306 Million Year-Old Fossil Discovered in Parkville to be Focus of Park University Discussion

Thursday, July 6, 2017

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Plant fossils dating some 306 million years old found on the property of Park University’s flagship Parkville Campus will be the topic of discussion on Tuesday, July 25, at the National Archives at Kansas City, 400 E. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.

The dialogue will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception preceding the discussion at 6 p.m. Admission to the event is free, but reservations are requested by contacting the National Archives at Kansas City at kansascity.educate@nara.gov or (816) 268-8010.

The discussion, “What is Parkvillia northcutti?” will feature a panel of natural history scientists focusing their comments on what is known to geologists as the Bonner Springs (Kan.) Shale within the Kansas City Group of rocks. The Bonner Springs Shale contains fossil leaves and rare insects that are approximately 306 million years old. In 2009, Tim Northcutt, a local amateur paleontologist, located several fossils from an extinct family of plants known as Lyginopteridaceae. These shrub-sized plants had branching fronds and leaves, but at times would have pollen organs on the fronds. The type of preservation required to keep pollen organs intact just happened to occur on Park University’s Parkville Campus, making it a rare find.

Joining Northcutt on the panel will be: Park University’s Scott Hageman, associate dean of the School of Natural, Applied and Social Sciences, and associate professor of geology; Brian Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of biology; and Patricia Ryberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology.

The panelists will discuss various aspects of this fossil find, including how the fossils are named, what type of technology is used when excavating for fossils and how the Midwest, specifically Platte County, Mo., was once home to “beachfront” property and species like Parkvillia northcutti.

The research on the find can be read in the November 2016 (volume 234) issue of the Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, “A New Pennsylvanian Pollen Organ from Northwestern Missouri with Affinities in the Lyginopteridales.”

Requests for ADA accommodations at National Archives at Kansas City events must be submitted five business days prior to events at kansascity.educate@nara.gov or (816) 268-8010.