Big breaking news in the world of paleontology today: Back in '06, Lance Hall, a member of the Dallas Paleontological Society, was out doing what he digs most -- rootin' around for fossils. On this particular day, he was in Mansfield, west of Joe Pool Lake, when he espied something funky "embedded in a soft, powdery shale exposed by excavation of a hillside next to a highway," according to SMU's announcement. He just thought it might be some oyster shell. Not hardly.
Hall thought, well, he had something but wasn't sure what, so he took the find over to SMU's Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences -- figured maybe the paleontologists over there could tell him what the what that was. And, sure enough: It belonged to a 95-million-year-old flying reptile. Of course it did. Which is big news -- after all, this is a new genus and species of flying reptile, not just your run o' the mill pterosaur. And it's even got a name: Aetodactylus halli, so named for the man who found the thing.
According to SMU: "Aetodactylus halli would have soared over what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the Cretaceous Period when much of the Lone Star state was under water, covered by a vast ancient sea." I'll have to ask Schutze if he remembers this, though he might have been in Detroit at the time.
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But how big's the news? Made National Geographic today: "Long before six flags flew over Texas, a newfound species of winged reptile with an exceptionally toothy grin owned the skies over what is now the Lone Star State." Finally, an Unfair Park item about which the 6-year-old who lives in my house will get excited: Dinosaurs!