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Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 41, Part 6, originally published in 1942

Pleistocene Mammals from Kansas

by Claude W. Hibbard

Cover of the book; gray paper; black text.

Originally published in 1942 as part of Kansas Geological Survey Bulletin 41, pt. 6 and 7. This is, in general, the original text as published. The information has not been updated.


The following mammals are reported as new to the Borchers fauna from lower Pleistocene deposits of Meade County, Kansas: Canis sp., Felis? sp., Perognathus gidleyi Hibbard, Parahodomys sp., Ondatra sp., and Equus sp. Reported as new additions to the Jones fauna, from the upper Pleistocene of Meade County, are Perognathus sp., Onychomys leucogaster and Platygonus. Cynomys vetus, n. sp., is described from a Pleistocene deposit in Jewell County, Kansas.


During the summer of 1941, vertebrate fossils were collected from Tertiary and Pleistocene deposits in western Kansas by the University of Kansas Museum field party. Members of the United States Geological Survey who are working on cooperative projects with the Kansas State Geological Survey reported deposits containing fossils and collected some fossils in areas under their study. This material reveals a number of forms that are new to some of the faunas previously reported from Kansas, and permits record of some new fossil-bearing localities and horizons.

Each additional species found associated with a known fauna aids in giving a clearer picture of conditions as they existed at the time the mammals lived. A fauna becomes more important as a unit for correlative purposes when it is completely known, or nearly so. A number of the mammals may be more or less local in distribution and confined to special environmental conditions, but the majority of forms are presumed to be rather wide-ranging species. It is only through the careful study of local faunas, and especially of assemblages that include nearly all species existent at a given time and place, that any progress can be made in horizontal correlation. It is impossible to know the vertical range of a species and its relation to other forms until we possess a better knowledge of the sequence of faunas, and such is accomplished only by intensive collecting and cooperation of those working in the field.

I wish to express thanks to the following members of the United States Geological Survey and Kansas Geological Survey for their cooperation--S. W. Lohman, Herbert Waite, Thad McLaughlin, Bruce Latta, John Frye and H. T. U. Smith; and to the members of the 1941 field party,--A. B. Leonard, George Rinker, Ralph Taylor, Jack Twente, Henry Setzer and Henry Hildebrand. I am greatly indebted to H. H. T. Jackson, of the United States Biological Surveys, C. D. Bunker, of the Museum of Birds and Mammals, University of Kansas, and Colin C. Sanborn, of the Field Museum of Natural History, for permitting the study of the collections under their care. All drawings were made by Frances Watson. The specimens reported in this paper are in the University of Kansas Museum of Vertebrate Paleontology unless otherwise acknowledged.


No new records of mammals from the Rexroad member of the Ogallala formation were obtained, although teeth of Procastoroides lanei (Hibbard) and Nannippus phlegon (Hay) were collected from an outcrop in sec. 4, T. 34 S., R. 29 W., which is a new locality for upper Pliocene vertebrates in Meade County.

Plate 1

Explanation of Plate 1. [Note plate 1 has been enlarged and magnifications recalulated for web presentation.]

Cynomys vetus, n. sp.
1--Maxillaries (no. 6187, holotype) occlusal view, x4.
Perognathus gidleyi Hibbard.
2--Right maxillary, P4-M3 (no. 6154) occlusal view, x13.
5--Right ramus, P4-M2 (no. 5350) occlusal view, x13.
Perognathus sp.
9--Right ramus, P4 (no. 6042) lateral and occlusal views, x7.7.
Reithrodontomys pratincola Hibbard
3--Right maxillary, M1-M2 (no. 6467) occlusal view, x13.
11--Right ramus, M1-M3 (no. 6466) lateral and occlusal views, x13.
Ondatra sp.
4--Right M2 (no. 6475) occlusal view, x7.7.
Canis sp.
6--Left M1 (no. 6471) occlusal view, x2.7.
Felis? sp.
7--Right M3 (no. 6472) lateral view, x2.7.
Onychomys gidleyi Hibbard.
8--Left ramus, M1-M3 (no. 4669, holotype) lateral and occlusal views, x7.7. Rexroad fauna, upper Pliocene, Meade County, Kansas.
Onyehomys leueogaster (Wied)
10--Left ramus, M1-M2 (no. 6041) lateral and occlusal views, x7.7.

black and white line drawings of fossils described.


Borchers Fauna

The Pleistocene deposits of the Meade formation at Loc. 9, containing the Borchers fauna, were intensively worked in an attempt to find a more complete assembly of mammals. A description of the fauna already obtained at this place and a discussion of the stratigraphic relationship of the beds has been given by Hibbard (1941), and Frye and Hibbard (1941). The following are additions.

