Government Canyon State Natural Area

Friends of Government Canyon | Halloween Fair at Government Canyon, Saturday, October 28, 2017 6:00pm 8:30pm

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Join the Friends of Government Canyon for a child oriented evening of fun to celebrate Halloween!



Who Is Invited

Open to ages 12 and under. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian for the duration of the event; no drop-offs please. Note that all areas for this event are handicap/stroller accessible. Each child will receive a carnival style map to guide them toHalloween themed stations which include games, crafts, and of course, treats!

Registration & Fees

Registration is required for EACH participant. Adults accompanying their children need NOT register. All Natural Area entry fees apply; please stop at the self-pay area to the right of the Fee Booth to self-pay. Correct change is required: $6 per person ages 13 and over; 12 and under are free. If you have a Texas State Park Pass, please enter the number on the appropriate line of the self-pay envelope. Credit cards are NOT accepted when self-paying.

When & Where to Meet

Meet and sign in next to the Visitor’s Center. The event begins at 6:00 PM, but you may come whenever you like and stay as little or as long as you wish. The fair will close at 8:30 PM. Plan ahead, as the Natural Area often experiences heavy visitation and wait time at the fee booth.

What to Wear & Bring

Dress appropriately for the weather; costumes are encouraged but not required.


No pets please. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian for the duration of the event. To reduce human impact on the Natural Area, please follow the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics.


This program is subject to cancellation. Should there be inclement weather, please check Natural Area conditions by calling GCSNA’s main office at 210-688-9055 after 7:30 am, or by going to the GCSNA twitter feed or the Friends of Government Canyon Facebook page.

For more information about this program, email or go here


Witte’s First Paleontologist Discovers New Crocodile Fossil

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Thomas Adams, the Witte Museum's curator of paleontology and geology, has discovered and named a new species of prehistoric crocodile.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Thomas Adams, the Witte Museum’s curator of paleontology and geology, has discovered and named a new species of prehistoric crocodile.


As a paleontologist and the Witte Museum‘s curator of paleontology and geology, Thomas Adams sees his job as being something of an interpreter.

“We want to tell the Texas narrative because there’s a story to be told,” Adams said. “It’s already written in rocks. We just need to translate it.”

For Adams, some of that translation is informed by his own discoveries. He has unearthed a new species of prehistoric crocodile, one he named Deltasuchus motherali and outlined in a recent scholarly article. The species was about 20 feet in length and a top predator in the food chain when it roamed Texas millions of years ago.

Adams, along with co-authors Chris Noto at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Stephanie Drumheller-Horton at the University of Tennessee, published the description of the new crocodile species earlier this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. This is the third new species Adams has discovered and named. His most recent find, the species’ partial skull, was unearthed in North Texas in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Funded by a grant from the National Geographic Society, the excavation site in Arlington has a surprisingly complete ancient ecosystem ranging from about 95 million to 100 million years old, when all of Texas was underwater except for a peninsula that included what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Adams called his work “a unique opportunity to document a site about a period we know little about, the Middle Cretaceous.”

The Cretaceous period occurred between 145.5 million and 65.5 million years ago. During the mid-Cretaceous, the planet’s land mass split into several smaller continents, creating large-scale geographic isolation and expansive new coastlines.

Texas is a rich source of paleontological research, with 22 different counties having dinsoaur track sites, Adams said.

“The highest concentration of dinosaur tracks in the world is right here in Texas,” he said. “The tracks represent a period of time in Texas when seas were rising and animals were taking advantage of open shorelines to walk across the state.”

Deltasuchus motherali is the second fossil Adams has named since joining the Witte. He came to the museum in January 2013 to consult on the design of the first permanent dinosaur gallery in the 90-year history of the museum, the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery. At the time, he was teaching geology at San Antonio College and was the local expert brought in to help with developing the Witte’s traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs UnEarthed. Once he turned his attention to the dinosaur hall, Adams thought about how paleontology would complement the Witte’s educational mission.

Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology Thomas Adams.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology Thomas Adams.

In the process, he became the Witte’s first paleontologist, one with more than 20 years experience as scientist working in the field, researching fossils and authoring scientific papers. Adams holds a doctorate degree in geology from Southern Methodist University.

The Witte’s first foray into paleontology was its work in 2014 in partnership with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to document the dinosaur tracks at Government Canyon State Natural Area, where more than 300 footprints were uncovered.

Adams’ mission is to create a new paleontology program at the Witte from the ground up.

“We have an opportunity to build a program that serves not only the museum but the entire community, working with students via different programs across the city,” Adams said. “It allows us to play on an international field and do something unique in San Antonio, since research on paleontology tends to be limited here.”

