Fossil discovery points to Kansas City's ancient, swampy past

An amateur paleontologist found the fossil near Park University

Bill Grady
July 25, 2017 - 6:31 am

Parkville, MO - A major scientific find at Park University serves as a reminder that much of the Kansas City Northland was a swamp millions of years ago.

An amateur paleontologist found a fossil of a 300,000,000-year-old plant on the edge of the woods, adjacent to the school's main campus. The plant appears to be a cross between a conifer, like a small pine tree, and a fern. The organism was about the height of a shrub. 

Nothing like the plant exists today. It is hard to determine what role it may have played in the ecology of its day.

"There were insects around, and we do have evidence of the insects eating plants," said Dr. Patricia Ryberg, biology professor. "It was a food source for something but not the dinosaurs you see in 'Jurassic Park.'"

The significance of the find, called Parkvillia Northcutti, will be in determining how the species evolved, Ryberg said.

The discovery will be discussed Tuesday evening, July 25, at the National Archives at 400 W Pershing Road.

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