Ashes to Ashes

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Ashes to Ashes (1)Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Parknear Plainview, Nebraska© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, near Plainview, Nebraska

Some 12 million years ago, this area of Nebraska’s grasslands became covered with up to two feet of ash from a volcano in southern Idaho. While local animals survived the ashfall itself, they soon perished from eating ash-covered grass. Their skeletons were found in what was once an ancient watering hole, now the site of a remarkable archeological dig.

Ashes to Ashes (2)Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Parknear Plainview, Nebraska© jan albers | all rights reserved© jan albers | all rights reserved

Scientists have uncovered more than 200 fossil skeletons, including barrel-bodied rhinos (in 1992, they discovered a rhino cow with a calf positioned nose to nose), a giraffe-like camel called Aepycamelus, sabre-toothed deer, five species of horses, a raccoon dog, a Secretary Bird, and a giant tortoise.

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