You remember those glorious childhood days spent climbing through caves, inspecting rocks, pretending you were Indiana Jones unlocking some great archaeological secret. For one lucky four-year-old-boy, the daydream ended with the coolest possible reality.
Last fall, zookeeper Tim Brys was on a fossil hunt with his son, Wiley, in Mansfield, Texas. The area had been covered in water millions of years ago. In 2014, it was dug up to make way for a new shopping center, so it seemed like the perfect place to look for prehistoric items. Still, the father and son duo couldn't have expected to find what turned out to be, according to experts at SMU's Digital Earth Sciences Laboratory, a 100-million-year-old dinosaur bone.
"We were finding some fish vertebrae in the hillside, and then Wiley walked a little ways ahead of me and came back with a piece of bone," Tim . "And I paused and was like, 'OK, where did you find this?'"
Although Wiley made the discovery in September, it took several months for SMU's researchers to obtain the permits that enabled them to retrieve and examine the material. It appears the fossils belong to a rare species called the Nodosaur—an herbivore that lived during the late Jurassic to early Cretaceous periods, had hard plates on its back, and measured 15 feet long.
"My dad told me it was a turtle," Wylie . "But now he's telling me it's a dinosaur."
What a nice surprise.