Fossil of New Ankylosaur Discovered in Texas by Hillsboro Paleontologist

Monday, April 22, 2019

Andre Lujan loves fossils. Spend any amount of time at his museum "Texas Through Time" in Hillsboro and this paleontologist will fill your head with more dinosaur facts than you may be able to retain. And now Lujan has even more to teach museum goers as he recently uncovered the fossil of a brand new dinosaur in Texas.

“My first thought was ‘what am I going to do next?’”, said Lujan, who opened Texas through Time, nearly a year ago. “This is what I’ve always hoped and dreamed to do, and now it’s sitting in front of me on this table.”

Lujan discovered the new dinosaur on a dig in west Texas in 2017, and identified it as a type of ankylosaur.

“Its an armored dinosaur,” said Lujan. “It’s a four legged dinosaur. A tetrapod. A herbivore, so it eats plants. But imagine a cross between a horny toad, and an armadillo with a giant boney club on the end of its tail.”

It was potentially up to 18 feet long. According to Lujan, this fossil is significant, not only for it being a brand new dino, but for what paleontologists know about ankylosaur's in this region.

“Its the most complete, southernmost ankylosaur ever discovered in the United States,” said Lujan. “And also it is the most complete ankylosaur from north of the Mexican border where we discovered ours to the tip of South America.”

Now the real work begins. After having the fossil examined by Utah State Paleontologist and ankylosaur expert Dr. Jim Kirkland, who along with Lujan determined that it was different from the dinosaur they first believed it to be, Lujan will now have to go through the process of recreating a dinosaur from its remains. That process can be expensive.

“So we need funding to go out in the field to continue excavating to hopefully find more of this dinosaur,” said Lujan. “We need funding to get scientific dating of the sediment so that we can nail down the exact age of this dinosaur. And to do some quarry mapping, some 3-D imaging technology and so a professional reconstruction so we have a life size replica of what this dinosaur would look like.”

Even those processes may take a little time, Lujan is just happy to have unearthed history.

“You know discovering a new dinosaur is kind of its like (hitting) a homerun in the World Series,” said Lujan. “People always remember that.”