A Lawrence resident who's been a fossil hunter for nearly three decades wants the state of Kansas to recognize a state fossil.
Alan Detrich, 66, has been trying for 12 years to get the state to authorize a state fossil. And now he's dedicating one last year to the cause before giving up, The Lawrence Journal World reported (http://bit.ly/19jEqeO ). Kansas is one of 11 states without a state fossil or dinosaur. Detrich wants Kansas to select the mosasaur, a large, swimming reptile predator common to Kansas when Kansas was covered by an inland sea millions of years ago.
"This is my last try," he said. "If this does not succeed, the guy that picks up the baton after me is going to have to carry it because at some point you gotta realize that people do not want what you're recommending."
Detrich, a retired oil investor and antique businessman, has been a fossil hunter for about 28 years. He has a 17-and-a-half foot mosasaur skeleton prepared to display to help stir public support for his effort. He plans to approach state representatives while also preparing his other 20-foot-long mosasaur for display.
Leonard Krishtalka, director of the of Kansas University's Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute, said declaring the mosasaur the state fossil could promote education and tourism in Kansas in part because the abundance of fossils in the western part of the state.
"When it comes to mosasaurs, Kansas certainly has the goods," Krishtalka said. "Other museums, from the United States and other countries, have collected mosasaurs from (Kansas)."