Walking in the Footsteps of Dimetrodons

April 23, 2008


Michele has been volunteering with the HMNS Paleontology Department in Houston for several months; she just got back from her first trip to Seymour, TX – where the Museum maintains a paleontology field program. Here’s her story:

After several months of studying under David Temple and the Paleo Prep station training at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I was fortunate to be invited to join their Seymour paleontology dig in April.

I have hunted for invertebrates for years, but nothing could prepare me for the experience I was about to have.

We were in the field, on a very blustery day and after hours of digging and removing dirt, I happened upon a large curve.  “This can’t be more Caliche,” I thought, and not sure of what I had found, I called Dr. Bakker (renowned paleontologist, and leader of the Seymour expedition) over to take a look.  You can’t imagine the adrenaline that was flowing as he excitedly replied “Wow! This is worthy of display and casting.”  I had uncovered a large humerus bone from a Dimetrodon.  Not only was I a newbie, I was hooked!  I was not the only one to unearth an ancient fossil. The discoveries of our mammal like ancestors were uncovered by members of the entire team throughout the week.  This was my most exciting find ever.


Every evening after dinner, we gathered around the table to recap our day and finds.  The discussions were in depth and thought provoking to say the least.  What I found in these discussions was not just the bones we had been searching for but also the mystery of how often Dimetrodon ate, how he lived, and how he spent his last days.  While in the field, I could visualize these massive creatures roaming the hills.

Don’t get me wrong, the excavation is a real rush, but there is so much more than just the dig.  It is the sharing of theories and ideas with the team and learning about these giant, 292 million year old Dimetrodon as I literally walk in the footsteps of these incredible animals.

– Michele Whisenhunt

Authored By Steven Cowan

Steven never dreamed his first job out of college would be in public relations, and on top of that working for one of the top museums in the country. After all, he majored in History at Vassar College. Within three months of graduation, he landed a spot in the PR department and has not looked back since. He is fast becoming a communications fanatic, spending a tremendous amount of his time promoting the museum and all it has to offer.

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