PZ at The American Street has a great post about theNiobrara chalk deposit in Kansas.
I’ve only briefly visited modern Kansas, but the Kansas of my imagination is a fiercely exotic ocean, a warm and savage sea richer than any place still extant. Try mentioning the magic word “Niobrara” to a paleontologist, or any enthusiast familiar with Mesozoic reptiles: their eyes will light up as it conjures visions of the world of 85 million years ago, a world well documented in the incredible fossil beds of Kansas. It’s a powerful, evocative word that links us to a wealth of evidence and a complex, fascinating history.
Reading about the ridiculous anti-evolution trial going on there was rather depressing. It isn’t just that the creationist arguments are so poor, but that they are making them in Kansas, where beneath their very feet are the relics of an ancient world that show them to be wrong. Don’t schoolchildren there take pride in the paleontological wealth of their home? Do the people bury their imaginations and avoid thinking about the history that surrounds them?