Prehistoric Willi found in Texas!!

11 Dec

So I haven’t posted since November 1st. One reason is I’ve been lazy, which is the main reason, and another is that I’ve been working hard at my current consulting job which means I can’t post while at work, which is when I used to do it. And of course my first post back is a nerdy one. Some paleontologists in Texas just found the most complete dimetrodon skeleton ever. And today I learned that a dimetrodon isn’t really a dinosaur, because it predates dinos by millions of years, but is actually more of an ancient mammal. Who know? Here are some quotes from the article:

Paleontologists have unearthed a nearly complete fossil of a dimetrodon, a reptile-like predator that roamed the Permian landscape 287 million years ago.

This weekend, the team is working to transport the 400-pound animal’s torso from its resting place in north Texas to Houston, where the fossil will be prepped for display in the newly renovated Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) paleontology hall in 2012.

Famous for the enormous fin on its back, dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur, although dimetrodons predated dinosaurs by millions of years. The creature could easily pass as a reptile, but dimetrodon wasn’t precisely reptilian, either: It was a synapsid, a category that includes modern mammals.

The dimetrodon, dubbed “Wet Willi” by the researchers after Samuel Williston, a paleontologist who dug at the site 100 years ago, was found in north-central Texas in the remains of an ancient sinkhole. The site has been a rich source of dimetrodon bones for decades, but the Houston team began the first meticulous exploration of the area five years ago. Since then, the researchers have turned up a number of partial dimetrodon fossils as well as the bones of smaller reptiles and amphibians.

But until this year, the researchers and their teams of volunteers hadn’t turned up anything as complete as Willi. The fossil was first discovered on a steamy day in June. David Temple, the associate curator of paleontology at the Houston museum, was digging a drainage ditch in the fossil site when he came across the dimetrodon’s jaw, full of steak-knife teeth.

At first, the team didn’t realize how intact the find was. Then a volunteer, children’s book author Kathleen Zoehfeld, uncovered the thin bones that once held up the animal’s sail.

“You’re constantly waiting for the bone to end and then that’s all there is, and you’ve got a fragment or something like that,” Temple told LiveScience. “But in this particular case, you know, we got the whole thing.”

And here is a picture of the skeleton, the bones in red showing those that were unearthed (Image care of the Houston Museum of Natural Science):


1 Comment

Posted by on December 11, 2010 in geekery, weird news


One response to “Prehistoric Willi found in Texas!!

  1. bookjunkie

    December 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    this is amazing!


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