Say “howdy” to the new resident of the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. Texas Nessie is a plesiosaur, a large aquatic reptile from the Cretaceous period that swam the waters that used to cover Dallas-Fort Worth and much of central North America.
Texas Nessie got her name from fossil collector Mike Donovan, who discovered the partial plesiosaur skeleton in central western Collin County in May 1991. His wife, Debera Donovan, donated his collection to the Heard Museum in September 2015, following his death. The 14-foot-long plesiosaur, which would have had four flippers and a crocodile-like jaw, is now on display along with information about it and a 22-foot-long mural of an underwater scene by Pamela Riddle.
The Heard Museum also houses the fossils of a mosasaur (another prehistoric sea reptile) and prehistoric tortoises nicknamed Tootsie and Peanut. And on May 29, the annual Native Texas Butterfly House and Garden reopens with its walk-through enclosure featuring free-flying butterflies and pollinators such as honey bees. It will be open through Oct. 3.
The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary is at 1 Nature Place, McKinney. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., plus May 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the second Saturday of each month, the grounds open at 7:30 a.m. $10 for adults, $7 for children 3-12 and seniors 60 and up, free for children 2 and under. heardmuseum.org.