Order Carnivora

Canis sp.
Plate 1, figure 6

A fragmentary left M1 (no. 6471) of a young dog as large as Canis latrans was collected from Loc. 9. This tooth seems to be identical with the left M1 (no. 3915) of an older individual taken from an upper Pliocene deposit at Loc. 2, Meade County, Kansas.

Felis? sp.
Plate 1, figure 7

A carnassial tooth, right M3 (no. 6472), of a cat slightly smaller than a puma from Loc. 9 possesses a well developed heel and, in fact, resembles that tooth in Pseudaelurus. The tooth has an anteroposterior diameter of 16.9 mm.

Order Rodentia

Perognathus gidleyi Hibbard (Gidley's pocket mouse)
Plate 1, figures 2, 5

Perognathus gidleyi Hibbard, 1941, Am. Midland Naturalist, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 350, 351, fig. 9. Type locality, Meade County, Kansas, Loc. 3, upper Pliocene.

Eight fragmentary lower jaws, containing partial dentitions, and a right maxillary that are considered identical with the species found in the Rexroad fauna have been found. The right maxillary (no. 6154) possesses a complete dentition. The anteroposterior diameter of P4-M3 is 4.1 mm. The lower jaw (no. 5350) has only M3 lacking. The anteroposterior diameter of P4-M2 is 2.8 mm. M1 is larger than M2. Perognathus gidleyi is distinguished from P. pearlettensis Hibbard by its larger size.

Reithrodontomys pratincola Hibbard
Plate 1, figures 3, 11

Reithrodontomys pratincola Hibbard, 1941, Kansas Geol. Survey, Bull. 38, pt. 7, pp. 209,210, pl. 2, fig. 7. Type locality, Meade County, Kansas, Loc. 9, Pleistocene.

The type was based upon a portion of the right ramus bearing incisor and M1. Three more specimens have been discovered. A fragmentary right ramus (no. 6465) bears M1-M3, the M1 showing nearly the same amount of wear as the type. The anteroposterior diameter of M1-M3 is 2.8 mm. The massateric ridge is more pronounced in the fossil form than in Reithrodontomys albescens griseus (Bailey). No. 6466 is a fragmentary ramus bearing M1 and M2. The teeth are not as worn as in specimen no. 6465. The mental foramen is present and is slightly more anterior than the position of the foramen in the recent form R. albescens griseus. Anteroposterior diameter of M1-M2 is 2.2 mm. Part of a right maxillary (no. 6467) that contains M1-M2 was found. The anterior cusp of M1 contains no anterior groove nor evidence of a groove. The anteroposterior diameter of M1-M2 is 2.4 mm.

Parahodomys sp.

Fifty-three isolated molars (no. 6474), both upper and lower, referable to the above genus have been collected. The teeth range in wear from that normally shown by young individuals to a well-worn stage representing adults. No rami or maxillaries have been recovered.

Ondatra sp.
Plate 1, figure 4

Only a single tooth, a right M2 (no. 6475), has been found that belongs to this genus. It belongs to a young animal and is slightly smaller than the corresponding tooth in Ondatra zibethica cinnamomina (Hollister), which occurs in the Meade County area at the present time.

Order Perissodactyla

Equus sp.

The astragalus (no. 6473) and fragmentary molar of a horse are in the collection from Loc. 9. The astragalus is as large as those of Equus niobrarensis Hay, found at Loc. 8, Meade County, in the Jones "sink."

Jones Fauna

The following forms were collected at Loc. 13, Meade County, and are new to the Jones fauna. A more complete description of this fauna has already been published (Hibbard, 1940).

Order Rodentia

Perognathus sp.
Plate 1, figure 9

A fragmentary ramus (no. 6042) bearing P4, was found. Because of its fragmentary condition, the specimen can not be separated from either Perognathus flavus Baird or P. flavescens (Merriam) , which now live in southwestern Kansas. It is distinct from the other fossil forms known from Meade County.

Onychomys leucogaster (Wied)
Plate 1, figure 10

A single left ramus (no. 6041) bearing M1-M2 can not be distinguished from the Recent species living in the area at the present time.

Order Artiodactyla

Platygonus sp.

Two fragmentary molars (no. 6037) of a peccary were found associated with other mammal and Ambystoma remains.

Other Assemblages

Other vertebrate remains have been found recently at various places in Kansas. Chief in interest are the remains of a new species of prairie dog (Cynomys), found by H. A. Waite, of the Geological Survey, in Jewell County, Kansas.

Order Rodentia

Cynomys vetus, n. sp.
Plate 1, figure 1

Holotype--University of Kansas Museum of Vertebrate Paleontology, no. 6187, maxillaries bearing P3-M3, upper incisors and skull fragments of an old adult; collected by Herbert A. Waite, September, 1941.

