Skelly students learn about Kansas symbols
Skelly students learned about Kansas symbols from Great Plains Nature Center on January 30.
Naturalist Rachel Roth brought an American Bison skin, horn, and live ornate box turtle for students to see during her presentation.
The oldest Kansas symbol is the state flower which is the wild native sunflower.
The state mammal (American Bison) can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Their thick hide is leathery and the fur is incredibly thick and warm. Herds once roamed freely around the prairie, but over-hunting drastically reduced the population. Now, herds can only be found on nature preserves and National Parks.
Cottonwoods, the state tree, have thick bark that is resistant to prairie fires. The bark also protects the trees from frigid winter winds.
While two meadowlarks are prevalent in Kansas, the western meadowlark is the official state bird. The two species are identical in appearance but have different songs. Instead of building nests in the trees, they make them on the ground by weaving blades of grass together, leaving only a small opening on one side.
The barred tiger salamander made it on the list of Kansas symbols because of a class of first grade students who wrote to congress and petitioned to have it named as the state amphibian. It is the largest land salamander species in the world.
Honeybees are the state insect, despite not being native to Kansas. A single hive can contain 80,000 bees and they are the only bee species that typically survive the winter. Their winter survival is thanks to the honey they make and store in the hive. They use it as a food source until more nectar appears in the spring.
The state reptile is the ornate box turtle. They are an omnivore and are distinct from other turtle species because they are not aquatic and they have a special hinge-like feature in the bottom of their shell that allows them to close themselves up inside of their shell. They typically live 30-40 years and gender is identified by eye color. Males have red eyes and females have yellow eyes.
Kansas has two state fossils: the tylosaurus and the pteranodon. The tylosaurus was a marine reptile that grew up to 45 feet long. The pteranodon was a flying animal and almost all fossils on display across the world originally came from Kansas limestone, which preserved the fossils well.
Four new state symbols were added in April 2018. The state rock is now greenhorn limestone, the state mineral is Galena (lead ore), and the state gem is Kansanite (Jelinite) which is only found under Kanopolis lake.
Thanks to a fourth grade student in Overland Park, the channel catfish was named the state fish.
In 2012, there was an attempt made to name the Cairn Terrier as the state dog, but it did not pass. This is the same dog breed as Toto from The Wizard of Oz.
Roth ended the presentation by inviting students to sing the state song Home on the Range.