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I made a trip to a different spot on the North Sulfur River this morning. I had been to this spot one time last year, but an unforecast rain shower showed up and turned the river into such a muddy mess that I turned around and left without finding anything. With a 100 degree high forecast for today, I didn't figure rain would be a problem.

 

I found some of the usual things you expect to find at NSR, Hamulus worm tubes, a gastropod, a perfectly preserved complete bivalve, some interesting bones, and lots of bacculites. The only bacculite I brought home was the one in this photo, with the great suture lines.
large.nsr02001.jpg.07d015bd9cfbb197aaf4d


 

Edited by BudB
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I thought these two bones were especially interesting. They look like mosasaur bones to me, but I can't tell from what part of the mosasaur. Here are views of both sides of each of them.
large.nsr02002.jpg.6c2bb19353e464454952e


large.nsr02003.jpg.4e7246f827960ce779349


 

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But today was the day for verts. And each time I found one, it was bigger than the last. First, I found this little shark vert. It's in pretty rough shape, but still put a smile on my face when I spotted it.
small.nsr02004.jpg.f4aa2a04c43d5d4617691


small.nsr02005.jpg.8b34928f377cea9505cc0


 

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Then I found this mosasaur vert.
large.nsr02006.jpg.6f4bb440ba6ad058cf47a


 

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Then I spotted this fish vert. This is the largest fish vert I've found.
large.nsr02007.jpg.44db2dc6a4bd3b36eb91d


large.nsr02008.jpg.8120d78d4df3f83d1ff44


 

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Posted (edited)

But if I thought that was going to be the biggest vert of the day, I was seriously mistaken. As I was on my way to leave the river, I spotted this. I'm assuming it's a mosasaur vert. How gigantic did that mosasaur have to be? I'm aware that mosasaurs grew to some pretty huge sizes, but I had no idea there were any this big that had roamed north Texas. Here are several views. It's over 10 cm in diameter (that's 4 inches in Texan measurement), and even taller than that.
large.nsr02009.jpg.575a0d9a7e6fe351d6fc0


large.nsr02010.jpg.4a9c9d6d736163792746a


large.nsr02011.jpg.af389314504cdad2b5ff4


large.nsr02012.jpg.223a8680b98e7bb353d8b


large.nsr02013.jpg.6150b21197a47740e1bd3


 

Edited by BudB
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historianmichael

Your big vertebra is not mosasaur. My guess is that it came from the Pleistocene gravels there. I defer to those more familiar with Pleistocene fossils for an identification. 

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, historianmichael said:

Your big vertebra is not mosasaur. My guess is that it came from the Pleistocene gravels there. I defer to those more familiar with Pleistocene fossils for an identification. 

Wow, that's interesting. The North Sulfur River is a deep enough riverbed that it cuts through a lot of layers, but I did not realize any of them were Pleistocene.

 

Edit: Now that I think about it, I do recall someone finding a mammoth tusk in a bluff wall at NSR, but it wasn't fossilized. Perhaps this is a mammoth vertebrae?

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ThePhysicist
40 minutes ago, historianmichael said:

Your big vertebra is not mosasaur. My guess is that it came from the Pleistocene gravels there. I defer to those more familiar with Pleistocene fossils for an identification. 

 

44 minutes ago, BudB said:

Wow, that's interesting. The North Sulfur River is a deep enough riverbed that it cuts through a lot of layers, but I did not realize any of them were Pleistocene.

 

Edit: Now that I think about it, I do recall someone finding a mammoth tusk in a bluff wall at NSR, but it wasn't fossilized. Perhaps this is a mammoth vertebrae?

 

This is actually a mosasaur, and a BIG one - knowing the deposit, it could be the "big guy:" Tylosaurus

 

Note that mammals have amphiplatyan vertebrae (or at leasts the few I know of), not opisthocoelous.

Dt6Bm5RWkAIvjHR.thumb.jpeg.98a903a60a58a188b941e949026f1a4f.jpeg

^ Rebecca Hawkins

 

Looks like maybe caudal?

@pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

 

 

 

Two-isolated-vertebrae-referred-to-Mosasaurinae-A-F-FHSM-VP-2218-a-mid-dorsal_W640.jpeg.314922a8794a37bf09a5e166927029a2.jpeg

^ Polcyn et al. (2008)

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historianmichael

I stand corrected. In quickly looking at the photos I thought that both ends looked flat. On a second look I see the slight concavity and convexity to either end. 

