50 States in 50 Days: Nebraska: Secrets of the Soil

Posted by: Neil Gipson, Consular Officer

Читати українською

Nebraska is famous for its fertile agricultural land, where – like large parts of Ukraine – we grow an abundance of corn, wheat and other crops. But Nebraska’s land also hides a secret side, buried beneath the soil for millions of years. For hidden under our farmlands are a treasure trove of fossils that tell a story of earth’s history.

Niobrara River, Nebraska

One of the richest fossil finds in Nebraska is the Ashfall Fossil Beds. There, you can lean in and watch in person while paleontologists unearth the skeletons of rhinoceroses, three-toed horses and other animals that died twelve million years ago when a giant volcano covered the land in ash.

Paleontologists at Ashfall Fossil Beds

Further west at the Agate Fossil Beds, you can see the “Miocene monsters” that replaced the dinosaurs after they had gone extinct. There is the terrible Dinohyus, a cross between a bison and a pig; the Menoceras, a rhinoceros with two horns; and the Stenomylus, a tiny camel less than 60cm tall!

Agate Fossil Beds

But the crown jewel of Nebraska’s fossil collection is the university museum found at Morrill Hall in the capital city of Lincoln. The museum is affectionately known as “Elephant Hall” because there you can see “Archie,” the largest elephant skeleton in the world. Archie is a mammoth who is more than 4 meters tall and nearly 30,000 years old, and he’s just one of hundreds of mammoth and mastodon skeletons that paleontologists have found across Nebraska. In fact, the museum collection includes more than 1.5 million fossil specimens!

A skeleton of Daeodon (Dinohyus)
A skeleton of Daeodon (Dinohyus)

Next time you visit the United States, take time to travel through Nebraska. You’ll see our beautiful countryside, meet our friendly people, and even get a glimpse of the secret history of the world that’s buried right beneath your feet.

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