Rhinos in Nebraska -- a scientific look at the changes in the USA


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

How much do you know about the history of our Earth? Did you know part of the United States use to be a savanna and have animals like rhinoceros and elephants roaming around? I know I certainly didn't. Today I get to share a middle grades book (ages 8-12) that takes us through the science of discovering the history of our land. The book is Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds by Alison Pearce Stevens.  

From the Publisher:

Twelve million years ago, rhinos, elephants, and camels roamed North America. They would gather at nearby watering holes―eating, drinking, and trying not to become someone else’s lunch. But one day, in what we now know as Nebraska, everything changed. The explosion of a supervolcano a thousand miles away sent a blanket of ash that buried these animals for millennia.

Until 1953, when a seventeen-year-old farm worker made an unbelievable discovery.

Rhinos in Nebraska tells the story of the Ashfall Fossil Beds, where more than two hundred perfectly preserved fossils have been found. Step into the past with author Alison Pearce Stevens and uncover the mysteries of Ashfall.

From Me:

Ok, when I first read the title of the book, I thought that sounds interesting. I wasn't really thinking about it being a nonfiction book. So after the amazement of the fact that we had rhinos, elephants, camels and more roaming around in Nebraska, I realized what an amazing book this is. This book shares with the reader the history of the discovery as well as the science behind it all. 

The book explains how the fossils were first found and unravels the mystery the scientists went through to discover what happened. The wording is very easy to follow and scientific terms are explained in the text as well as in the glossary at the back of the book. There are photographs as well as illustrations throughout the book to further help the understanding. It amazes me the process paleontologists go through to preserve the bones. I love learning a bit about the field and the work. There are so many interesting details in this book. Plus many scientists worked together to discover what happened to the animals--a supervolcano and where it erupted. 

There are also illustrations of what the animals would have looked like and how scientists know the looks as well as the behaviors of these animals. The science is explained in every aspect of the book. Then once the science is explained there is the explanation of how and why they created the state park: Ashfall Fossil Beds State Park. The truth is the entire book is just fascinating. The discovery of it being a watering hole required looking at diatoms, tiny plant-like algae, and their spores. Talk about interesting. This is science we don't usually spend time learning about but it is explained in such an interesting way and all having to do with the discovery of the fossil beds. 

This book is full of interesting history and science. There are a few prints like the one above of an imagined scene at the watering hole. The science goes into how fossils are created to animal facts like how there were some three-toed horses at the time of the volcano and why they may have had three-toes verses the one-toed ones that exist now (and there were some one-toed then too). So if you would like to add some STEM to your reading or have a reader interested in animals, paleontology, or Earth's history, be sure to check out this book! You will love it!!