Hometown Pride Tour: Baylor County Paleontology Site

Baylor County has been home to paleontology dig sites since the early 1900s.

"People have been digging here since 1909 so to say that you can put a bracket around how much time you can spend here. You can't, you can be here forever and ever," said Christopher Flis, Director of The Whiteside Museum of Natural History.

Digging continues in 2017 and the discoveries keep coming as well.

"The beds that contain the fossils here are so diverse, they're better than any other lower Permian Period bed in the world," said Flis.

The land that is being examined for fossils used to be a spot where animals gathered, likely for water.

"All of these animals are living next to this water system and year after year they're living and dying in a very healthy environment and we're seeing that story in the rocks," said Flis.

Mud is a great preserver of fossils as it lets the bones sink to where they won't be disturbed. That is until Flis and his volunteers discover them.

"We've got volunteers like retired school teachers, computer programmers, people that don't have any experience in the science field but fall in love with this the moment they walk into the museum," said Flis.

But it's not an easy task. The workers have to battle weather conditions, like rain and heat. Rain turns the only road in and out to clay making them impassable for days. Animals like snakes and cows don't make it any easier either.

"They're very curious, cows like tarps for some reason. So they do like to step on our bones," said Flis.

The work continues to produce great findings that have and will be shown off in the museum.

"The specimens are gorgeous that come out of here and to prep them is a privilege," said Flis.

Picks are used to remove the soil without harming the bones waiting beneath. Once a fossil is discovered, they dig around the skeleton and cover it with a plaster. The plaster, filled with fossils and Texas clay, is then flipped and topped with more plaster before being removed from the site and taken back to the museum. The museum and the dig site will continue their goal together as long as they can.

"Continue doing the research and keeping the fossils that we find here in Seymour forever so that the folks in the communities around here can finally have a chance to learn why this area is so incredibly important scientifically," said Flis.

The next big discovery, a fossil named Lee, will be ready to move in about a month. If you're interested in volunteering, you can call the museum at (940) 889-6548.

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