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Cole Xiphactinus Site

This site is located southeast of Kensington, Kansas. I was granted permission to excavate the site through the courtesy of Wes and Stacy Cole. I thank them for the opportunity to bring light to the bones that haven't seen the light of day for 82 million years. This fish lived during the Cretaceous Period, and attained the length of 16 to 18 feet and weighed as much as 800 pounds. At this time Smith County was covered by the Western Interior Sea. It was between 300 and 600 feet deep.

There will be a surprise at the end of this site concerning this particular fish.

By word of mouth I heard of this site. I was told that Stacy Cole, said that in their pasture there were mounds of earth/rocks with mammoth bones sticking out of them. I couldn't believe the bone situation. The exposure at this location is Cretaceous.

I called Stacy and she agreed to take me to the location. She had a little trouble finding the "right mound". But, after visiting one mound she decided that we were too far north. So, the next stop was the next mound to the south, this was the right location, but no other "Mosasaur" bones were found.

The original bone found was a vertebra and due to the size she thought it was from a mammoth. I asked her if the vertebra was about six inches across and two inches thick. She replied "Oh, no it was about five inches long and two inches across". That description eliminated the bone being attributed to a mammoth. It could only be a marine reptile - a Mosasaur.

The bone had been given to a relative in the eastern part of Kansas, so I couldn't examine it.

While were we trying to find more of the Mosasaur bones, I saw a smaller vertebra sticking out of the matrix. It was a Xiphactinus vertebra. With a little digging I could see two or three more vertebra all articulated, and that's a good sign.

Here, Stacy Cole takes time from her busy schedule to take me to their pasture and show me the location where the bones were found.

Stacy is trying to determine whether the bones were above or below the rock shelf. I'm sure they were below.

This is the first "inkling" that there might be bones here. The vertebral column is making it's appearance.

This is my favorite part of a dig. I'm starting to clear away matrix, and you never know what the removal of the next shovel of dirt will reveal.

Some of the vertebra and the pectoral fin are exposed in this view.

Here's a vertebra that is out of context, its turned sideways in the column.

The skull is partially uncovered in this shot.

This is the partial pectoral fin (the fin below the gills).

Close-up showning the details of the vertebra.

One of the nice jaws is removed from the 65 million year darkness.

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