Texas Living

The Hunt for Texas’ Prehistoric Dinosaur Fossils

By Peter Simek 1.7.19

Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the world, the landscape of Texas did not resemble its now iconic shape. An ancient sea lapped up against a coastline that ran through what is now the center of the state. Today, fossilized remnants of this world can be found along creek banks, shallow pits, and other sites that stretch from the Red River, through Glen Rose, and out toward the Rio Grande Valley in West Texas.

Texas is one of the best places in the U.S. for dinosaur fossil hunting and boasts a handful of fossil parks where families can dig in the dirt in hopes of finding ancient remains. Preserved archaeological digs and plenty of more obscure locations have rewarded intrepid and observant fossil seekers over the years with incredible finds.

Here are our favorite spots for fossil hunting in Texas.

Post Oak Creek, Sherman

The Travis Street Bridge of Post Oak Creek offers easy access to a creek bed that’s been known by fossil hunters for years as a cache for Cretaceous period relics. A bevy of preserved oysters can be seen in some of the rock formations in the water, and fossilized shark teeth and seashells can be found amid the rocky pebbles that line the creek.

Lake Whitney, Whitney

On the shores of Lake Whitney, don’t limit your search to the state park. Many of the local parks along the water’s edge offer glimpses of dinosaur fossils. Get in the dirt to find gastropods, cephalopods, and more. You may have the best luck during the summer months, when the lake waters recede.

Ladonia Fossil Park, Ladonia

Around 75 miles northeast of Dallas, this East Texas dinosaur fossil hotspot offers quality hunting grounds for digging up mammoth bones, mosasaur bones, ammonites, bivalves, and shark teeth. Year-round programming including kids’ science classes and expert speakers makes it a must-visit spot on any dinosaur fossil hunter’s list.

Mineral Wells Fossil Park, Mineral Wells

Eroded borrow pits in Mineral Wells revealed a trove of Pennsylvanian Period specimens dating back 300 million years. Volunteers from the Dallas Paleontological Society help manage the site where the ancient sea has left crinoids (sea lilies), echinoids (sea urchins), pelecypods (clams and oysters), brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, trilobites (arthropods), plants, and teeth from primitive sharks.

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose

The world-famous Paluxy River contains the preserved footprints of dinosaurs, which draw thousands of visitors every year.

Waco Mammoth Museum

Waco Mammoth National Monument, Waco

At the state’s newest fossil mecca, inducted by President Barack Obama in 2015 into the national park system, visitors can view 24 incredibly preserved fossilized skeletons of Columbian mammoths.

For more Texas treasures, learn where to find lightning whelk shells on Gulf Coast shores and when to see Padre Island’s magical sea turtle hatchings.

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