The official State Dinosaur of Texas is up for a new name, based on
Southern Methodist University research that proved the titleholder has
State Rep. Charles Geren of Fort Worth filed a resolution Jan. 7 to
change the name of the state dinosaur from Pleurocoelus to Paluxysaurus
jonesi to correctly name the massive sauropod whose tracks and bones
litter the central Texas Jones Ranch. Peter Rose is the scientist
behind the name change: His master’s level study of dinosaur bones at
SMU eventually led him to dispute the long-accepted notion that the
large, sauropod bones found in and around the Paluxy River near Glen
Rose, Texas, were the same as Pleurocoelus bones first found in
Maryland in the late 1800s.
Rose determined it was a different dinosaur altogether – a
previously unrecognized genus and species he named Paluxysaurus jonesi,
after W.W. Jones, the owner of the land on which the fossils were
found. Once Rose’s discovery was published in 2007, Pleurocelus’ grand
Texas title no longer fit.
Geren filed his resolution on behalf of constituents at the Fort
Worth Museum of Science and History, which is a partner with SMU in
ongoing research at the Glen Rose site, about 60 miles southwest of
Fort Worth. Dr. Aaron Pan, Ph.D., the museum’s curator of science,
believes it’s crucial to get the record corrected.
"I think it’s going to be good for Texas paleontology and dinosaur
research in general," Pan said. "Peter Rose’s research has found that
it is a new genus and a new species. This dinosaur is unique to Texas,
and it is the most abundant dinosaur fossil found in the Glen Rose
SMU geological sciences professor Louis Jacobs, who was Rose’s
mentor, said that nobody before Rose had made an adequate study of the
sauropod bones found at the Glen Rose site. Jacobs has described Texas
as a kind of "free trade zone for the age of reptiles" since dinosaurs
from three different geologic time periods have been found in three
different geographic areas of the state. Paluxysaurus jonesi is
believed to have lived 112 million years ago during the Cretaceous
"It just goes to show that Texas is a great place to make great
discoveries – even when you might think everything has been found,"
Rose, 29, received his master’s degree in geological sciences from
SMU in 2004. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in paleontology at the
University of Minnesota, he concedes he is excited about the proposal
to change the state dinosaur’s name to correspond with his research.
"But when you come down to it, whether it’s a new species is not the
big question. More important are some of the bigger picture ideas about
how these organisms evolved and what they were doing when they were
alive. I hope the future work I do has some broader implications.
Currently I’m doing more climate research with implications, I hope,
for global climate change."
Source : Southern Methodist University