Local man reviving the passion for collecting fossils; Restaurant owner shares interest in fossil collection with others
Posted on 1/31/2017 7:17:00 AM.

By Alex Briseno, KWED Intern

(Seguin) -- William Thompson, owner of Dixie Grille, is getting attention for something outside of the restaurant business.Thompson’s book, Fossil Echinoids of Texas, was published last year. But this isn't a new found passion of his.
“My dad was Air Force so I moved every three or four years,” said Thompson. “I came to Texas in about '70. I was collecting arrowheads because I collected arrowheads in Georgia, and so there were a few arrowheads here.”
Thompson was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but being a military kid, his family life took him to Thailand, Georgia, and Florida just to name a few.
Thompson says those travels helped him get into fossils when he was 19 and he found himself being especially interested in sea urchins.
“In starting to collect fossils, I pick up a lot of stuff," said Thompson. "I pick up clams, oysters, snails, but the thing that I kept on being drawn to was sea urchins."
And that's when Thompson decided to specialize in them.
There was a husband and wife team in the Houston gem and mineral club who wrote several books. However, Thompson says the books were a bit dated.
“One of the books they wrote was Cretaceous Texas Echinoids I think it was called," said Thompson. "It was a good book, and we all used it. I had my copy. It's still torn up from using it so much, but it was hand drawings.”
Thompson belongs to the fossil club in Austin, and he says that's where the inspiration to write the book came from.
“Everybody always said we need one with better pictures," said Thompson. "So I thought I'd do a little book with colored pictures.”
Thompson then got permission to photograph the specimen collection at the University of Texas Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab.
“After photographing the University of Texas collection, then I went to the Smithsonian and photographed their collection," said Thompson. "Then, I actually tracked down some collections.”
After Thompson began photographing for the book, he decided he wanted to do more.
"Then it grew from just being a book of pictures to pictures and descriptions," said Thompson. "Then I thought okay, let's be complete."
Thompson says that he is proud of completing it and that it is the best document out there for Texas fossil sea urchins.
"Over the years, the most species of sea urchins identified at one time was 16 by two different individuals," said Thompson. "In my book I have 46 new species. I strive for giving the collectors what they wanted -- good photographs and holotypes that they've never seen before."
Thompson says his hope was to give everybody, who was interested in collecting fossils, a tool that would allow them to be serious.
Thompson’s book, “Fossil Echinoids of Texas: A Monograph of Fossil Sea Urchins” is available for purchase on Amazon, eBay, and on his website www.echonoids.com.

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