Local Denton man makes a larger-than-life find, SMU paleontology studies his discovery

Local Denton Man Makes a Larger-than-Life Find from SMU-TV on Vimeo.

Dan Bridleman is no stranger to Lake Lewisville. In fact, he calls it his “home away from home.” You’ll have better luck reaching him in those waters than his cell phone because he doesn’t even own one.

It was in these calm Lake Lewisville waters that the man who’s hard to get a hold of got a hold of something larger-than-life.

“It was in water about this deep and it was crystal clear and I looked down and I saw that bone and I thought it was a cow leg bone,” Bridleman said.

“And I looked down and I grabbed it, picked it up and said, ‘Damn, that’s heavy.'”

Bridleman has been fishing for four years in Lake Lewisville. But over the past few years Dan has discovered a new haul that doesn’t include fish, but driftwood.

Bridleman has been transforming floating pieces of wood into works of art for years. He has created lamps, birds and other structures from wood pieces by adding his own materials like colorful pebbles for decoration and detail.

“[My wife] don’t care for it,” Bridleman said, “but she likes the money though.”

One day, his hobby paid off in a different way. It was during one of these driftwood-seeking days that Bridleman paid special attention to an object peaking out of the clear waters.

He picked up the “cow bone” and realized its weight was unsually heavy. That cow leg bone was pretty dense for a cow bone because it really was a dinosaur bone.

One day at Bridleman’s work a man walked in to get work done on his car. He noticed a round item on a desk. He recognized that item as a dinosaur bone. He asked Dan if he could take it back to the SMU paleontology lab for study.

The customer turned out to be Roger Farish, a member of the Dallas Paleontology Society.

“Not many people have that curiosity. So we do try to reward that when someone not only wants to get to the bottom of what something is but to benefit science as well,” Farish said.

The SMU research team discovered the bone belonged to a hadrosaur dinosaur, also known as a duck-billed dinosaur. They are considered the historic equivalent of cattle. In that sense, Dan wasn’t too far off after all. The bone is approximately ninety-three million years old.

SMU Director of the Suhler Museum of Paleontology Dale Winkler said this find is a very unusual one.

“This represents parts of information that we didn’t have before or what the animal looked like, how it was built and what it did in life,” Winkler said.

A display of the dinosaur remains depends on how deep the museum’s pockets are. Winkler estimates it could cost millions to reconstruct a dinosaur.

Although there won’t be any displays soon, Farish said you can count on Dan for more discoveries.

“Dan is on fire now. He’s going out every chance he gets looking for more bones,” Farish said. 

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