Witte Museum paleontologist part of dinosaur dig

National Geographic Society awards grant for study

SAN ANTONIO – A team of paleontologists, including a member from the Witte Museum, was awarded a conservation grant from the National Geographic Society to study an extraordinary fossil site in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Witte Museum curator of paleontology and geology Thomas Adams showed KSAT 12 News the remnants of the skull of a crocodile that he said was once 20 feet long.

Adams said the skull remnants, along with the bite marks on other fossils, shows that the crocodile was at the top of the food chain in the area at that time, even taking down dinosaurs.

He said the fossils are just a few of 2,200 collected from the Arlington Archosaur Site, which dates back about 95 million years.

"We have four different species of crocodiles," Adams said. "We have at least two different kinds of meat-eating dinosaur. We have at least one plant-eating dinosaur. We have three different kinds of large turtles. We have sharks, stingrays, fish, lots of invertebrates, mammals."

Adams said the site represents a period of time when most of Texas was under water.

"We know a lot about the early Cretaceous," Adams said. "We know a lot about the late Cretaceous, but the middle has actually been a mystery. And of course, now, we have a lot of information to fill that gap, and it's found here in Texas."

The team in Arlington will spend the next two years collecting data at the site.

"Unfortunately, it's also located in a future housing development," Adams said. "They're about ready to turn it (the site) over to the new homeowner in 2017. We will probably lose access to the site, we will probably lose the site completely."

Adams is leading the museum's first permanent dinosaur gallery, which will be opening in the spring of 2017 as part of the new Witte. 

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