5 Dinosaurs That Lived In Kansas (And Where To See Fossils Today)

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: July 12, 2023
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While Kansas is known for being an incredibly flat state. Yet, it does have an interesting history filled with prehistoric mammals, a sea that covered it in hundreds of feet of water, and even dinosaurs. While the dinosaurs that lived in Kansas weren’t among the largest or most dangerous, they were still interesting.

Let’s consider the various species of dinosaurs that once inhabited this part of North America. We’ll show you what kinds of dinosaurs lived here and where you can find fossils or recreations of the reptiles today!

Picture graph of 5 Dinosaurs That Lived in Kansas.
For two of these dinosaurs, only the family and not the genus and species could be identified.

What Is Kansas’s State Dinosaur?

Kansas has not named a state dinosaur, but it has two state fossils. The state fossils of Kansas are Tylosaurus and Pteranodon. These two ancient creatures were named the state fossils back in 2014. Although most states have a single state dinosaur or state fossil, Kansas could not decide on one, so they took a representative from the sea, Tylosaurus, and a representative from the sky, Pteranodon.

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Tylosaurus is one of the genera of mosasaurs that lived millions of years ago. The members of this genus that lived in North America typically weighed about 400 to 1,100 pounds and measured between 16 and 23 feet long.

Meanwhile, the Pteranodon genus includes several of the largest flying reptiles to ever exist. They ranged in maximum wingspan from 12 to 18 feet and weighed about 110 pounds. Although both creatures were reptiles, they were not dinosaurs that lived in Kansas. Instead, they were different creatures which are sometimes mistakenly considered dinosaurs. 

Pteranodon

Kansas could not decide on one dinosaur as their state dinosaur, so they took a representative from the sea and a representative from the sky, Pteranodon.

©YuRi Photolife/Shutterstock.com

What Are The 5 Dinosaurs That Lived In Kansas?

Fewer dinosaurs lived in Kansas compared to states like Texas and Montana. At least, scientists have less evidence that tells them about the different dinosaurs that once roamed this area compared to other states.

Part of the reason that excavations in Kansas may not have yielded as many fossils as other states can be found in the area’s geological history. Kansas was covered by a shallow sea throughout most of its history, at least until 300 million years ago. The Permian period ended about 240 million years ago, but erosion prevented any deposition until about 175 million years ago.

Finally, parts of the state were able to deposit sediment during the Early Cretaceous period. Yet, the state was covered by the Western Interior Sea during the last 70 million years of the late Cretaceous period. As a result, we don’t know precisely which dinosaurs lived throughout the area. In fact, some of the fossils that scientists recovered may have been from dinosaurs washed into the area by the sea rather than those living there.

With that said, let’s consider the dinosaurs that lived in Kansas or at least left fossil evidence behind in the state. 

1. Niobrarasaurus coleii

Originally named Hierosaurus, the fossils of Niobrarasaurus coleii were found in Kansas in 1930. The dinosaur was a large nodosaurid ankylosaur. Ankylosaurs were armored dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous about 87 to 82 million years ago.

Unlike many other ankylosaurs, this creature did not have a clubbed tail. However, it was still a sizable dinosaur that grew about 16 feet long and weighed between 500 and 1,000 pounds, or possibly up to 8,000 pounds. The fossils of this dinosaur consist of several vertebrae, teeth, foreleg bones, and a bone from the underside of the creature’s tail. 

Collage of nine ankylosaurs

A variety of ankylosaurs, armored dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous about 87 to 82 million years ago.

©2,541 × 1,706 pixels, file size: 3.57 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg – License

2. Claosaurus agilis

Claosaurus agilis was found in the Niobrara Formation located near the Smoky Hill River in Kansas. This species was originally thought to be a true hadrosaur, but further analysis showed that wasn’t true. While it’s still considered a relative of hadrosaurids, it’s merely a non-hadrosaurid relative of the true members of the clade.

