Fossil Hills Trail
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
óNational Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior ó
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. Touch 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
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
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 •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 22, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 396 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 22, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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