Hillsboro – Texas has always been a popular place for earth’s inhabitants, even long before the Lone Star State became a state. Evidence of the biggest beings to roam the planet have been discovered in places like the Waco Mammoth Site and Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glenn Rose.
Conveniently located between both those sites is the Texas Through Time Museum in Hillsboro and it’s where you’ll find Andre Lujan digging through the dirt. “Texas is really unique because just about every geologic time period is represented in our fossil record. We had a flying reptile with a 40-foot wingspan, a flying reptile the size of a jet. We had some of the largest living land animals that ever walked the planet Earth. Amazing stuff.”
Andre is a self-taught paleontologist that put together this prehistoric place dedicated to telling the tales of Texas’ ancient past. From spiny creatures with sharp teeth to ancient alligators, Texas Through Time runs through the gamut of gargantuan and not so gregarious things that roamed these parts. “We’re really leaving no stone unturned. It doesn’t matter if the fossil’s the biggest or the best, if it’s found here in the state, then it’s part of our story. And they’re all important,” said Andre.
Getting to experience unique places like this is what we pride ourselves on showing here on The Texas Bucket List, but Andre has a different list he goes by. “Finding things that are on your bucket list. I found a saber cat skull when I was in the White River Badlands in South Dakota, and it was just so surreal,” he said.
Research and restoration takes place around the clock at Texas Through Time, and it’s work that you can actually witness. The prep lab is where the work gets done and where a lot of the dust gets made that you see on cases out front. Some fossils are displayed still intact with the rock in which they were found.
One of their trophy pieces at the museum is a cretaceous shark found in Uvalde. According to Andre, to find a skeleton of a shark is extremely rare, and to find one covered in skin is even more rare. This particular fossil represents the finest example of this type of fossil found in the universe, and it was found right here in the great state of Texas.
Andre’s expertise and passion for our prehistoric past has even made him an expert appraiser on Pawn Stars. “My knowledge of paleontology, which a lot of it’s been gained through experience and reading as much as I can, has kind of made me an expert in a lot of areas. So I’ve been called on as an expert for the History Channel and the other places to come out and share my knowledge and help them solve problems,” Andre mentioned.
But Andre’s biggest goal is to inspire the next generation of dinosaur diggers. He said, “when I have young people coming in here, kids that want to be a paleontologist, and I can put a fossil in their hand, and they can go in the lab, it becomes real for them. It’s no longer a dream, and that’s really cool.”
If you’re looking to learn more about our prehistoric past and want to see some cool fossils along the way, be sure to check out the Texas Through Time Museum. And just maybe, you’ll find as much interest in it as Andre, who will do this until he is also a fossil.