Prehistoric crocodile found in Texas fossil field

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramJuly 16, 2009 

ARLINGTON — Local fossil hunters have uncovered more than 50 bones from a prehistoric crocodile skeleton, including its thumb-length teeth, in far north Arlington.

It's the largest find of its kind at the so-called Arlington Archosaur Site, a well-preserved fossil field on 2,000 acres of private, undeveloped land near the Trinity River.

A group of students and volunteers led by Derek Main, a University of Texas at Arlington graduate student and lecturer, has been excavating fossils of prehistoric turtles, sharks, crocodiles and duck-billed dinosaurs from the site since last year.

On Tuesday, crew members worked feverishly with screwdrivers, putty knives, dental picks, spades and other sharp implements to dig up the fossils before vandals or rainy weather can damage them.

"We've been marathon digging since Sunday," Main said. "We're excited because it's the most crocodile matter we've found in one spot since we started this project."

Main estimates that the crocodile was about six feet long. The species was common in the area about 100 million years ago. During that time, the Cretaceous period, north Arlington looked more like the Florida Everglades or the Mississippi coastline, with giant reptiles roaming about, Main said. Archosaur means "ruling reptile."

"When you see the teeth, they are intimidating," Main said of his newest find.

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