 

Congratulations on a big mosasaur find!

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, ThePhysicist said:

 

 

This is actually a mosasaur, and a BIG one - knowing the deposit, it could be the "big guy:" Tylosaurus

 

Note that mammals have amphiplatyan vertebrae (or at leasts the few I know of), not opisthocoelous.

 

 

Thanks for that. I had assumed it was mosasaur because I didn't know what else it could be. It certainly dwarfs any other mosasaur vert I've seen. Both this and the fish vert were completely buried in the mud. With the fish vert, one concave end of it was visible, and so I recognized it immediately. Not so, with this mosasaur vert. The convex end was flush with the mud, and it just looked like some old pottery piece as I walked past. Only the matrix that's still attached to that one side made me take a second look and pull it out of the mud. I get the impression that both verts were deteriorating pretty quickly in that wet mud.

Edited by BudB
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This view of me holding it really drives home just how big that vert is.

large.nsr02014.jpg.a79c9b299a3429f79939e

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  • 3 weeks later...
pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

Sorry for showing up late to the party like this. But with the move going on, life is absolute chaos for me, right now. Too many proverbial balls to keep an eye on! :blink:

 

Anyway, wanted to start off saying that it seems like you had a great hunt! Some really nice finds there! :D

 

On 6/16/2022 at 2:48 AM, historianmichael said:

Your big vertebra is not mosasaur. My guess is that it came from the Pleistocene gravels there. I defer to those more familiar with Pleistocene fossils for an identification.

 

And, yeah, when I saw the first two photographs of this huge mosasaur vertebra, I too was initially misguided into thinking it was something else. Though my first thought went out to plesiosaur, due to the vague heart-shape visible in these photographs.

 

On 6/16/2022 at 3:50 AM, ThePhysicist said:

Note that mammals have amphiplatyan vertebrae (or at leasts the few I know of), not opisthocoelous.

 

On closer inspection, however, the procoelous (rather than opisthocoelous) nature of the specimen became clear to me. And, as has justly been pointed out, this rules out some major suspects as the origin of the vertebra, basically leaving us with just mosasaur.

 

2000px-Centrum_Morphology_svg.thumb.png.85d260142365deb284a7e416eccfc262.png

(source)

 

On 6/16/2022 at 3:50 AM, ThePhysicist said:

Looks like maybe caudal?

 

You are correct in that this does indeed look like a caudal vertebra, more specifically a post-pygal vertebra, which is given away by the overall shape of the vertebral faces on the one hand and how relatively short the vertebra is on the other. Have a look at the below diagram to see how shape and position along the mosasaur vertebral column match up (source):

 

825322295_MosasaurvertebraeD.V.GrigorievPetrogradUni.thumb.jpg.e284598fb6780d96d9d204245b2f28c0.jpg

 

On 6/16/2022 at 10:38 PM, BudB said:

This view of me holding it really drives home just how big that vert is.

large.nsr02014.jpg.a79c9b299a3429f79939e

 

While this is huge, it's not the largest mosasaur vertebra I've seen to date, the largest being an unpublished specimen held in a private collection. Another giant vertebra, however, was posted here not all too long ago. And while there was some discussion on whether it was indeed a mosasaurian due to its enormous size - its bad preservation unfortunately not allowing for undisputed identification as in this case - I maintain that it was. And this certainly seems plausible when comparing it to this one, especially in light of it being a post-pygal one.

 

Much like pliosaurs (and crocodiles are supposed to do) - of which I've got a massive anterior caudal vertebra in my collection that well drives home how enormous these marine reptiles could get - mosasaurs likely kept growing their entire lives, leading to immense sizes in the oldest individuals of the largest species.

 

On 6/16/2022 at 3:50 AM, ThePhysicist said:

This is actually a mosasaur, and a BIG one - knowing the deposit, it could be the "big guy:" Tylosaurus

 

Considering this is a post-pygal vertebra, the size of its owner would've been immense in life. So I second your supposition that the most likely candidate for where this vertebra came from is Tylosaurus sp., more specifically, in the context of NSR, T. proriger.

 

A truly humongous find (pun intended)! :o

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Posted (edited)
On 7/4/2022 at 6:18 PM, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

Sorry for showing up late to the party like this. But with the move going on, life is absolute chaos for me, right now. Too many proverbial balls to keep an eye on! :blink:

 

Anyway, wanted to start off saying that it seems like you had a great hunt! Some really nice finds there! :D

 

 

And, yeah, when I saw the first two photographs of this huge mosasaur vertebra, I too was initially misguided into thinking it was something else. Though my first thought went out to plesiosaur, due to the vague heart-shape visible in these photographs.

