Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds

Holt. Jul. 2021. 144p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250266576.
Gr 5 Up–This title explores the surprising discoveries made at Nebraska’s Ashfall Fossil Beds over a 50-year span, including information about new species, geological events, and animal behavior. At the same time, Stevens provides fascinating insights into the techniques scientists use to reconstruct the ancient past. The writing is lively, clear, and sometimes conversational. Fluid nonfiction storytelling presents the research in terms of mysteries to be solved, and readers gain an increasingly fuller picture of the work and its results with each new revelation. The author does a nice job of introducing material, then building upon it in subsequent chapters. The process of pinpointing the dates of the fossils, for example, involves three different methods over time, each one further solidifying theories. Explanations of key concepts such as evolution or fission tracks are clear and supported neatly by examples. The logistics of this huge, multiyear project emerge in different ways, such as the careful methods used to avoid damaging specimens and the need to bring in experts in various fields to uncover the full truth. Short, well-organized chapters help to break up the wealth of information into sections without overwhelming readers. The chronologically arranged narrative conveys the passage of several decades, but dates are usually not provided for specific events. Visual support is provided with black-and-white drawings of the ancient creatures, along with occasional diagrams and photographs of fossils.
VERDICT Engaging science content for older readers who love paleontology.

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