The home for Western Interior Seaway research

Dr. Laura Wilson with the Allosaurus in the atrium of Tomanek Hall at Fort Hays State University.

The Wilson Paleontology Research Group is is under the direction of Dr. Laura E. Wilson and based in the Department of Geosciences and Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University. Our research is diverse and explores the paleobiology of a variety of animals using an array of tools, but the common goal is to better understand the organisms and ecology of the Western Interior Seaway of North America. The Western Interior Seaway covered central North America, stretching from the Arctic to the equator during the Late Cretaceous (100-66 million years ago). This seaway played host to a variety of fishes, marine reptiles, sea birds, and pterosaurs.

Research projects span vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology to explore the paleoecology, life history, biomechanics, taphonomy, and growth dynamics of animals that lived in the Seaway. We employ tools such as osteohistology, geometric morphometrics, comparative anatomy, functional morphology, and ecological niche modeling. Much of our research also involves comparisons to extant animals and ecosystems.

Sea Turtles in Kansas?!

Protostega was a large sea turtle the lived in the ocean that covered Kansas and central North America 80 million years ago. New research by FHSU paleontologist Dr. Laura Wilson shows that the bone tissue microstructure (osteohistology) of Protostega reveals growth patterns similar to modern leatherback sea turtles (the largest sea turtles alive today) with…

Digging deeper into fossil seabirds from Kansas

Eighty-five million years ago, a seabird called Ichthyornis (which means “fish bird”) lived and died over the ocean that covered Kansas and much of central North America. With well-developed wings, hollow bones, and a body roughly the size and shape of a tern’s, Ichthyornis looked like modern birds and was clearly capable of flying. However,…

FHSU Paleontologists visit Toronto!

Every fall, vertebrate paleontologists from around the world come together for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting. This year’s conference in Toronto, Canada provided an opportunity to share research, catch up with colleagues, and build new connections. Ten FHSU faculty, staff, students, and alumni were able to make the meeting, including three current students…