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9 Fascinating Places In Kansas For Dinosaur Lovers

Millions of years ago, dinosaurs did not roam the lands of Kansas. Instead, prehistoric creatures swam around these parts. Massive sharks, Mosasaurs, and other “sea monsters” called Kansas home. For dinosaur fans, Kansas has a wealth of spots to learn more about the prehistoric past. Read on to learn about the sites and museums filled with fossils, as well as a few of the state’s quirkier dino stops. 

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A girl digs in the sand at the Downing Children's Garden at Botanica Wichita, and in the background is a fake fossil in the rocks
Downing Children’s Garden at Botanic Wichita

In the following blog post, you’ll find museums with massive fossil collections and you’ll find parks where dinosaurs roamed (or more likely sea monsters swam). And then, you’ll find some fun dinosaur additions that are less scientific or historically-accurate, and more playful. These include Erie Dinosaur Park and the children’s garden at Botanica Wichita. No matter their age, though, I think dinosaur lovers will enjoy this tour of Kansas sites!

Kansas history: When sea monsters and sharks swam here

Kansas was once underwater, where giant prehistoric marine reptiles — or as I like to think of them, sea monsters — once swam. The fossil remains of these ancient reptiles, and several flying reptiles, have been fascinating paleontologists and amateur fossil hunters for years. According to Kansas Historical Society, “some of the creatures found in the sea were as long as the width of a basketball court. Some fish had enormous mouths that opened 8 feet high.”

Many of these amazing finds have been discovered in western Kansas, particularly in the Niobrara Chalk formation. You can still find bits of fossils today. I’ve seen bits of shelled creatures on hikes at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. The area was part of the Western Interior Seaway during the Cretaceous period, and some of the notable fossils found int he area include mosasaurs and plesiosaurs.

A man stands next to a large, complete fossil of the Tylosaurus, the official state marine fossil of Kansas. It's on display the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Fun fact: Kansas’ state fossils are the Tylosaurus (the official state marine fossil) and the Pteranodon (the official state flying fossil). The Tylosaurus is a giant mosasaur that grew up to 40 feet long or more. The Pteranodon was a winged pterosaur with a wingspan of 24 feet or more. Pteranodon fossils have been mostly found in Smoky Hill Chalk of western Kansas. 

Museums, parks & attractions featuring dinosaurs & fossils

Looking For Dinosaurs In Kansas

More Places Of Interest

  • Museum of World Treasures (Wichita). There are several galleries you'll want to visit, including the Fossil Gallery, Sea Creatures of the Plains, and The Cenozoic Era.
  • Downing Children’s Garden at Botanica (Wichita). Botanica is one of my favorite botanical gardens, and its children's garden is what I judge all other children's gardens against. Look for the replica Fossil Wall with a display of a Claosaurus fossil, There’s also a sandbox to dig for fake fossils.
On the trail of dinosaurs and fossils? Visit these 9 places in Kansas! From natural history museums to the Badlands where fossils are found, this list will inspire you.

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