Is your town named after a prehistoric dinosaur? Well ours is. At one time, dinosaurs roamed our area and now there's proof. A dinosaur found in the Post Quarry was named after the city it was found by, Post, Texas .
The Permian Sea used to cover areas under the Caprock in what is now Texas.
It stretched from what is know the Pacific Ocean to what is now Montana. At some
time during the Triassic, the sea died to what is now the United States of
America, uncovering a vast humid forest with prehistoric animals
However, in the last ten years, more sites were uncovered. We now have 623 known fossil sites and possibly more are unknown. When the dinosaurs first roamed this part of Texas, during the Triassic, there were vast forests and the Permian sea. At one point in the Triassic ( evidence shows), nine comets hit the Earth. These comets changed the climate to where the Permian Sea was no more. Many dinosaurs started growing longer and taller. Some of the dinosaurs moved to west Texas where the Permian Sea was. 110 million years after this, a asteroid 6 miles in diameter hit the Yucatan Peninsula, what is now Mexico, and killed all the dinosaurs. Over time, the dinosaurs were buried under dirt and solidified into rocks called fossils. 165 million years later were found under a mound of dirt on a vast plain. Much different that the Prehistoric times when they roamed the Earth. There have been more findings than just the Postosuchus, it was called the Shuvosaurus and this strange reptile had a beak like a bird which scientist believe was used to crack open nuts and to get seeds to feed on. In the area where they found the dinosaurs they think there was a giant river, which the prehistoric animals lived and fed off of. They also found crocodiles, birds, and other mammals big and small. The fossils were found outside of Post in Boron Canyon. Dr. Chatterjee started searching in Post because he says there has always been fossil in this area and nobody had ever tried digging. There have been many finds since the Postosuchus, and There are sure to be many more finds to come.
Who, when, and How were the fossils were discovered
During that time, different dinosaurs covered the area which included what is now Texas. This went on until 165 million years ago. No one knew that dinosaurs roamed these parts until Dr. Sankar Chatterjee found a dinosaur August 21, 1980 on that was 20 feet long, walked on its hind legs and was a meat- eater. It was officially called the Postosuchus and was later know to be the oldest fossils skeleton found in the world. Since then, more dinosaurs have been found as well as lizards, crocodiles( suggesting that this part of Texas was once a body of water), and other reptiles. While digging in Garza County Dr. Chatterjee found three small Postosuchus that would equal up to one big one. The site that the fossils were found on was located nine years ago.
We had the most amazing experience interviewing a doctor, who found a fossil and named it after our town. His name is Dr. Sankar Chatterjee, and he is one of the most famous archeologist on bird fossils around the world. The dinosaur he found here, turned out to be the oldest in the world.
1. What attracted you to the fossil sites in this area?
"The fossil sites in this area has been known for many, many years, for a
hundred years, ok. But they haven't been explored before because they were all
on private land. But in the past, many universities like West California,
Harvard, UT Austin became available to explore missions have spent 30 to 40
years right here in this area here. ok? Simply because the place was known but
one of them will come and do little prospect but they haven't found much. But
since 1980, Texas Tech got interested and we started doing very systematic
explorations and once while on National Geographic Society and the interest was
extremely vaguely .ok? And for the spirits, God make the land and you can go and
watch. But in Texas, that's not the case, you know. All these lands belong to
private property. You have to have a super good sense of adventure, and if you
don't have that, it won't work. So in the very first years, we found so many new
things and the interesting thing was that Texas Tech found them in our own
backyard. You know you can drive one hour and reach it. But its very difficult
because it is very adventurous because it is very stinky because sometimes you
have to walk miles after miles until you find a little bone here and there. But
what is in a 30 years time, we have made one of the largest collections . See,
if someone wants to know about the early dinosaurs, early birds, early mammals,
anywhere in the world, this is the place to look for."
2. And speaking of finding fossils, exactly how long does it take you to find out what type of fossil it is and how old it is? The timing varies, you know, on some of the fossils that we found over the years, ok. We can instead believe that this is this and this is that, because some of this equipment. But if something is very fragile, very small, dingy then it takes time, you know. Because we found so many new things we have to study, you know. And for those very fragile, you have to send it to the lab, you have to peep at it under a microscope, there are many factors you have to join in, you have to peek across, which can take three to four years. Then you have to write it out. You have to publish and empty our you journal. So it takes time you know it could take four or five years.
3. What is your most exciting experience you had finding fossils? Well, we know we found the earliest fossilized bird in the whole world, ok. We found many new dinosaurs. You know, we found a dinosaur we named after Texas Tech, the Technosaurus. We found another dinosaur that we named after Post called Postosuchus. In fact, there's a movie by NBC that shows Postosuchus for a long time. So everybody knows Postosuchus means that they want to know where this little town, Post, is. But our most exciting discovery was maybe finding the earliest bird, Perprivous.
4. What was the earliest fossil found in Post? Yes, they are all about the same age, which is about 255 million years old. But the bird we found in Post [Protoavis], which is maybe 75 million years older than the earliest bird from Germany.
5. And have you ever discovered a fossil that hasn't been named? Oh yes! We named so many new things as I said we named one dinosaur after Post, called Postosuchus. We named one called Cotoaluvier. We named one after Texas Tech, Technosaurus. We named another dinosaur called Shuvosaurus. We named on little animal after the rancher, Idevilie. So yes, we named many things. We found many new animals. And think about this big of thing in a movie called Walking Dinosaur. I'm sure its a great movie. And then when we find this Postosuchus in the beginning, it took us a half an hour. It was in a light position, you know. Other people are finding Postosuchus in other parts, you know. From North Carolina, from Israel. But what about the finds, you know. They have to name it after Post, you know. The Postosuchus has became one of the standard variety.
6. Have you ever gotten a dinosaur named after you or after something you liked? I can not name it after me, you know. That's one thing but I named one after our university and after the local's ranch where I found it, and named after another student. So we can name anything after anyone.
7. Do you remember your very first experience you felt on your very first or dig? I think it was the summer of 1980. It was very hot. I think it was 500 people that died because of heat stroke. We were working in oh I think it was 120 degrees. Hot, and for two to three days we were digging and digging and finally we started finding, you know, and even in the very vast of animals we found, that is Postosuchus, which is named after Post. But we found quite a bit. In fact, if you ever come to the museum at Texas Tech, you can see these animals. Things are now, you know, part of the exhibit.
8. What is the most unusual or unique dinosaur you found in this area? One of the unique dinosaurs we found is called Shuvosaurus, and that's the only dinosaur that doesn't have any teeth. It is a toothless dinosaur, like a bird, ok. They probably didn't crack. They used to crack seeds and nuts, like some modern birds. And that's a new dinosaur and that's also very interesting.
9. So do you think maybe in the future you could find more fossils than what you already found?
Oh yes! You know so far we barely scratched the surface. Its a huge area and the ranchers are very friendly. But it takes real hard work, like you know a couple of months. We found a brand new animal. So it may take it up to two to three years to name it, you know, to publish it. But yes, this is like a gold mine. You know, for me, its just like as if you and your children can watch. You know, its a very, very rich area, very interesting area. Its hard, but its worth it.
10. What is being done to preserve the fossils for future generations so they can view them? Right! You know they are now accepting all the specimens here at the museum, ok. So this is the primary house, and I told you that people from all over the world come to me to study the specimens, you know. A lot of times we get gifts from Germany, England, Argentina, Africa from all over the world's places .And for you, children, you know we have done these dinosaur exhibits, so you can come and know everything and your history. You can know how the environment is changing over time. For example, during this age of the dinosaurs can you imagine it was like a forest or a tropical forest. There were trees 200 feet tall. There were bigger rivers, bigger than the Mississippi. So, what happened, they're all gone. So we study these fossils so we can know the past world.
11. And do you have any prospect on what you think might have happened to the dinosaurs? Ok. I really think, in fact we found a large crater in India and Mexico, so I think two large meteors hit the Earth, in fact. Which really caused holocaust, you know, global fire. And its like millions of nuclear bombs exploding in one place. And I think this meteor bombardment, that was the cause of the death of the dinosaurs.
12. What other prehistoric fossils have you uncovered besides dinosaurs, like mammals? Have you ever discovered any birds this early? We discovered many birds not just from this area. We went to China. We went to Antarctica, so yes, we discovered many other animals.
13. Is there anything else that you think is important for people to know about the fossil sites?
I think so but I think you maybe proud because you are from Post, you can tell your friends, your family that look. If you want to know about the very early dinosaurs, very early birds, very early mammals, this is the place. This is the age and you all can visit them here so we can all know the millions of years of history. You all are very lucky that the gold mine is in our backyard. People have to travel hundreds of miles. For example, you know, we went to China; we went to Antarctica, thousands of miles. Its so difficult and yet, this is just our backyard.
14. Are there any books you have published on Paleontology? Oh yes, many, many, many people have books, you know. That's the thing, we have to do that.
15. Have you ever published any on Post? Everything, you know, like I was talking about Postosuchus was published in the big monograph, the bird, everything has been published. You know, what we have found, everything has been published.
16. And do you like going on excavations and diggings for fossils and stuff like that? The excavations. I have to teach and so some of the only time I can spend but this is very good time; but yes, all the time like it when we can go and we find shedding. But we want to caution you, when I become old, I think my students will call to you and then they'll call to you, ok. But I think we started a very important thing and it can be called to you by many other workers.
17 a. Are sites open for visitation? While we're working, yes. But the ranchers want to keep, want to protect the place. Otherwise people will come and vandalize. But , sure, the permission of the ranchers, we can, you know, make arrangements.
17 b. So you make the arrangements through the department of the ranchers? Yes! You know, maybe a phone call will do it. Sure, you know, like if it was like a school from Post, you know. If you want to visit, they'll be happy. But there should be someone like us, you know, at that place. Otherwise you wont be able to see anything.
18. Have you found anything from like the ice age here? Ice age, yes. You know, there's lots of them, but that's not my specialty but all that area is available to find ice aged mammals; mastodon is very common, actual living horse. All kinds of things; If you come to the museum, you'll be able to see them.