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Harrison in Sioux County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Fossil Hills Trail

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

 

óNational Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior ó

 
Fossil Hills Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 30, 1997
1. Fossil Hills Trail Marker
Inscription. The hills held ancient secrets for paleontologists. The two hills in the distance donít look like anything special. Even up close the untrained eye will see nothing astounding. But a sandstone layer near the bases of the hills has yielded one of the richest concentrations of fossilized mammal remains ever discovered.

Since 1904, paleontologists have been uncovering fossil bones here which greatly contribute to our knowledge of prehistoric mammals. Today many of these fossils are studied and displayed at leading museums and universities. Although thousands of bones have been removed, a great many more lie undisturbed within the fossil hills.

This trail leads to the main fossil quarry sites at University and Carnegie Hills. The 2-mile round-trip hike takes about an hour. At each hill a small section of the fossil layer is displayed just as it was found.
 
Location. 42° 25.158′ N, 103° 44.466′ W. Marker is in Harrison, Nebraska, in Sioux County. Marker is on River Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrison NE 69346, United States of America.
 
Regarding Fossil Hills Trail. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is nestled in the Niobrara River Valley in Nebraska 65 miles [110 km] east-southeast of its headwaters in the Hat

Fossil Hills Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 30, 1997
2. Fossil Hills Trail Marker
Creek Breaks of Wyoming. The park preserves a unique unglaciated area of the High Plains. Wetlands stretch out from the river and meet terraces that lead to the breaks and buttes. The buttes contain important information about the life of mammals in the Miocene Era, some 20 million years ago.

During the Miocene the land now known as Agate was a grass savanna comparable to todayís Serengeti Plains in Africa. Twenty million years ago animals such as the Dinohyus (giant pig-like animal), Stenomylus (small gazelle-camel), and Menoceras (short rhinoceros) roamed the plains. There were also carnivorous beardogs wandering around, and the land beaver Paleocastor dug spiral burrows that remain as todayís trace fossils (Daemonelix) into the ancient riverbanks. There are remnants of the ancient grasses and hoofprints of prehistoric animals in Miocene sediments preserved in the park, as well as layers of fossilized bones.

The park was created to preserve the rich fossil deposits and their geological contexts amidst todayís natural ecosystem. Numerous mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds inhabit or pass through the park, undisturbed and protected. Many species of native grasses and shrubs grow across the parkís landscape, as well as some undesirable non-native plants (e.g., Canada thistle) that the park does its best to control. Use the links to the left to learn
Fossil Hills Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 30, 1997
3. Fossil Hills Trail Marker
more about the geology, plants, animals, climate, and environment at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.

Text by Kimberly Howard, Biological Technician, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Information from Agate Fossil Beds Park Handbook, U. S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC, 1980.
 
Categories. Paleontology
 
Fossil Hills Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 30, 1997
4. Fossil Hills Trail Marker
Fossil Hills Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 30, 1997
5. Fossil Hills Trail Marker
National Park Cancellation Stamp. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument located in western Nebraska, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 1995. The monument has one of the worldís outstanding paleontological deposits of mammal fossils. The fossils are concentrated in beds of sedimentary rock which formed nearly 20 million years ago.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 318 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
 
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