A Web Page by Roy J. Beckemeyer (send mail to royb at
Last updated: 16 June, 2012

The Site:

The famous Elmo, Kansas Permian insect site

The Elmo, Kansas fossil beds.  Photo taken by Roy Beckemeyer, September, 1999.  (The site was being worked under lease from the owner at that time by Jason Dinges of Hays, Kansas.)

The pick is resting on what should be the insect-bearing layer (top arrow).  Beneath that layer is a layer of black shale (bottom arrow) containing fossilized branches and trunks from an ancient swamp.  The Elmo site is in southern Dickinson County southeast of the town of Elmo.

Unfortunately, because of the abuse of some visitors to the site, the landowners (the Piper family) no longer allow access to the locality.




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Generalized Elmo Section by Joseph Hall


Right: Click on this thumbnail for a map of the Permian Insect beds in Kansas and Oklahoma.




Left: Click on this thumbnail for a Generalized Cross Section of the Elmo deposits as drawn by Joseph Hall, a Master's Degree student in Geology at Wichita State University.  Note that the names of the various limestones are unofficial, working "bed names" and not officially recognized stratum designations.   See J. D. Hall, 2004 in Bibliography for Joseph's MS Thesis.




The Paleontologists Who Worked at Elmo:


Frank Carpenter at the Elmo site


This is a picture of Frank M. Carpenter, of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, in the field at Elmo during one of his many trips to the site.  Carpenter was the premier insect paleontologist working the Kansas and Oklahoma Permian sites (indeed, he was one of the premier scientists in the world working with fossil insects).  Photo courtesy of Liz Brosius of the Kansas Geological Survey, who was editor of Carpenter's Hexapoda volumes in the Geological Society of America's series: Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology.

 Some of the paleontologists who worked the Elmo site:

(Revised 6 June 2012 with newly discovered photos of Tillyard at the Elmo site in 1928)
Kansas Workers

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Right: Some current workers who are interested in palaeoentomology in Kansas (May, 2003), from left: Dr. Michael Engel, Kansas University and KU Natural History Museum; Rex Buchanan, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS); Liz Brosius, KGS; Iralee Barnard, Dickinson County resident; Michael Morales, Johnston Geology Museum, Emporia State University; Joseph Hall, Geology Grad Student, Wichita State University; David Kohls, student of fossil insects.

Insects described from Elmo:

Fossilized wing segment of protorthopteran Lemmatophora typa from KSUThe picture at right is an image of a segment of a fossil wing of Protorthoptera: Lemmatophora typa Sellards 1906 made by Roy J. Beckemeyer in September, 1999 from a specimen in the Kansas State University Entomology Department collection.  The specimen had been identified by Frank M. Carpenter.  Permission to scan the fossils given by Ralph Charlton of KSU.  



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An issue of The Kansas School Naturalist titled "The Permian Insect Fossils of Elmo, Kansas" (Vol. 46 No. 1, 16 pp., February, 2000, by Roy J. Beckemeyer) is available.  A copy of it can be obtained free of charge from Emporia State University: Kansas School Naturalist, Div. of Biological Sciences, Box 4050, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas 66801-5087.  (Although a donation of one or a few dollars to the Kansas School Naturalist Endowment Fund would help to fund additional publications in the series in the future. - Roy Beckemeyer)





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