Finding Fossils In Seymour

Finding Fossils In Seymour

Seymour may be the home of the Fighting Panthers, but it's also a hotbed for reminders of animals past.

Members of the Whiteside Museum of Natural History in Seymour are uncovering fossils from 287 million years ago.

The discovery of a mostly intact big-bodied Eryops is helping paleontologists get a glimpse of what the ecosystem was like when dinosaurs and giant lizards roamed Texoma.

"An Eryops is very exciting, because it's the last of the terrestrial land-walking amphibians. Frogs aren't going to show up for another 50, 60 million years, explained Christopher Flis," the Whiteside Museum Director.

While Eryops are fairly common this area of the world, finding one in such a well preserved state is very rare. Just the skull of the Eryops is almost two feet long, which Flis says is extremely large for an amphibian.

"His whole body would be about 6 feet long, and he would be about 300 pounds. So if you could imagine a 300 pound salamander, that's what we're looking at," Flis said.

Scientists have a hard time deciphering where the Eryops name comes from because it doesn't stem from any perfect Latin term or root. The best guess is that Eryops means wandering or drawn-out face, referring to its fat, wide skull.

Charla George, one of the museum and the dig's volunteers, explains what life at the site is like.

"You go through there in you'll start plinking and digging and scratching the surface until you find something. And then you'll either go bone or rock."

George hopes the Eryops, as well as the unheard-of discovery of an Edaphosaurus community, will bring more people to Seymour.

"There's a whole list of things that could happen, but primarily it would be to bring some kind of tourism business to Seymour," George said.

And with minerals and other elements providing the perfect environment for fossil preservation, scientists could flock to Baylor County as well.

"If a scientist wants to learn about the beginnings of amphibians and reptiles, he comes right here to Seymour," Flis said.

Flis and his team will continue to dig through the winter months.

Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6