Ancient Introduction

Ancient animals flocking to the watering hole during the Miocene period.
Photo Courtesy of University of Nebraska State Museum
Twelve million years ago, what we now know as modern-day Nebraska was more like an African savanna than the farmlands of today. If you were able to travel back in time to the Miocene period (from five to 24 million years ago), you would witness amazingly flat terrain covered by seas of grass, interrupted only by shallow streams and sporadic clumps of forest. Much warmer than today, this humid area was home to an astounding number of diverse animals. Observing these animals, you would notice that many appear very similar to some of the animals you know of today. The relatives of today’s horses, camels and deer, prehistoric rhinos (known as Teleoceras), llama-like camels, three-horned deer, four-tusk elephants, saber-toothed cats and the first single-toed horses roamed the grassy plains searching for food. A visit during the dry season would enable you to see all of these animals flocking to a watering hole for nourishment and to cool off. Soon their world would change. What started out as a beautiful day would quickly turn into the beginning of their end.