Have you ever wanted to see a saber-toothed deer? Come to Nebraska’s Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, home to fossils that have been preserved thanks to very special circumstances.
About 12 million years ago, northeastern Nebraska’s grasslands were covered by a foot or two of ash from an Idaho volcano. The region’s animals started to consume the ash and slowly began to die. Many animals were collected in a watering hole, where the billowing ash covered their bodies and preserved their death positions, creating a spooky ecological snapshot in time.
The fossil beds were discovered in recent decades, and fossil digs are conducted regularly (rhino and tortoise are the most common finds). Visit the park’s Hubbard Rhino Barn to see the fossils preserved as they died and to watch excavations in front of you. A lucky few applicants are accepted each year to join a fossil dig event.