North Texas

Wylie Family Finds Fossils Dating Back 65 Million Years

"Our message is, get out, get your families out, look at the ground"

A family in Collin County made a fascinating find last month when they discovered fossils from an animal that lived in the waters that covered Texas more than 65 million years ago.

The mosasaur remains were discovered along the banks of Lavon Lake by Tana Trent and her 11-year-old daughter Landry.

"Whenever we find something interesting, it just pings and I'm like, wow!" Landry Trent said.

The family of amateur explorers has made major discoveries in recent years. Tana and another daughter, Conoly, found more than a dozen fossils in 2017.

Then last month, two years to the day from the previous find, a set of small bones turned out to be an even bigger discovery.

"It's so amazing to just us, a regular family, to find something so extraordinary," Landry Trent said.

The fossils are from a mosasaur, a marine lizard that SMU professor Mike Polcyn said roamed the earth and seas for 35 million years.

Polcyn has studied mosasaurs for decades. His discoveries are on display in the Smithsonian.

"Every find is significant," he said.

But what makes the Trents' find, now preserved in a cast, so significant is that it reveals new elements of the mosasaur's limbs that Polcyn said were previously unknown.

"Every-day people, citizen scientists, can contribute so significantly to this area," Polycn said.

The discovery has resulted in days of digging.

Last week, Polcyn and his team found the skull, backbone, vertebrae and limbs of a mosasaur which, alive, looked similar to a killer whale.

Polcyn said much of North Texas was underwater during the days the mosasaur was alive, which is why the fossils were found at the lake that was created in the 1950s.

"We're sitting on some really neat historical items and it is here and our message is, get out, get your families out, look at the ground," Tana Trent said.

If you find fossils, Polcyn said don't touch them, and notify the Army Corp of Engineers.

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