Dinosaurs That Used to Roam Texas
These days we might look off to the side of I-20 and see cows and horses, but Texas wildlife managers say dinosaurs used to roam those same pastures. And some of them were huge!
We didn't have any "Jurassic" dinosaurs roaming Texas back in the day, like the long-necked Brachiosaurus or the thorny-topped Stegosaurus that we see in the movies, but Texas Parks and Wildlife does say there is evidence that at least 21 different types of dinosaurs may have roamed different parts of Texas. A handful of them lived in the Panhandle and Central Texas, but East Texas had its share too.
The Texas Panhandle has turned up fossils that have been traced to dinosaurs like the Technosaurus, which was similar in size to a large dog, but its teeth were a lot sharper because it had to shred the plants it was eating. These guys walked on four legs most of the time, but they could get up and run on their hind legs when they wanted to. Imagine how viral that would be on Youtube if dinosaurs had waited a few million years to exist.
Central Texas had some dinosaurs known as Deinonychus running around several million years ago, according to wildlife researchers, and they had some claws! One claw could be just as long and thick as some of our hands. Three or four of those long, sharp claws on a big paw, and the prey had no chance. Biologists say these guys had big teeth like saws to go with the claws, and probably hunted in packs. If they were around today we could put 'em to work on that feral hog problem.
Scientists think the Big Bend Region in West Texas might have been home to eight or ten different types of dinosaurs. One of the biggest and burliest might have been the Torosaurus, which Texas Parks and Wildlife says means "bull lizard" after the large cattle-like horns over the eyes. Its head was huge! The skull measured 9 feet long and the animal itself weighed 9 tons. If you have a 9-foot ceiling at your place, imagine a dinosaur head filling up that space in your living room.
Suddenly thinking about whether you might have a dinosaur fossil buried in your back yard? Me too. The closest place to home to walk in the tracks of these ancient creatures might be Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. The park says we can walk in the bed of the Paluxy River and find dinosaur tracks, and even map them with GPS. The park is located four miles west of Glen Rose. Take U.S. Highway 67 to FM 205 for four miles to Park Road 59; then go one mile to the headquarters.
It's hard to imagine what Texas might have looked like without all of the Whataburgers, Home Depots, and Walmarts around, but wildlife managers are sure there was a time when dinosaurs had the place all to themselves. No roads, no traffic, and a whole lot of dinosaur howls. Note to Hollywood -- we're waiting on that movie.