A local paleontology educator discovered a piece of the pelvis of a duck-billed dinosaur in the far north end of Denton while driving his children to the park.
Most dinosaur bones found in Texas are located in the Cretaceous Woodbine Formation of North Texas, which is one of the hardest fossil sites to hunt and goes back about 98 million years. When Beau McDaniel, also known as “Dino Bo,” stumbled upon a patch of red-tinted dirt in the area last November, he knew he needed to pull over and check it out.
After searching for about 10 minutes, McDaniel found a piece sticking out from the ground that turned out to be part of a Protohadros’ pelvis.
“People believe that you just dig a hole and find dinosaur bones, and that’s just not how it works,” McDaniel said. “Mother Nature does all the work for you at actually removing stuff, so wind and rain are constantly washing away soil.”
Since November, he has found 17 bones in total. At least a dozen of them have been positively identified.
“[The Protohadros] is the only dinosaur that we find in the Woodbine,” McDaniel said. “He’s pretty much the only real dinosaur in the area.”
The Protohadros, which was first discovered in Flower Mound in the early 1990s, is a cross between a thumb-spiked Iguanodon and a Hadrosaur, like Ducky from the children’s film The Land Before Time.
McDaniel used the bone’s size and his extensive knowledge of geological maps to determine the species and the part of the skeleton. He also worked with paleontologists in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to confirm the bone’s identity and referenced Hadrosaurs, a thick book written by David A. Eberth about herbivorous dinosaurs.
“Typically, all the dinosaur bones from this guy have been found in the area neatly around the DFW Airport,” McDaniel said. “Finding one this far north has been kind of a big deal because it expands the territory and range a little bit.”
He also has worked with amateur paleontologist Bradley Carter, whom McDaniel calls the “Woodbine Wizard,” to help identify the Woodbine fossils. Carter said the Woodbine Formation consists of meandering river channels and deltaic environments that resemble the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana.
“A lot of the bones are tumbled and kind of beat up because it’s just a big meandering shoreline of sand dunes,” Carter said.
McDaniel said he plans to keep the fossils for his Dino Bo events, which are pop-up classes to teach children about paleontology through hands-on learning, but will donate the fossils, if needed.
“To me, it has more value in the community where kids can see it and get inspired into science things,” McDaniel said. “To expose them to something that they’re going to like — that’s the goal.”
Dino Bo will host “Dino Reveal,” where he will reveal the Protohadros’ pelvis and the rest of his findings, for adults and children on July 31 at Explorium Denton Children’s Museum. The event will run from 3 to 5 p.m. with activities for children and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for adults. Tickets cost $10, available online and at the door.