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Senate committee OKs fossil measure

3/12/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

TOPEKA -- Without objection, a Senate committee Tuesday unanimously approved a measure that would establish a pair of state fossils.

The measure now will go on the Senate consent calendar, headed for a vote Friday if there are no objections.

It's unlikely there will be any, according to Mike Everhart -- an adjunct curator of paleontology at Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays -- thanks to the apparent support for the bill by Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Everhart suspects the bill now will sail through the Senate, ultimately landing on the governor's desk where it will be signed quickly.

The bill naming the Tylosaurus as the official marine fossil and the Pteranodon as the official flying fossil now is being championed by Colyer and his daughter.

Colyer's daughter joined Everhart in testifying in favor of the bill Tuesday.

As photos were being taken following the committee hearing -- in front of a juvenile Mosasaur in the governor's ceremonial office -- Colyer sought out Everhart and asked if Sternberg musuem would be willing to loan the Capitol some Pteranodon bones to be displayed along with the Mosasaur.

He's planning to talk with Sternberg director Reese Barrick, but Everhart doubts that will be a problem.

The Mosasaur, he said, has become such a hit that school children touring the Capitol now want photographs with either Colyer or Gov. Sam Brownback taken in front of the Mosasaur wall hanging.

That hanging was brought to the Capitol by Lawrence fossil collector Alan Detrich, who long had championed the Xiphactinus as the state fossil.

He relented this year and suggested the Mosasaur might be a better state icon.

"It all went well," Everhart said of the committee hearing. "It was a positive experience with the Legislature. I needed one of them."

Everhart said the voice vote was unanimous.

"I think it was a done deal before we got there," he said. "They were polite and listened to us."