Meet the Ashfall Rhinos
The University of Nebraska State Museum on June 17, 2017 dedicated new sculptures at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. Set in the natural landscape of Ashfall, the Battling Rhinos bronze sculpture represents two ancient rhinos that are locked in an eternal struggle as a second bronze sculpture, Ancient Tortoise watches from a safe distance. The bronze replicas by renowned artist and Nebraska native Garry Staab represent two species found in the ancient watering hole at Ashfall. “There is evidence that the fossil barrel-bodied rhinos at Ashfall engaged in the same behavior as modern rhinos. The bulls spar with each other, and occasionally hurt one another with their horn,” said Ashfall Superintendent Rick Otto. “During Ashfall times, giant tortoises were common animals and would have been a mainstay on the landscape, inhabiting the same area as the barrel-bodied rhinos, three-toed horses and llama-like camels." The sculpture dedication event honored donors and featured remarks by Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “You’ve got this incredibly sweet mix of great scientists, great park managers, great philanthropists, great artists,” Johnson said. “And we’re really a long ways away from any big population center, but this is a national treasure here in the northeast corner of Nebraska.” The bronzes were a gift from the Theodore F. and Claire M. Hubbard Family Foundation. The Hubbard family is a supporter of many programs at the State Museum and previously funded a 17,500 square foot climate controlled barn at Ashfall where visitors can watch scientists unearth fossils. “These statues bring to life the fossils that were buried in ash for millions of years” said museum director Susan Weller. “They help us to imagine how these animals lived – which scientists determined from studying how the fossils are positioned in the Hubbard Rhino Barn.” Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is a joint project of the University of Nebraska State Museum and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
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