During the Great Depression scores of unemployed people were put to work digging up fossils in Texas. The fruits of their arduous labours were stored at the University of Texas at Austin, where, for the past 80 years, they remained untouched.
Now, an analysis of the collection has identified an extraordinary wealth of unknown or little-known species that roamed 11 million years ago across what has now been named the Texas Serengeti.
More than 50 species have been identified from almost 4000 collected fossils, including elephant-like animals, rhinos, alligators, antelopes, camels, and 12 types of horses.
The finds are described in a study led by the university’s Steven May in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.