‘Almost’ Elephants Lived On The ‘Texas Serengeti’

An illustration showing the ancient animals — such as elephant-like gomphotheres, rhinos, horses and antelopes with slingshot-shaped horns — that lived near what is now Beeville, Texas, about 12 million years ago. Credit: Jay Matternes/The Smithsonian Institution

Depression-Era Workers Found Strange Fossilized Beasts in ‘Texas Serengeti’

by Laura Geggel, Associate Editor Live Science

About 12 million years ago, antelopes with slingshot-like horns and beasts that weren’t quite elephants but that had long trunks and tusks tramped across the “Texas Serengeti” searching for food and caring for their babies.

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration paid folks to collect and preserve fossils in Texas. Here, Glen Evans (left), who managed much of this WPA project, is shown carrying a fossil in a field jacket with a worker.
Credit: The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

Little was known about this ancient menagerie until, during the Great Depression, the government created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and tasked some of the organization’s employees with finding and preserving thousands of fossils from the Miocene, an epoch that lasted from about 23 million to 5 million years ago.

Now, after more than 80 years in storage at The University of Texas at Austin, these fossils are finally being studied. The fossils have even revealed a previously unknown genus of gomphothere, an extinct elephant relative with a shovel-like lower jaw, and the oldest fossils on record of both the American alligator and an extinct dog relative. [Photos: These Animals Used to Be Giant]

The skull of a shovel-jawed gomphothere (bottom), collected by Great Depression-era fossil hunters, is still wrapped in its field jacket, along with other skulls from ancient elephant relatives.
Credit: The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

If this article interests you, read more at LiveScience.com



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  1. That was about 400 to 500 ppm of CO2 ago.
    It is plant food, Carol.
    You and Gordon were made by CO2 , water and sunlight.
    Read “Evidence Based Climate Science” by Dr. Easterbrook.
    The IPCC is a Eugenisists psychological operation.
    Borrow Dr. Barrett copy that I bought for him.

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