Among prehistoric fish, Xiphactinus is certainly one of the most terrifying. The species thrived during the Late Cretaceous era, 85 million years ago as dinosaurs’ reign was ending. Extending up to 17 feet, the carnivorous animal could swallow a six-foot-long fish whole. Giant fanglike teeth, winglike fins, and powerful swimming ability (their top speed was nearly 40 miles/hour) made this monster a formidable ocean enemy—though the shark Cretoxyrhina preyed on it in turn. Airborne creatures also had cause for alarm. Xiphactinus chomped on seabirds that skimmed the ocean surface.
The Museum’s Xiphactinus fossils come from Logan County, Kansas, which is home to 70 foot tall sedimentary formations. If you’re a University of Kansas fan, you’ll know the chant “rock chalk, jayhawk.” The “chalk” in question refers to these geological curiosities, which spread across the state. You can find Xiphactinus audax in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins: https://goo.gl/QE7PBx
On this day in 1956, Wilt Chamberlain played his 1st ever collegiate varsity basketball game for Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to a 87-69 win over Northwestern. Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds.
“It is time that we stop treating child care as a side issue or a ‘women’s issue.’ This is a family issue. This is a national economic priority for all of us.” —President Obama on expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care