Plano high school class finds rare-dinosaur bones

Liz Arroyos and her classmates scoured the blue-gray creek bottom behind her school.

The Plano West Senior High School students were outside to learn a little something about digging for clues to the past. When class ended, she hoped she had something good in the rocks she clasped in her hands.

"I'm not really a paleontologist," said Liz, a junior at the school. "I was just messing around and picked up something I thought the teacher would like."

Biology teacher Wesley Kirpach looked at the rocks. A brittle brown material piercing a piece of chalk caught his attention ­ it was a bone, some type of reptile.

What was inside Liz's rock would not only please her teacher, but ultimately bring excited scientists from Southern Methodist University to the school grounds for a full-fledged dig that took place last week.


'Pretty rare'

Mike Polcyn, a paleontologist at SMU, soon arrived and identified the object. Kirpach had stepped on fossilized neck bones of a Platecarpus, a 12- to 15-foot marine lizard with flippers and multiple rows of peg-shaped teeth. It probably roamed a large sea that covered most of Texas 85 million years ago.

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