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Agate Fossil Beds National Monument facts for kids

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Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
IUCN Category III (Natural Monument)
An aerial photo of University and Carnegie hills
University and Carnegie Hills fossil beds
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Nebraska
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Location in Nebraska
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located in the United States
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Location in the United States
Location Sioux County, Nebraska, United States
Nearest city Harrison, NE
Area 3,057.87 acres (12.3748 km2)
Established June 14, 1997
Visitors 15,555 (in 2016)
Governing body National Park Service
Website Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is a U.S. National Monument near Harrison, Nebraska. The main features of the monument are a valley of the Niobrara River and the fossils found on Carnegie Hill and University Hill.

The area largely consists of grass-covered plains. Plants on the site include prairie sandreed, blue grama, little bluestem and needle and thread grass, and the wildflowers lupin, spiderwort, western wallflower and sunflowers.

History

Entering Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Entrance to the monument
Agfo map
Map of Agate Fossil Beds

The site is best known for the large number of well-preserved Miocene fossils, many of which were found at dig sites on Carnegie and University Hills. Fossils from the Harrison Formation and Anderson Ranch Formation, which date to the Arikareean in the North American land mammal classification, about 20 to 16.3 million years ago, are among some of the best specimens of Miocene mammals. Species found at Agate include:

  • Miohippus, an ancestor of the modern horse
  • Menoceras, a pony-sized rhinoceros
  • Daphoenodon, a bear dog
  • Daeodon, the largest Entelodont (giant pig-like ungulate)
  • Stenomylus, a gazelle-like camelid
  • Palaeocastor, land beavers that dug large corkscrew-shaped burrows (Daemonelix)
  • Moropus, a chalicothere which are relatives of rhinos and horses

Originally the Agate Springs Ranch, a working cattle ranch, was owned by Capt. James Cook. The monument's museum collection also contains more than 500 artifacts from the Cook Collection of Plains Indians artifacts.

The national monument was authorized on June 5, 1965, but was not established until June 14, 1997. The Harold J. Cook Homestead (Bone Cabin Complex) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Agate Fossil Beds is maintained by the National Park Service.

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