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Where to get started in finding Central Texas teeth and bones

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I'm a newbie who lives in the Austin area with a lot of passion for ancient life, but I'm having trouble making a decisive start with with my searches. I have a particular interest in large western interior seaway predators, most notably xiphactinus, but also the mosasaurs and sharks that lived in the area as well. Finding a vertebrae, of perhaps even teeth from these groups would be absolutely wonderful, but of the few creeks in the Austin area I've scouted, I've been able to turn up nothing besides gastropods. This is still despite heavily studying the sometimes confusing Texas geological maps


So with this in mind, how and where do I start? Are there any places in the Austin area where I may have some luck in discovering possible vertebrae or teeth? I'd love any advice, I'm eager to make a start but I'm quite alone and need a little bit of guidance.


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I've never hunted in the Austin area and I'm not familiar with the outcrops. That said it never hurts to ask for advice from people more familiar with the area. I'm sure some people who are will reply on this thread but I wanted to mention that Austin has a Paleontological Society and you'd probably learn a lot of surrounding outcrops from the members, newsletters, etc.. They also do field trips. https://www.austinpaleo.org/index.html

They are currently limited with Covid but they're still doing some activities and I suspect you'll be able to learn a lot.


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The advice to join a local club is always excellent.  Also if you do a search of the Forum you will find threads discussing collecting in the Austin area.  I recall that the Austin Chalk is not exceptionally fossiliferous.  Also your collecting targets are uncommon or rare pretty much everywhere, and they are highly sought for by legions of collectors, so you should be prepared to invest a lot of time (years) searching most weekends to build a decent collection.  You should not expect to walk a few local creeks a couple of times and make the finds that are on your wish list.



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I'm going to try and answer some questions and also respond to some of the earlier responses.


First off,  bones and teeth of those large vertebrates are generally rare. In the Austin area they will be strictly in the Upper Cretaceous Austin Chalk and higher and that means they will be along the east side of town or further east. You can get some good maps for this.  


The Austin Chalk Group includes several formations and some are rich and some are poor. My first trip to Austin I was lucky enough to encounter the Dessau Formation and I went home to NYC with two HEB bags full of fossils. Mostly inverts but also two mosasaur bones and a few shark teeth.


There have been a few amazing fossils found here or close to town. The Onion Creek Mosasaur is the best example but also a plesiosaur from Shoal Creek.  Which also brings the point that there have been shark and other reptiles found in younger formations. I have turtle and even crocodile from the Lower Cretaceous Glen Rose Formation.  But teeth and bone are not at all common.  Around Austin we are lucky sometimes and get a good exposure of the Eagle Ford Group. It occurs just below the Austin Chalk and it is known for plentiful teeth and bone. Mostly shark, small reptiles and one of the earliest mosasaurs.  There is a section of Shoal Creek that exposes the Eagle Ford but because it is a soft layer it is hard to find in outcrop. The trick, and source for many of us, is to watch for construction happening on it.  Again a great reason to get some of the excellent maps that are available.


Now if you are willing to drive five hours north there is the Sulphur River. You see it posted here a great deal.  That would be the place to go where your chances are the best. But makes some plans and get your butt up there sooner than later as they are about to impound a section of that river and the collecting will be underwater all too soon. Again do a search here on the forum for the skinny on the NSR.


Now as to the other advice about joining that local club...well I happen to be the current president and we would love to have you aboard.  Currently we are holding meetings via zoom and we ARE doing monthly field trips.  We have a open session after each month's presentation when you can ask questions or seek advice.  Meetings are always the third Tuesday of each month. Go to ur web site for more info.  And PS you do not have to be a member to attend a meeting. Meeting link Info is published in each month's newsletter and those can be found at the website.  But membership has other benefits so please join.  austinpaleo.org


Take care, good luck




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