Day Trips: Whiteside Museum of Natural History, Seymour
Ancient history comes alive near where the bones were found
Whiteside Museum of Natural History in Seymour may have the most famous collection of bones and fossils that you've never heard of.
About 60 miles southwest of Wichita Falls, the small agricultural town sits near one of the richest deposits of pre-dinosaur fossils in North America. The treasure trove of fossil discoveries began in 1882 with the Seymouria, a lizardlike creature which is a link between reptiles and amphibians.
The most incredible discovery at local dig sites by the museum staff has been the nearly complete fossilized skeletons of Dimetrodons. Visitors to the museum's main hall are greeted by models of the lizard-ish animal with a large sail along its backbone. Director Chris Flis calls these animals the largest land-walking life at the time they existed about 287 million years ago. T. rex came along about 68 million years ago.
Housed in a former auto dealership, the museum lets visitors walk through history from pre-dinosaur fossils, to stuffed historic animals, to a small menagerie of live animals native to the hills around town. In the back of the building is the laboratory where paleontologists work.
The Whiteside Museum of Natural History opened in 2014 as a gift to the community from retired judge Clyde Whiteside to study and publicize the treasures of the "Texas red beds" – a layer of red bedrock that contains a rich concentration of fossils. The museum opens daily except on Mondays. For information, go to www.whitesidemuseum.org.
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