While that description may sound confusing, few fossils exist to offer greater insight into the nature of this creature. Scientists estimate this creature measured about 12 feet long and weighed between 500 and 800 pounds, but that may not be correct. However, it’s believed that this dinosaur was an herbivore.

Claosaurus agilis was found in the Niobrara Formation located near the Smoky Hill River in Kansas.

©Albert Prieto-Márquez​1, Gregory M. Erickson2, Jun A. Ebersole3, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

3. Silvisaurus condrayi

The fossils of Silvisauraus condrayi were found in Wells, Kansas.

©ABelov2014 (https://abelov2014.deviantart.com/), CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Silvisaurus condrayi was another ankylosaur that comes from the family Nodosauridae. A man named Warren H. Condray discovered the fossils belonging to this species in Wells, Kansas. Other fossils of the same creature were found throughout Kansas as well.

Using the recovered remains, scientists estimated this dinosaur grew up to 13 feet long and could have weighed between 2,200 and 6,600 pounds. Like other similar creatures, this species was probably an herbivore. 

4. Nodosauridae

Not every fossil that was found in Kansas was identified. Some of the remains could only be tracked to a certain family. While some nodosaurid fossils likely belonged to juvenile Niobrarasaurus coleii, others remain unidentified, so they are counted as separate dinosaurs.

Propanoplosaurus

While some nodosaurid fossils likely belonged to

juvenile Niobrarasaurus coleii

,

others remain unidentified, so they are counted as separate dinosaurs.

©Danny Cicchetti / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

5. Hadrosauridae

As with the members of Nodosauridae, paleontologists recovered some fossils belonging to Hadrosauridae, and they could not identify their species. After all, the fossils only consisted of tail bones. They could have belonged to several different species.

We have identified at least three different dinosaurs that lived in Kansas. The unidentified dinosaurs bring the total number of dinosaurs in this state up to five. Now, let’s take a look at where you can see the fossils of these ancient reptiles.

Gryposaurus-notabilis jconway

As with the members of

Nodosauridae,

paleontologists recovered some

fossils belonging to Hadrosauridae

,

and they could not identify their species.

©John.Conway / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Where Can You See Fossils Of Dinosaurs That Lived In Kansas?

A great place to see fossils of prehistoric animals and dinosaurs that lived in Kansas is the Museum of World Treasures located in Wichita, Kansas. The fossil gallery at this museum allows visitors to learn about the process of fossilization while seeing fossils and casts of various dinosaurs.

Another place to see fossils of creatures that lived in Kansas is the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Located in Hays, Kansas, this museum has a wide variety of collections available to the public. Their paleontology collection has over 400,000 specimens!

Check the days that these places are open and their hours before heading out and get ready to learn a bunch about the dinosaurs found in Kansas!  

Summary of 5 Dinosaurs That Lived In Kansas (And Where To See Fossils Today)

DinosaurWhere To See Fossils
Niobrarasaurus coleiiMuseum of World Treasures, Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Claosaurus agilisMuseum of World Treasures, Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Silvisaurus condrayiMuseum of World Treasures, Sternberg Museum of Natural History
NodosauridaeMuseum of World Treasures, Sternberg Museum of Natural History
HadrosauridaeMuseum of World Treasures, Sternberg Museum of Natural History

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/MR1805


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the state dinosaur of Kansas?

Kansas has not named a state dinosaur, but it has two state fossils. The state fossils of Kansas are Tylosaurus and Pteranodon. These two ancient creatures were named the state fossils back in 2014. Although most states have a single state dinosaur or state fossil, Kansas could not decide on one, so they took a representative from the sea, Tylosaurus, and a representative from the sky, Pteranodon.

What's a great place to see fossils in Kansas?

A great place to see fossils of prehistoric animals and dinosaurs that lived in Kansas is the Museum of World Treasures located in Wichita, Kansas. The fossil gallery at this museum allows visitors to learn about the process of fossilization while seeing fossils and casts of various dinosaurs.

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