Real Estate Showcase: Ashfall Fossil Beds
Location: Northeastern Nebraska
As Nebraska paleontologist Mike Voorhies unearthed fossils, a skull he discovered in a ravine in Royal led to the establishment of Ashfall Fossil Beds—one of the premier mammal fossil sites in the world and one of Nebraska's natural historic treasures.
Ashfall is situated on 360 acres of rugged rangeland in the scenic Verdigre Creek valley. Nature trails were developed to help interpret the geology as well as the flora and fauna of the area. Picnicking is permitted on the park, and campers can use nearby Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area near Royal. Collecting fossils or other specimens on the park grounds is strictly prohibited.
"When you look down into the fossil bed, you can tell exactly what the animal looked like because of its three-dimensional qualities."
Ashfall Fossil Beds is a joint project of the University of Nebraska State Museum and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Preservation of Ashfall now and for future generations is made possible by the generosity of the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, which purchased the land in 1986, and the Burlington Northern Foundation, which supplied a grant for construction of facilities. Paleontologists and interpretive staff at the site are provided by the University of Nebraska State Museum.
Prehistoric rhinoceroses and horses died of volcanic ash inhalation 12 million years ago, and their fossils are now studied as an example of natural selection. The animals perished as a result of a volcanic eruption in Idaho that spread a blanket of ash over the area; the animals ate the ash-covered grasses, which damaged their lungs and caused their death. Preserved perfectly as they died, the site has revealed complete skeletons—as well as the seeds of native grasses and trees.
January 3, 2020 | Roadtrippers
"Nebraska’s Pompeii: Exploring a prehistoric graveyard at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park"
November 21, 2017 | Lincoln Journal Star
"'Paleo Sleuths' shows prehistorical records under Nebraskans’ feet”
January 2021 | Smithsonian Magazine
"Evolution World Tour: Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska"
University of Nebraska State Museum | Ashfall Fossil Beds