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The series kicked off with a program on vertebrate paleontology that gave children a chance to see what it's like to be a real-life paleontologist. Museum paleontologist Shane Tucker presented information on recent fossil discoveries from a highway construction project near Kimball. Visitors were able to watch Tucker as he removed sediment from a giant land tortoise shell that is 6 million to 8 million years old. It was discovered by Tucker in September and is an exciting find because giant land tortoises are unable to survive freezing temperatures, indicating that Nebraska was once frost-free.

The tortoise shell is 2.25 feet wide and 3.5 feet long, and the shell, sand, and plaster field jacket protecting it weigh nearly 2,500 pounds. Tucker gave a presentation at 2:30 p.m. in Elephant Hall, where he discussed his work in the field and showed images of other fossils recovered at the site, including three-toed horse, camel, rhinoceros, wolf-sized bone-crushing dog, horned rodent, and extinct four-tusked elephant remains. Hands-on dig opportunities were also provided for kids.
Tucker works for the museum's Highway Salvage Paleontology Program, a cooperative effort with the Nebraska Department of Roads. Nebraska introduced the country's first program to recover fossil remains threatened by highway construction.
University of Nebraska State Museum University of Nebraska-Lincoln