Agate Fossil Beds

Saturday was mostly spent packing and repairing the damaged wiring on my truck. Sunday morning we headed to Dirty Annie’s for breakfast and goodbyes (I only realized it was Fathers’ Day when they gave me my breakfast for free–Happy Fathers’ Day!), then headed back east.

We made a short stop at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska. This famous Early Miocene bonebed has produced a number of different land mammals, and casts (and some original specimens) of these are on exhibit in the visitors’ center. One of the most spectacular is the giant bone-crushing entelodont Dinohyus (above), which was roughly the size of a horse. Many of the Agate bonebed bones have puncture holes from Dinohyus teeth:

Another fascinating animal from Agate is Moropus, the largest of the chalicotheres. The chalicotheres are unusual perissodactyls (the group that includes horses and rhinoceroses) that tend to have front legs longer than the back legs and claws on all their toes:

Agate Fossil Beds is a bit off the beaten track, but it’s well worth a visit.

Tomorrow we continue our return trip east, although I’ll be making a detour to Tennessee for the first meeting of the Southeastern Association of Vertebrate Paleontology. The conference starts on Wednesday, and I’ll be posting from there each day.

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