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January 22, 2013

Digging up prehistoric history

Sea monsters once swam through Delta County.

Gary Wallace found the fossilized remains of an extinct marine reptile known as a mosasaur. Something of an amateur paleontologist, Wallace said he has previously found mosasaur fossils in the area.

“Not like this one though,” Wallace said, adding the fossil he and his son discovered in the fall of 2011 was different from the rest. “This boy has rounded teeth.”

Wallace said the mosasaur was an example of Globidens alabamaensis. Like other mosasaurs, Globidens could grow to about 20 feet in length, and had a streamlined body with a flattened tail and powerful jaws.

But what made Globidens different were the rounded, or globular, teeth.

Wallace said the remains were discovered in October 2011 in a dry shale creek bed on a friend’s property between Pecan Gap and Ben Franklin.

“This one is the very first to have been found in this part of Texas,” Wallace said of the Globidens species.

Wallace, who lives just south of Campbell, said he has been a bone hunter since 1980.

“I’m just interested in artifacts and fossils,” Wallace said.

And the hunting has been good in Northeast Texas.

“There are a lot of fossils that come out of the Sulphur River area,” Wallace explained.

The fossil Wallace found included the jaws, teeth and portions of the mosasaur’s body and he noted it has attracted interest from several sources asking him to donate it; including Southern Methodist University and multiple museums.

“I’m not a donator,” Wallace said. “I put a lot of work into that.”

He is not ruling out maybe turning it over to a museum someday, but intends on holding onto the fossil for the time being.

“I plan on getting him together eventually,” Wallace said.

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