Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ashfall Fossil Bed State Park, Royal Nebraska

Ashfall Fossil Bed State Park
Hundreds of skeletons of prehistoric animals have been found in a volcanic ash bed buried beneath the rolling farmlands of northeastern Nebraska. Some of the best-preserved fossil rhinos, horses, camels, and birds known anywhere have been, and are being, excavated by museum crews working in the Ashfall Fossil Beds in northern Antelope County. Unlike most fossil deposits, which consist of scattered bones accumulated over extended periods of time, the ash bed contains mostly articulated remains with bones still joined together in the proper order. Quick burial in volcanic ash accounts for the three-dimensional preservation of the skeletons of species that became extinct millions of years before they could have been seen by humans. These remarkably lifelike skeletons, some of which contain unborn young and stomach contents, give paleontologists an opportunity to reconstruct the life appearance and habits of these ancient species with an accuracy never before attainable.

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