Students appear before Senate Committee, hope to get dinosaur named 'state land fossil'
TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - A class of 42 sixth graders took over a Kansas Senate Committee hearing this morning in an effort to get a dinosaur named the state's land fossil.
While there are some out there who might call the lawmakers who roam the halls of the State House fossils, or maybe dinosaurs, there's a giant lizard native to Kansas who wants its title back, according to students at Challenger Intermediate School in Goddard. Their math teacher is the grandson of the man who found the fossil scientists determined was the first specimen of its species on record.
"(The) Silvisaurus condrayi dinosaur was discovered in Ottawa County in 1955 on the farm owned and operated by Warren Condray and his family," said Challenger Intermediate student Ava Rose Mantanona.
It took the sixth graders two years to get to the State House. They built their case for making what's left of the one-ton, 13-foot-long forest-swelling lizard the official land fossil of Kansas. They also took the time to find experts like paleontologist Dr. David Burnham, who helped them convince state lawmakers and a sponsor in the Senate to get the ball rolling.
The students learned how to make a request and start the process of having a hearing. Craig Ryan, the principal of Challenge, said, “This opportunity has allowed the students to gain the experience of how the government works, a skill these students can carry with them for life.”
"This dinosaur actually walked the land that we now call Kansas," Dr. Burnhan said.
"It's been described as an armadillo on steroids. I'm kinda happy we didn't meet that in our times," remarked Sen. Elaine Bowers (R) of Concordia.
Wednesday was showtime for the students. One by one, they stepped up to the podium to have their say. They explained the history of the dinosaur and defended why the animal deserves this special recognition.
Sen. Mike Thompson - (R) Johnson County questioned Challenger Intermediate Student Zach Liedl, asking him "Is this your favorite dinosaur now?"
Liedl replied that it was.
"Ok! So that's a good reason to have it as a state fossil, don't you think?" pressed Thompson.
"Yeah," agreed Liedl.
Liedl later said that “I am excited to make history and help enact the Official Land Dinosaur of Kansas.”
In the end, it took the senators less than five minutes to move the bill onto the full Senate. The journey isn't over for the students, though. They will have to go back to the State House to testify again when their bill moves over to the House.