UNT plans activities for North Texas Fossil Day
What: North Texas Fossil Day, the University of North Texas’ observance of National Fossil Day. The event features a children’s fossil dig; displays of fossils of prehistoric fish discovered since 2010 in Denton and Collin Counties; a fossil identification table; planetarium shows and guest speakers.
When: 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 17 (Wednesday)
Where: UNT’s Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, 1704 W. Mulberry St., Denton
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- An evening walk along a dry creek bed and the digging of a backyard swimming pool led to discoveries during the past two years of fossils of predatory fish species that once lived in coastal waters that covered parts of the North Texas region.
The fossils of these creatures, who lived between 65 and 100 million years ago, will be among other specimens on display during North Texas Fossil Day at the University of North Texas Oct. 17 (Wednesday), which will also feature experts at a fossil identification table.
Activities for North Texas Fossil Day are scheduled from 1 to 9 p.m. on the first floor of UNT’s Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, which is located on the northwest corner of Avenue C and West Mulberry Street at 1704 W. Mulberry St. Admission is free. The event is UNT’s observance of National Fossil Day.
North Texas Fossil Day will include exhibits of fossils, meteorites and other archeological discoveries, including the skull fossil of an Enchodus, a fish with protruding front fangs known as the “saber-toothed herring,” and the lower jaw fossil of a Saurodon, a thin fish with a spear-like snout. Both fossils were discovered this past July on the property of Prosper resident Pat Jones during the digging of a backyard swimming pool, and are estimated to be between 85 and 90 million years old.
The Enchodus and Saurodon fossils will be unveiled to the public for the first time on North Texas Fossil Day. They will join a 250-pound fossil of the head of an Xiphactinus Audex fish, and a fossil of the right flipper of the creature, which lived between 100 and 65 million years ago. Discovered in late 2010 by Denton County resident Paul Jones and his daughter Maggie, the Xiphactinus fossils have been on display on the first floor of the EESAT Building since last April.
Other displays include skulls of early human species discovered by Reid Ferring, UNT professor of geography, and UNT graduate students at an archeological site in Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia; meteorites; dinosaur tracks uncovered from Lake Grapevine; and teeth from the Megalodon, an extinct shark species. At another exhibit table, a staff member from the Heard Museum in McKinney will demonstrate the cleaning of a fossil.
From 3 to 9 p.m., visitors to North Texas Fossil Day can have their archeological specimens identified by members of the Dallas Paleontological Society. George Maxey, UNT lecturer in geography and education director for the society, has been identifying specimens in the university’s Meteorite, Rock, Mineral and Fossil Identification Lab since it opened in 2010, and identified the Xiphactinus, Enchodus and Saurodon fossils.
North Texas Fossil Day will also have presentations on the Arlington Archaeosaur Site in northern Arlington, the largest current excavation site in the U.S.; meteorites and the demise of dinosaurs; and fossils commonly found in Texas, among others. Children may dig for their own mock fossils from 3:30-6:30 p.m., and UNT’s Sky Theater in the EESAT Building will show “Dinosaur Passage to Pangea” at 1, 2. 3 and 4 p.m. and “In Search of Megalodon” at 4 p.m.