Dinosaur bones estimated to be 100 million years old recently discovered in Mansfield by a 4-year-old boy are now on their way to Southern Methodist University in Dallas for further study.
The dinosaur bones were first discovered in September next to a Mansfield retail center that was under construction.
Since the discovery, experts have been digging and excavating near the Sprouts grocery store on Matlock Road and Debbie Lane.
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When all of that earth and dirt was dug up to make way for the shopping center, a Dallas zookeeper who lives nearby thought he'd be able to find fish fossils.
The whole area was covered in water millions of years ago, said the Dallas Zoo.
Zookeeper Tim Brys thought his son Wiley, 4, would enjoy going on a fossil hunt.
"We commonly go collect fossils as something we can do together to be outside. Wiley enjoys coming with me on my trips," Brys explained.
"We were finding some fish vertebrae in the hillside, and then Wiley walked a little ways ahead of me and came back with a piece of bone. And I paused and was like, 'OK, where did you find this?'"
Wiley didn't know it at the time, but what he discovered was a 100-million year old dinosaur bone, according to experts at SMU's Digital Earth Sciences Laboratory.
Talk about beginner's luck.
"It's probably a once in a lifetime opportunity," Brys said with a smile. "And he was four."
Experts believe the bones belong to a group of dinosaurs called the Nodosaur — about 15-feet long with hard, scaly plates on their back. Nodosaur's were herbivores, and lived in the late Jurassic to early Cretaceous periods.
Wiley was a bit camera-shy and didn't want to talk on camera, but like a true paleontologist he had no problem showing NBC 5 how to properly dig for dinosaurs.
At SMU's Digital Earth Sciences Laboratory the cement-and-plaster casing currently protecting the bones will be carefully broken apart over the next few weeks. Then, the bones can be analyzed and studied by expert paleontologists.
"It was awesome, it was really exciting," Brys said. "It's a really rare dinosaur, it's possible it could even be a new species."