Four-plus years after discovery, prehistoric sea serpent nearly ready for display




Posted on October 12, 2012 at 7:46 PM

McKINNEY -- Imagine a sea monster as big as a DART bus, with a mouth full of giant teeth that can devour its prey in one fast gulp.

It sounds like a scene out of Jurassic Park. But, it's actually the description of a mosasaur, an 82-million-year-old serpent, found along Duck Creek in Garland. It's a story we first told you about more than four years ago.

It's tedious work that requires great patience and steady hands for Dallas Paleontological Society volunteers. They put in thousands of hours, carefully chipping away rock from the ancient bones of a mosasaur.

"This would have been about 40-to-45 feet in life, about the size of a bus," said Darlene Sumerfelt of the Dallas Paleontological Society. "It would've weighed eight tons and could've eaten you in one bite."

Eighty-two million years ago, what is now North Texas was underwater. The mosasaur was known as the "T-Rex of the ocean," because of its terrifying teeth.

Fossil Hunter Denis Oktay discovered the mosasaur bones while walking the banks of Garland's Duck Creek. It took volunteers two-and-a-half years to excavate it, and bring chunks of limestone to the Heard Museum in McKinney.

"Finally, we got it all out," said Rocky Manning, of the Dallas Paleontological Society. "We've prepped it. And we're about at the point of displaying it. So it's a real sense of accomplishment."

What seemed like an impossible task more than four years ago has almost been accomplished. After Oktay discovered the mosasaur, the land owner considered selling it on eBay, or even charging people to see it. But he changed his mind and donated it to the Heard.

"It's very exciting that is was found locally," Sumerfelt said. "I think it's great that people can see what was actually swimming in the oceans when this area was underwater."

The Garland mosasaur is expected to go on display at the museum in early 2013.