100 Million-Year-Old Coelacanth Fish Species Discovered in Texas

Pieces of tiny fossil skull found in Fort Worth have been identified as 100 million-year-old coelacanth bones, according to paleontologist John F. Graf, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The SMU specimen is the first coelacanth in Texas from the Cretaceous, said Graf, who identified the fossil, and named the new coelacanth species Reidus hilli. The Cretaceous geologic period extended from 146 million years ago to 66 million years ago. Coelacanths have been found on nearly every continent, but Reidus hilli is now the youngest coelacanth identified in the Lone Star State and the first coelacanth ever identified from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The coelacanth fish has eluded extinction for 400 million years, but was originally thought to have gone extinct about 70 million years ago. That changed, however, when the fish rose to fame in 1938 after live specimens were caught off the coast of Africa. Today coelacanths can be found swimming in the depths of the Indian Ocean.

A Fort Worth resident, Robert R. Reid has collected fossils for decades and found the fossil specimen while walking some land that had been prepared for construction of new homes. Reid noticed the fossil lying loose on the ground in a washed out gully created by run-off.

"When I found it, I could tell it was a bone but I didn't think it was anything special," said Reid, recalling the discovery. "I certainly didn't think it was a coelacanth."

Reidus hilli came from the fossil-rich Duck Creek Formation, which is a layer-cake band of limestone and shale about 40 feet thick. The fossil was found in marine sediments, Graf said. It is one of many marine fossils found in the North Texas area, which 100 million years ago was covered by the Western Interior Seaway that divided North America from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

Reidus hillis is named for the amateur collector who made the discovery and after Robert T. Hill, the “Father of Texas Geology”, and a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who led surveys of Texas during the 1800s.

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar