The only thing I knew to expect from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is that fossils would be there. Being in northwestern Nebraska on a weekday there weren’t many people there. And so far Nebraska was about what I expected. When my dad and I entered the visitor center we saw this life-size display of fossils of the animals that have been found here.
We got the Jr. Ranger book and watched the video about the history. They had an amazing collection of Indian artifacts known as the James H. Cook Collection. Most were artifacts from the Oglala Lakota Chief Red Cloud that were given to Cook as signs of their friendship. Red Cloud presented Cook with many gifts including clothing, tools, and ceremonial objects. Below is a picture of two disassembled peace pipes they have, as well as a buffalo hide with paintings on it depicting events in their history.
A shallow waterhole forms in the dry savanna which attracts Moropus & Menoceras. A drought comes and the herds die after all food within walking distance is gone. Their bodies are scavenged by Dinohyus and beardogs. New animals come to the waterhole, mixing the bones up and leaving their tracks. At the end of the drought a new layer of sand covers the bones and tracks.
In 1889 James Cook found what he thought were pet bones. It was a 22 million year old fossil. In 1892, he invited Dr. Thomas Barbour to see them. He had many ideas on what the spiral deamonilix could be, but was convinced that no animal could make such perfect shapes, so it had to be a plant formation. Shortly after this, Carnegie Univeristy started reconstructing the Daemonilix and they originally thought they were dens, that had been filled in over time.
Some animals from the Miocene era:
- Menocarus = present-day rhino
- Moropus = present-day horse
- Dinohyus = pig-like omnivore
- Stenomylus = present-day camel
- Paleocaster = present-day beaver
- Dephenodon = dog-like
- Oreodont = sheep-like
They were actively setting up temporary campgrounds for the solar eclipse. They had 100% totality and were expecting three to four thousand people to show up to watch it there.
Once we left the visitor center we went on a hike on the Daemonelix Trail to see some fossilized daemonelix that are still in the rocks. It was very warm, bright and sunny so the pictures aren’t the best, but this is what I got!
And of course, my picture of my Jr. Ranger badge and souvenirs!
NEXT TIME at Agate Fossil Beds: I don’t think I missed anything at Agate Fossil Beds.