In the shadow of a huge dinosaur skeleton at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Henderson, who teaches at Klein Collins High School, is showing-off a nearly perfect fossil from a Dimetrodon grandis, known as a Texas Finback. He found it on Tuesday near the town of Seymour, close to the Texas-Oklahoma border.
"The first dinosaurs didn't show up until about 250 million years ago. This creature roamed north central Texas around 300 million years ago. This is the largest, most complete pelvis ever found of a Dimetrodon anywhere. That's why it's so significant."
Henderson was part of a concentrated field course for educators run by the museum's Paleontology Department in an area known as the "red beds", with unforgiving terrain and not much shade.
"We had inspected it several times, but always before, people that inspected it had been cooking for a while in the central Texas heat and really weren't paying a lot of attention. This time we were cooled off. We had just had a lunch. A thunderstorm had just come through and lowered the temperature about 20 degrees and we actually felt like humans again so we were actually able to find quite a few wonderful bones there."
"What's the name of this animal? Dimetrodon. Say it again. Dimetrodon."
The museum's curator of bones, Dr. Robert Bakker was along on the dig and knew immediately Henderson's find was significant.
"We walked into this badlands where the rock was exposed and he walked ten steps and found a bone. Walked up a little hill, more bones, more bones, more bones. We hit a layer where many of these finbacks had died and been buried and within five minutes he came across that perfect pelvis."
"What did they eat?"
The fossil will be on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science within a couple of days. You can see of picture of the bone on our website, KUHF.org.