 

 

On closer inspection, however, the procoelous (rather than opisthocoelous) nature of the specimen became clear to me. And, as has justly been pointed out, this rules out some major suspects as the origin of the vertebra, basically leaving us with just mosasaur.

 

2000px-Centrum_Morphology_svg.thumb.png.85d260142365deb284a7e416eccfc262.png

(source)

 

 

You are correct in that this does indeed look like a caudal vertebra, more specifically a post-pygal vertebra, which is given away by the overall shape of the vertebral faces on the one hand and how relatively short the vertebra is on the other. Have a look at the below diagram to see how shape and position along the mosasaur vertebral column match up (source):

 

825322295_MosasaurvertebraeD.V.GrigorievPetrogradUni.thumb.jpg.e284598fb6780d96d9d204245b2f28c0.jpg

 

 

While this is huge, it's not the largest mosasaur vertebra I've seen to date, the largest being an unpublished specimen held in a private collection. Another giant vertebra, however, was posted here not all too long ago. And while there was some discussion on whether it was indeed a mosasaurian due to its enormous size - its bad preservation unfortunately not allowing for undisputed identification as in this case - I maintain that it was. And this certainly seems plausible when comparing it to this one, especially in light of it being a post-pygal one.

 

Much like pliosaurs (and crocodiles are supposed to do) - of which I've got a massive anterior caudal vertebra in my collection that well drives home how enormous these marine reptiles could get - mosasaurs likely kept growing their entire lives, leading to immense sizes in the oldest individuals of the largest species.

 

 

Considering this is a post-pygal vertebra, the size of its owner would've been immense in life. So I second your supposition that the most likely candidate for where this vertebra came from is Tylosaurus sp., more specifically, in the context of NSR, T. proriger.

 

A truly humongous find (pun intended)! :o

 

Thanks for those details. I really appreciate it. For a rank amateur like me, this vertebrae may remain the crown jewel of my collection for some time.

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Agatized Deinonychus

Wow! What a found! That's a dream find for the NSR! I would put that on display. 

 

Total newbie here. I've been fossil hunting exactly one-time and it was at the NSR. I'm probably making a road trip out West next year for a couple of months, so I really need to learn more about the stuff.

 

I thought they flooded the NSR? It's a 5 hour drive for me, but I would love to go again. I didn't find much, and it was right before they were supposed to build the dam, but in four or five hours I think I found a small chunk of a mammoth (or something). I did probably walk two or three miles up river and back. I almost got bit by 3 copperheads. 

 

Is there a new spot to hunt on the NSR? Or did they postpone the lake? I would love to go again. I really could use some advice though. I have no idea what I'm doing.

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On 7/8/2022 at 1:38 AM, Agatized Deinonychus said:

Wow! What a found! That's a dream find for the NSR! I would put that on display. 

 

Total newbie here. I've been fossil hunting exactly one-time and it was at the NSR. I'm probably making a road trip out West next year for a couple of months, so I really need to learn more about the stuff.

 

I thought they flooded the NSR? It's a 5 hour drive for me, but I would love to go again. I didn't find much, and it was right before they were supposed to build the dam, but in four or five hours I think I found a small chunk of a mammoth (or something). I did probably walk two or three miles up river and back. I almost got bit by 3 copperheads. 

 

Is there a new spot to hunt on the NSR? Or did they postpone the lake? I would love to go again. I really could use some advice though. I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's not flooded yet. They're still building the dam. I've not seen an estimated completion date. The fossil park has been moved to the FM2990 bridge, and will move again when the lake fills.

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ThePhysicist

Via the temp park sign: "... water delivery anticipated to begin in 2025."

IMG_0453.thumb.jpeg.edd8b1beda26201368e54f2666379bd7.jpeg

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Agatized Deinonychus

Thanks for the replies. I think I'm going to go back soon. I read last night that they are going to have more than one access point to dry riverbed, even after it is flooded? That would be great, if it is still fossil rich in those spots.

 

What is the best way to hunt there? I've been once and just walked a few miles looking at the surface. Is this best? Should I dig around anywhere? Look in the banks? Is there certain things to look for? 

 

 

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