Horizon and type locality--"Early phase of the Loveland loess" (brown zone, whitened by calcareous matter and containing large limestone concretions, occurring below the typical red phase), Pleistocene, sec. 3, T. 1 S., R. 10 W., Jewell County, Kansas.

Diagnosis--A prairie dog belonging to the subgenus Cynomys, smaller than C. mexicanus Merriam, P3 more circular in outline and not so oval, infraorbital foramina smaller, infraorbital process of the maxillary not as robust, supraorbital foramina notch better developed, maxillary teeth smaller and having narrower transverse diameter.

Description of type--A shattered skull of an old adult prairie dog smaller than Cynomys gunnisoni (Baird). The maxillaries are present and bear P3-M3. Part of the left orbit and zygomatic arch and the anterior tip of the nasals are shown by the specimen. The posterior edge of the zygomatic process of the maxillary is located on a line with the middle of M2.

Measurements (in millimeters) of the type of Cynomys vetus, no. 6187 KUMVP, and Recent specimens of Cynomys mexicanus Merriam, in the U. S. National Museum, from La Ventura, Coahuila, Mexico.
male symbole (Mars)
female symbole (Venus)
Crown length of P3-M3 13.2 14.8 14.6
Alveoli length of P3-M3 14.0 16.1 16.1
Greatest diameter of P3 2.9 2.9 3.0
Greatest anteroposterior diameter of P4 3.0 3.2 3.1
Transverse diameter of P4 4.45 4.6 4.5
Greatest anteroposterior diameter of M1 2.6 2.8 3.0
Transverse diameter of M1 4.5 5.4 5.2
Greatest anteroposterior diameter of M2 2.6 3.0 3.2
Transverse diameter of M2 4.5 5.1 5.3
Greatest anteroposterior diameter of M3 3.2 4.5 4.0
Transverse diameter of M3 4.3 4.5 5.1
Width of skull across infraorbital processes 15.3 19.0 20.7
Distance between LP3 and RP3 7.2 10.5 10.4
Distance between LM3 and RM3 4.0 5.2 5.5

In comparison with Cynomys mexicanus, P3 is more circular in outline, the palate narrower, and the molar teeth possess a shorter transverse diameter. M3 considerably smaller, also. C. vetus is distinguished from C. niobrarius Hay, from the Pleistocene near Grayson, Neb., by its much smaller size and the absence of a sharp, prominent ridge along the middle of the palate.

Cynomys ludovicianus Ord

The remains of fossil prairie dogs referable to this species, which is now living in Kansas, were collected from scattered localities.

A number of lower jaws, fragmentary skulls and other skeletal remains (no. 6286) were found by J. C. Frye in flood plain sediments of the intermediate terrace in sec. 27, T. 14 S., R. 11 W., Russell county, Kansas. The fossils were taken along a bluff from old burrows on the same level, 29 feet below the surface. These remains are indistinguishable from the Recent species.

Parts of another skeleton, including lower jaws and part of the skull (no. 517) were collected by H. T. U. Smith, August 30, 1941, in SE sec. 18, T. 1, R. 38 W., Cheyenne county, Kansas, 11 feet from the base of a 25-foot terrace along the Republican river.

The skull, lower jaws and other skeletal remains of the prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, were collected in sec. 35, T. 34 S., R. 29 W., Meade County, Kansas, from outcrops measured by Smith (1940, p. 101). At the point where these bones were collected there is a change in facies, so that the beds do not correspond with Smith's measured section, although they were taken 17 inches above Smith's zone 7, and 13 feet below the soil zone, from a resistant bench composed of interbedded light reddish-brown to buff silt and clay.


Frye, John C., and Hibbard, Claude W., 1941, Pliocene and Pleistocene stratigraphy and paleontology of the Meade basin, southwestern Kansas: Kansas Geol. Survey, Bull. 38, pt. 13, pp. 389-424, pls. 1-4. [available online]

Hay, Oliver P., 1922, Descriptions of species of Pleistocene Vertebrata, types or specimens of most of which are preserved in the United States National Museum: U. S. Nat. Mus., Proc., vol. 59, no. 2391, pp. 615, 616, pl. 122, fig. 7.

Hibbard, Claude W., 1940, A new Pleistocene fauna from Meade County, Kansas: Kansas Acad. Sci., Trans., vol. 43, pp. 417-425, pls. 1, 2.

Hibbard, Claude W., 1941, The Borchers fauna, a new Pleistocene interglacial fauna from Meade County, Kansas: Kansas Geol. Survey, Bull. 38, pt. 7, pp. 197-220, pls. 1, 2. [available online]

Hollister, N., 1916, A systematic account of the prairie dogs: North Am. Fauna, no. 40, pls. 1-7, figs. 1, 2.

Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web March 30, 2012; originally published in Aug. 1942
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