MG -Rhinos in Nebraska

Stevents, Alison Pearce. Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds. Godwin Books, 2021. 978-1-250-26657-6. 135 p. $19.99 Grades 4-7.

The wildlife living in the heart of the North American continent looked very different 12 million years ago! Large herds of rhinos and three-toed horses roamed the plains, and a variety of other predators, birds, and lizards made up just part of the diverse ecosystem. Then, the lives of those creatures were destroyed by a supervolcano eruption that sent clouds of deadly ash as far east as the Atlantic Ocean. Many animals, including large herds of ancient rhinos, died from breathing the ash and were buried in the Ashfall Fossil Beds of Nebraska. In 1953, scientists discovered hundreds of fossils in those ashbeds and began the decades-long process of discovering, studying, and preserving the rhino fossils, as well as fossils of many other plants and animals preserved in the ash. Since then, these ashfall beds have been used as a way to piece together a picture of prehistoric life during that time and gain a greater understanding of life on earth today.

THOUGHTS: This book would be a wonderful read for students interested in paleontology, dinosaurs, and the scientific process of discovery. It provides a fascinating timeline for the development of a discovery that eventually became a National Natural Landmark and State Park. It would be a great curriculum tie-in for classes studying volcanic eruptions and pyrotechnic effects on an ecosystem, and also for students studying fossils and paleontology. The black and white illustrations are sometimes difficult to interpret, but the captions, text, and back matter all provide good support for readers.

560.9782 Paleontology          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

Elem./MG – Accidental Archaeologists

Albee, Sarah. Accidental Archaeologists. Scholastic Press, 2020. 978-1-338-57579-8. 210p. $23.31. Grades 3-6.

Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Rosetta Stone, the cave paintings of Lascaux, the Dead Sea Scrolls. All incredible archaeological finds. And all found by ordinary people. Author Sarah Albee starts in 1709 with workmen digging a well and discovering some cut marble that leads to the excavation of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and works her way through the centuries to 2013 and two cavers in South Africa who navigate some tight quarters to discover bones belonging to a previously unknown species of early human. The last chapter speculates about what is still out there to be uncovered, including the final resting place of Genghis Khan. Each chapter details the find, its place in history, and also why it matters today. Readers will also appreciate the photographs that accompany the text.    

THOUGHTS: Students will enjoy reading the story behind some of the important archaeological finds they hear about in social studies class, as well as learning about previously unknown discoveries. A great addition to any elementary or middle school library. 

560 Paleontology          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD