The Phoenix Nest

The Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska

The Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska

A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

 

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Abstract

I spent a week at Yankton, South Dakota. My target was the Ashfall Fossil Bed, a major Lagerstätte from the Miocene Epoch. These fossils, mainly relatives of the modern rhinoceros, were laid down about 12 million years ago, when the inhabitants of the area were buried in yards deep of ash from the Yellowstone supervolcano. Paleontologists and their interns are still uncovering new fossils, as they painstakingly brush away layers of ash.

Page Prerequisites
Table of Contents
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2017_0919
Title The Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska
Subtitle A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Yankton, South Dakota, Yankton ⁄ Missouri River KOA, Ashfall Fossil Beds
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL http://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Published: 2018/2/19
Last Revised 2018-02-25

Yankton, South Dakota

Arrived 2017/9/19
Day of Tour 59
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2017/9/26
Map miles from last stop 231
Mileage on arrival 22,750
Actual miles from last stop 180
Accumulated miles for trip 5,845

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I spent a week at Yankton, South Dakota. My target was the Ashfall Fossil Beds, a few miles southwest, across the Missouri River, in Nebraska. Ashfall is ranked as a major Lagerstätte from the Miocene Epoch. These fossils, mostly relatives of the modern rhinoceros, were laid down about 12 million years ago, when the inhabitants of the area were buried in yards deep of ash from the Yellowstone supervolcano. Paleontologists and their interns are still uncovering new fossils, as they painstakingly brush away layers of ash.

Page Contents

Yankton, South Dakota

This part of SD was greener and more rolling than the northern regions, with occasional ridge lines showing on the horizon. Corn and beans have replaced the miles of wheat, and the miles that are there are divided into perfect square sections by arrow straight section roads. I'm back to civilization!

Around Yankton

The photos of the northern Nebraska hills were taken on my return from the Ashfall Fossil Beds from a visitors center on a ridge overlooking Yankton from the Nebraska side of the Missouri River.

Photo Gallery for Yankton, South Dakota

Yankton, South Dakota
Yankton, South Dakota
Looking towards Yankton across the Missouri River.
Yankton, South Dakota
The hills of northern Nebraska, south of Yankton, South Dakota.
Yankton, South Dakota
Flowers of northern Nebraska, south of Yankton, South Dakota.
Yankton, South Dakota
Flowers of northern Nebraska, south of Yankton, South Dakota.
Yankton, South Dakota
Looking west along the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota.
Yankton, South Dakota
Looking east along the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota.

Yankton ⁄ Missouri River KOA

This was my first stay at a KOA (Kampgrounds of America), and despite the tepid remarks of many viewers, I'm finding it quite satisfactory. Certainly the staff was friendly and helpful.

The campsite was open and spacious, although the site was not quite long enough to park my truck in front of the trailer after unhitching.

The site and lanes were unpaved gravel, which were not a problem with the sunny weather. There was a concrete pad with table and fire pit.

My setup ended with great relief: my kitchen slide slid. I have a kitchen! I didn't in Aberdeen; don't know why. That's part of the reason my last report was so terse. All the way down here I was brooding on having to find a skilled RV repairman in a small town, and what it would cost, and how long it would take. But this time I pushed the button and out it went. Slowly. Ahhhhhh!

I also have better internet here, using the Parks public WiFi. I know, I know, there be dragons here. But I have my VPN turned on, and that should deter any local hackers. My secure hotspot doesn't seem to work well with T-Mobile's hinterland service.

Photo Gallery for Yankton ⁄ Missouri River KOA

Yankton ⁄ Missouri River KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
Yankton KOA
CAMPGROUNDVALUE
Address 807 Bill Baggs Road
Yankton, SD 57078
Home Page https://koa.com/campgrounds/yankton/
Phone Reserve: 800-562-7218
Info: 605-260-1010
Associations
Rate (net US$) $30
Pros
  • Very friendly and helpful staff.
  • Spacious feel to the campground.
Cons
  • Site too short to park my pickup in front the the trailer.
Reviews (as of 2018/2/17)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 8.4 (Good) 10
Good Sam 9 10
KOA 4.5 5
Tripadvisor 4.5 5
Phoenix 9 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 7 10
  Ease of Access 8 10
  WiFiNotes 6 10

Points of Interest

I sailed the prairie sea, up the giant swells and down the deep troughs, standing waves in the land as it flows into the Missouri River.

The harvest of corn and hay was beginning, but I saw many more harvesters in a single of the many farm equipment stores in every town, than I saw working in the fields. This is heartland. This is the country where my heart feels at home, although the culture of the people is no longer mine.

I came at last to the Ashfall Fossil Beds, where 12 million years ago, the ash from the supervolcano in what is now Idaho (the same hot spot that now underlies the Yellowstone caldera) settled ten feet deep on a watering hole, creating a Miocene Pompeii.

Ashfall Fossil Beds

The Ashfall Fossil Beds were a major target of my trip. It's a major Lagerstätte from the Miocene Epoch, about 12 million years ago. These fossils, mainly relatives of the modern rhinoceros, were laid down when the inhabitants of the area were buried yards deep in ash from the Yellowstone supervolcano. Paleontologists and their interns are still uncovering new fossils, as they painstakingly brush away layers of ash.

