island. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 1591-1603.
Redfern, R. (2001). Origins: the evolution of continents, oceans, and life. Oklahoma City, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Western Interior Sea. (ND). Retrieved November.