Lone Star Dinosaurs, Excavation Photo Album
Dinosaur Name:   Protohadros byrdi
Pronunciation:   (pro-toe-HAD-dros bird-eye)
Name Meaning:   Beginning hadrosaur
When it Lived:   98 million years ago, Early Cretaceous Period
Location of Dig :  
Flower Mound in Tarrant County

   In November 1994 while the Jones Ranch dig was still underway, an amateur fossil collector was looking around the site of a new road construction in Flower Mound. Gary Byrd realized that the likelihood of finding fossils in the black shale rock was slim to none. Why? The rock formed in stagnant, low-diversity waters along an ancient shoreline. But much to his surprise, Gary found what he believed to be dinosaur bones.

   Gary contacted some other fossil finders and, eventually, the Shuler Museum of Paleontology at Southern Methodist University. A crew of faculty and students from SMU worked to recover the bones first exposed, and, because none of the bones proved very useful in identifying the beast, they were ready to wrap up the project and move on.

   One graduate student, Yuong-Nam Lee, was left to mop up the excavation and bring back the plaster jackets with the few bones. Working diligently around the first meager bones, he came across the jaw of a duck-billed dinosaur. After a very excited phone call from a nearby convenience store back to SMU for more help, work continued and eventually, the whole skull was excavated.

   Hadrosaurs, the formal name of duck-billed dinosaurs, were believed to have migrated to North America from Asia. They were quite common during the Late Cretaceous Period. However, this particular specimen was determined to have lived 98 million years ago, making this one of the most primitive duckbilled dinosaurs ever found.

   Considering its age and unique features, paleontologists at SMU believed this to be a new species. So, just as with previous digs, a graduate student wrote a scientific paper, which was submitted for peer review and accepted for publication. The species was given the name Protohadros byrdi, the first part meaning “beginning hadrosaur” and the second part naming the person who initially discovered the bones, Gary Byrd.

   The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History proudly displays the Protohadros byrdi skull, a reminder to everyone that dinosaur bones are sometimes found where you least expect them.

Photo Album:
View photos of the Flower Mound excavation at a larger scale.


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