Flood Carries River Monsters Above the Surface

(Photo by Andrés Ruzo)

By Andrés Ruzo, NG Young Explorers Grantee

The powerful rains that hit Texas and the surrounding region last month led to more than two dozen human deaths, and were a reminder of how little we are able to resist nature’s wild side when unleashed.

They were also a reminder to those of us who live in the area that our buildings and byways are a very recent arrival to this ancient landscape.

The Trinity River, running through the heart of Dallas, rose dramatically as a result of the rains and flooded many areas in the city. (Photo by Andrés Ruzo)

The Trinity River, running through the heart of Dallas, rose dramatically as a result of the rains and flooded many areas in the city. Tennis courts I passed near the river were under about feet of water, and as a geoscientist and National Geographic explorer, it was fascinating to see geologic processes at work, depositing a layer of sediments (now just “cracked mud”) on the courts.

Silt in the river left high-water marks along the fences of a nearby tennis court. (Photo by Andrés Ruzo)

Geologically speaking, sediment deposition was what I expected to find here—however, the floodwaters brought in more than just mud …

A number of juvenile longnose gar were stuck in the fences near the Trinity, likely trying to return to the main river after feeding in the flooded areas. It was a bittersweet sight, as their untimely death allowed me to observe their impressive, armor-like scales and mouths full of sharp teeth. Certain Native Americans groups used gar scales as arrowheads, and even as protective breastplates.

(Photo by Andrés Ruzo)
Living fossils like the gar are a reminder that our buildings and byways are a very recent arrival to this ancient landscape. (Photo by —> Read More

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