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Only by cracking the surface of these inhospitable rocks could you begin to discover the curious world of wildlife that once roamed here.
The public digs happened organically, in a very North Dakota way.
Bruce — like me — was just your typical volunteer on a dig in western North Dakota.Unrecognizable creatures — with disproportionate limbs, spikes, shells, horns, unfathomable teeth — roamed freely, feeding on the tall grass and, oftentimes, one another.On this day last summer, I was perched precariously on a steep, uncomfortably jagged mountain ledge that poked sharply even through my kneepads, the flat head of my rock hammer poised over a sharp chisel. Around 34 million years,” Clint Boyd, a paleontologist who was with me, answered casually.He’d happened to chip into a mountain and found a stylemys (similar in appearance to an outsized Galápagos tortoise), which lived about the same time as my rhino.In the Eocene Epoch, which lasted roughly from 55 million to 34 million years ago, this area looked similar to the African habitats where rhinos currently live. Walking through the mountains required good balance and paying attention to each step.