For creatures that died out 66 million years ago, new dinosaurs are being discovered at a surprising rate. We may have lost the triceratops and the brontosaurus, but the addition of the Anzu wyliei last year, the Sauroniops pachytholus in 2012, and the Eodromaeus in 2011 helps make up for that.

Wylie Brys was four years old, in fact, when he unearthed a previously undiscovered 100-million-year-old dinosaur. He was digging around behind a shopping center in Mansfield with his dad, Tim Brys, who works at the Dallas Zoo. That’s a common pastime for the duo, NBC DFW reportsbut this trip ended with a surprise

“We commonly go collect fossils as something we can do together to be outside. Wiley enjoys coming with me on my trips,” Brys explained.

“We were finding some fish vertebrae in the hillside, and then Wiley walked a little ways ahead of me and came back with a piece of bone. And I paused and was like, ‘OK, where did you find this?'”

Tim Brys initially assumed that his son had found a fossil from a turtle, as the area the Bryses were excavating was underwater during the time period when most things would have been fossilized. But he told the Dallas Morning News that something about this one surprised him. “It was a pretty good size and I knew I had something interesting.”

The fossils were found in September. Since then, Wylie’s had a birthday, and Tim has enlisted the folks at his day job at the Dallas Zoo in helping him get through the maze of paperwork required to fully dig on the site. Which, on Friday, they were finally able to do.

It’s unclear what, exactly, Wylie Brys unearthed in Mansfield. The Morning News speculates that it might belong to the Nodosaur family, a “pony-size” type of dinosaur that childhood dinosaur enthusiasts might best remember for the Anklesaurus, one of the archetypal armored dinos. It’s also possible, according to NBC DFW, that the fossils represent a new species entirely. 

That’s something that experts at Southern Methodist University, who’ve taken over the excavation from the five-year-old and his father, will be in a position to determine. But in any case, the rich history of dinosaurs in Texas—which includes the Alamosaurus bones found near Big Bend, the famous tracks of Glen Rose, and the discovery of the massive Quetzalcoatlus pterodactyl in 1971gets a charming new anecdote. 

(Image via Flickr)