The bones of a dinosaur found in Denton County are now on display at Shuler Museum of Paleontology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The rare bones of a prehistoric plant eater are being studied by graduate students. Members of the Fossil Bureau of Investigation of the Dallas Paleontological Society are also studying the bones and the site where they were found to understand the prehistoric time period in which the dinosaurs lived.
“It’s an amazing find,” said Roger Farish, an adviser to Dallas Paleontological Society. “No dinosaur remains have ever been reported from Denton County until now.”
Denton resident Dan Bidleman discovered the first of the bones one day in December when he went fishing on a peninsula near Shady Shores on Lewisville Lake.
At the time, he said, he thought he had found a bone from a cow, although he thought the bone looked odd.
One day Farish walked into the body shop where Bidleman worked and noticed the “cow bone” on a desk.
He asked Bidleman if he could have the bone checked by a team at SMU, and paleontologists at the university confirmed that Bidleman had indeed found a piece of a dinosaur.
“I’ve always been a fossil hunter and always wanted to find a dinosaur,” Bidleman said.
Officials believe the bone belonged to a hadrosaur, a dinosaur that could measure up to 7 feet tall and 12 feet long.
Since his discovery in December, Bidleman has found 10 more bones. Bidleman said he also discovered about 20 large pieces of what appear to be parts of a dinosaur’s pelvic system.
Farish said the discovery is helping paleontologists confirm theories about what the geography looked like millions of years ago.
During the Cretaceous period, scientists believe much of Texas was underwater, so finding a terrestrial dinosaur is very rare, Farish said.
“There is plenty of evidence of prehistoric aquatic animals and bones across Texas, but very few dinosaurs,” he said.
Scientists believe that during the Cretaceous period, in which most dinosaurs lived, the earth was as much as 30 degrees warmer than it is today.
The earth’s warmth caused the ice caps to melt, which raised water levels, and during this time, much of Texas was underwater except for parts of North Texas and the Panhandle.
“This created a shoreline through parts of what is now North Texas,” Farish said. “Dinosaurs preferred to live close to water.
“It’s always exciting to make a new discovery,” Farish said. “Dan’s discovery is very significant and is now at an institution where it will help us understand and benefit future paleontology in Texas.”
In the meantime, Bidleman said, he will continue his search for more fossils.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
What you should do if you think you’ve found prehistoric remains:
If you find something that you think is a dinosaur bone, mark the area where you found it and take photos of it. Then contact a local university or the Dallas Paleontological Society and someone can have a look at it.