Amateur Paleontologist’s Bird Fossils Goes on Display

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Oldest bird fossil bones found in North America. Collected by amateur paleontologist Kris Howe of Carrollton, TX. Photo credit: Shelley Kofler/KERA News.

Paleontology is one of those fields where amateurs can, and frequently do make significant contributions. This is an inspiring story:

Imagine finding a few pieces of bone that lead to the identification of a new species. That’s what happened to one amateur North Texas fossil hunter whose discovery goes on display with Saturday’s opening of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

Kris Howe, of Carrollton, has been hunting fossils since he was 5. It’s something he did with his father, who taught him how to read the landscape and identify locations where the remains  might have collected millions of years ago.

He’s especially partial to an old river bed near Lake Grapevine where he stumbled across the fossils that would earn him recognition in the world of paleontology.

“If you look down the edge of this exposure you can see a difference in the color," Howe says as he retraces his path. “That area in between is an ancient riverbed. If you had something that would be deposited it would be in the riverbed typically."

Howe remembers walking the ridge five years ago when he saw something unusual poking up through the loose, crumbling shale.

“There was one little bone and a couple of feet from there was another little bone and that’s all really you could see,” he says. “I didn’t know what they were."

So Howe took the bones to paleontologist Tony Fiorillo, who's now the curator of fossils at the Perot Museum.

“It was material you’d expect to see at the bottom of a Kentucky Fried chicken bucket,” Fiorillo muses. “And you could have picked us up off the floor because we could recognize immediately he had a fossil bird.”

And not just any fossil bird. It was the oldest known bird ever found in North America -- about 95 million years old. And it was a new species to boot.

Read more about this amateur paleontologist's remarkable discovery.

This entry was posted in Amateur Science, History of Science, Ornithology, Paleontology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Amateur Paleontologist’s Bird Fossils Goes on Display

  1. Great Find Kris!

    Have a mysterious large bone found on our property at our previous property in Sanger, Texas. Any thoughts or help would be great.

    Also, some fossilized footprints as well.


  2. carl o'cles says:

    Just another example of an amatuer making a contribution to the science 🙂

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