Since joining the Witte, Adams has been approached by students interested in pursuing paleontology, with some volunteering as interns to do research.

“They can learn how to curate and manage collections and how to write and present a research paper,” Adams said. “We provide opportunities for students that they don’t ordinarily get.”

Adams is always on the hunt for the next big discovery, encouraging those who may have found potential fossils on their property to contact the Witte and ask for the paleontologist to help with identification.

Large drawers pull out unveiling dinosaur fossils in an education room.
SCOTT BALL / RIVARD REPORT Large drawers in an education room at the Witte pull out and unveil dinosaur fossils.

“For us to understand the future, we need to understand the past, not just historical but the geological,” Adams said. “We know that climate change has happened in the past, so we can look at the fossil record and see how they adapted to that before.”

As for his most recent discovery, fossil crocodiles such as Deltasuchus “help us understand how diversity changes in Texas, specifically as well as globally over time, because the evolutionary history of animals helps us understand what is happening to life as a whole.”

A native of Iowa who has lived in San Antonio since 2005, Adams balances his work at the Witte with his original research in paleontology and geology, and he makes time for programs that expand the Witte’s reach. In June, Adams accompanied students from Trinity University to Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in China as their on-site instructor for field geology.

“By my working in unison with programs such as the one at Trinity, it enables the Witte to go beyond the four walls of the museum to go into the community with expertise that can enrich the lives of those interested in the geological history of Texas,” Adams said. “That’s how I was inspired, by a wonderful mentor when I was a student who taught me about paleontology.

“We aim for the Witte to inspire a new generation of paleontologists and geologists.”

Original article here

S.A.’s Government Canyon dinosaur tracks ready again for viewing | Express News

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Updated 5:23 pm, Friday, August 4, 2017

If you love dinosaurs, the best time to see their prehistoric tracks in San Antonio is now that several have just been cleaned up.

Thursday morning, a team of volunteers and park staff at Government Canyon State Natural Area cleaned up some of the 300 dinosaur tracks at the park that had been covered by pools of water and fallen vegetation. Tracks can be seen by visitors Friday through Monday about 2½ miles down the area’s Joe Johnston Route.

Government Canyon in northwest San Antonio holds various campsites and trails in its more than 12,000 acres. The upkeep of the dinosaur tracks is part of the the park’s effort, in partnership with the Witte Museum, to preserve the primitive landscape. A team of six, including Witte’s curator of paleontology and geology Thomas Adams, helped in the effort.

Teams have cleaned the area periodically since the tracks were first uncovered in 2014. Adams said they continue to do so because of the area’s popularity to visitors.

“I ask myself why people love dinosaurs,” Adams said. “They’re real, they’re bigger than life.”
To see the photo’s go here


Playing Outside Makes Kids Happier, Healthier And Smarter (But 7 Minutes A Day Isn’t Enough) | TPR

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By Kim Johnson & Jan Ross Piedad • Jun 13, 2017

Listen to the show on KSTX: San Antonio, All Things Considered

Despite evidence that children who play and learn outside are healthier, happier and smarter, the average child today spends just four to seven minutes playing outside every day.

Research suggests that a lack of exposure to the great outdoors can lead to a number of maladies, from obesity and vitamin deficiency to ADHD, anxiety and depression.

Insufficient time spent in the natural world is also linked to weakened ecological literacy and environmental stewardship.

While not a medical diagnosis, the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” has been used to describe the consequences of human alienation from nature.

What factors contribute to the epidemic of inactivity afflicting children today, and what can be done to reverse society’s nature deficiency?

How can parents and caregivers provide a safe and fulfilling outdoor experience for children?


Listen to the show on KSTX: San Antonio, All Things Considered

Government Canyon home to several endangered spiders | KSAT News

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Posted by KSAT News

By Erica Hernandez – Producer
Posted: 4:22 AM, June 09, 2017
Updated: 8:56 AM, June 09, 2017

Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla), Photograph by Dr. Jean Krejca

To watch video on KSAT website, click here

Government Canyon State Natural Area is over 12,000 acres, located in northwestern Bexar County.Texas Parks and Wildlife is in charge of taking care of this area and the species that live there. Right now, Government Canyon is home to seven different endangered species. Most of those species consist of spiders and beetles that live underground, including the Government Canyon Bat Cave Spider.

“It’s very rare, but we do have other species as well that exist in other caves around,” superintendent Chris Holm said…Read the article here

For more information on the endangered species living on the Edwards Aquifer, click here