National Archives at Kansas City

What is Parkvillia northcutti?: The science and history behind a new fossil find near Kansas City

July 1, 2017


For More Information Contact:
Kimberlee Ried, 816-268-8072



On Tuesday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives in partnership with Park University, will host a panel of natural history scientists for a discussion on What is Parkvillia northcutti?, a new fossil recently found near Kansas City. A free light reception will precede the program at 6:00 p.m.  

The Kansas City metropolitan area is home to a group of rocks known to geologists as the Kansas City Group. One of the layers contained within these rocks is the Bonner Spring Shale. In Parkville, Missouri, on the Park University campus, the Bonner Springs Shale contains fossil leaves and rare insects that are approximately 306 million years old. Recently, Tim Northcutt, a local amateur paleontologist located several fossils from an extinct family of plants known as Lyginopteridaceae. These were shrub sized plants with branching fronds and leaves, but at times would have pollen organs on the fronds. The type of preservation required to keep pollen organs intact has occurred at this locality making it a rare find. 

Northcutt, will be joined by Professors Scott Hageman, Brian Hoffman and Patricia Ryberg from Park University’s Department of Natural and Physical Sciences; and Dr. Rudy Serbet from the University of Kansas. The panelists will discuss the 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, Missouri,  was once home to “beach-front” property and species like Parkvillia northcutti. This program is offered in partnership with Park University.

Reservations are requested for this free program by calling 816-268-8010 or emailing Requests for ADA accommodations must be submitted five business days prior to events.

The National Archives at Kansas City is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit   

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LPM/LE – KC17-18