Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version


Document Type



Bulletin of the University of Nebraska State Museum 1:26 (Jan. 1932), pp 235-242.




The skeleton of a titanotherium, stored since 1894, was installed in the west corridor of Morrill Hall, April 28, 1931. In the meantime the specimen has been visited by many citizens, women's clubs, and especially by delegations of school children, boy scouts, and like organizations, from various parts of the State and elsewhere. Repeated requests for a popular report on this particular specimen actuates the writing of this leaflet. Titanotheres were by far the largest creatures of Oligocene time in Nebraska. In point of size they are called gigantic, elephantine, and titanic. The titans of Greek mythology were giants, and therium means beast, so Titan6- therium seems a fitting appellation for these huge and impressive creatures. The skeleton under discussion measures eleven to twelve feet in length, and it stands seven and a quarter feet at the shoulders. In the flesh it must have been about eight feet at the withers. It was a titanothere of medium rather than large size, otherwise it could not have been installed in the case shown in the figure. During that remote time when the strata now exposed in our Bad Lands were being laid down as muds, titanotheres were very abundant. The territory embraced by Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, is counted the cradle of this strange and comparatively short-lived race. This region was their home, and the part they played in the drama of animal life was enacted here. They have been counted local, but may have been more cosmopolitan than is generally allowed. A few, at least, found their way across the land bridge into the eastern hemisphere, and some even reached Europe. Their gait was slow and heavy like the elephants, but those possessed of longer and less ponderous limbs were capable of corresponding activity and speed.