The photos in the gallery below show the facilities, exhibit hall, and area around the Beds. I took many other photos of particular fossils that can be viewed independently of that context, and that I am compiling as part of a large catalog. For these, go to Fossils from the Ashfall Fossil Beds.

Photo Gallery for the Public Site of
The Ashfall Fossil Beds

Ashfall Fossil Beds
Ashfall Fossil Beds
Ashfall Fossil Beds
Ashfall Fossil Beds
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Site of Original Discovery
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Site of Original Discovery
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Layers of Sediment
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Outcrops
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Outcrops
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Outcrops
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing "Zebra" Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing "Zebra" Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Fossil-bearing "Zebra" Quarry
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Rhino Barn
(Click photo for larger image.)
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Statue of Teleoceras
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Statue of Teleoceras
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Statue of Teleoceras
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Statue of Teleoceras
Ashfall Fossil Beds Wildflowers
Statue of Tortoise

For further information about the beds, see the following.

Fossils from the Ashfall Fossil Beds

The photos in the gallery below are of particular fossils. They are organized to be part of a much larger catalog of fossils that will include specimens I saw in many different museums and fossil sites. Ultimately this section will be replaced by that catalog.

As a general rule, I have arranged the photos of fossils according to the following principles:

  1. First, I group photos within their geological age, oldest to youngest. At the beginning of a group of photos from a given age, I include an panel to introduce that age.
  2. Within each age, I group photos by biological taxonomy, with the simpler, oldest genera usually coming first. I make occasional exceptions when a museum arranges different genera together for comparative purposes. I plan to introduce each genus with a panel that describes its place in the tree of life. That plan requires a lot of writing that has not yet been done.
  3. Within each genus, I try to follow common sense:
    1. Photos of the same exhibit will always be kept together.
    2. Often I include a photo of the museum's explanatory placard as a way to introduce that exhibit.
    3. Photos of exhibits of the same genus by the same museum will normally be kept together.
  4. I may occasionally group copies of photos together for comparative purposes.
  5. I occasionally follow a photo with a duplicate that is enhanced to reveal detail that I think the original hides.
  6. Most photos of fossils are linked to large, high-resolution versions that you can view by clicking on the photo.

Photo Gallery for Fossils Seen at
The Ashfall Fossil Beds

Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Began MYA Eon Era Period
541 Phanerozoic
252   Mesozoic
201   Jurassic
145 Cretaceous
66 Cenozoic
  Paleogene
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 1.
(Click for larger photo.)
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 1.
(Click for larger photo.)
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 1.
(Click for larger photo.)
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Cretaceous Plesiosaur at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 2.
(Click for larger photo.)
Began MYA Eon Era Period Epoch
541 Phanerozoic
66   Cenozoic
  Paleogene
34   Oligocene
23     Neogene
      Miocene
5.3 Pliocene
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 1.
(Click for larger photo.)
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds..
Petrified Tree from Miocene Epoch.
Exhibit 2.
(Click for larger photo.)
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 1.
(Click for larger photo.)
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Giant Tortoise from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Exhibit 2.
(Click for larger photo.)
Crowned Crane from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Crowned Crane from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Crowned Crane from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Crowned Crane from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Stegomastodon from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Camel from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Saber-toothed deer from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Saber-toothed deer from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Saber-toothed deer from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Saber-toothed deer from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Horse skull gnawed by dogs, from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Three-toed horse (miohippus), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), Statue at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), Statue at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), Statue at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), Statue at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Barrel-bodied Rhinoceros (Teleoceras), from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
og track from  Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Dog track from Miocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)
Began MYA Eon Era Period Epoch
541 Phanerozoic
66   Cenozoic
2.6     Quaternary
  Pleistocene
0.1       Holocene
Wooly mammoth tooth from Holocene Epoch Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
Wooly mammoth tooth from Holocene Epoch at Ashfall Fossil Beds
(Click for larger photo.)

Story Time.

In the last episode of our story,

Story.

story

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

Afterword

BACKGROUND OF STORY

TELL SUBAFTER HERE.

 

For Further Reading

As always this story is based on what I have learned from an eclectic variety of sources, which I list below. In the main these sources are, I believe, scientifically reputable, though their conclusions might have been superseded by later research. On occasion I might draw on sources that I believe to be less than reputable for contrast and dramatic effect, but I will note my judgment in its listing. (You may not share that judgment.) The morals and conclusions I have drawn in the story are my own speculations; I cannot blame them on anyone else:

  • Web Searches:
  • Web Pages:
  • Off the Web:

Because my stories overlap in their topics, so these lists of sources will overlap. It is my plan to build a comprehensive Bibliography for the Phoenix Nest, but since the Nest is constantly growing, that has turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. My web skills need to grow.

Next Stop

From Yankton I turned east towards Iowa. My next stop was Webb's RV Park near Des Moines.

Comments and Conversation

What follows are comments and conversations I have had with people about this page of The Phoenix Nest.

Dialog 1

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