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Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Earth, Air, & Water

Michael Voorhies


Professor Emeritus


Ph.D., 1966, Wyoming



Contact Information


W428 Nebraska Hall
402-472-2654
mvoorhies1@unl.edu

I am interested in the vertebrate fossil record of the last 15 million years in the Great Plains. The abundance of well-preserved fossils of Miocene through Pleistocene age in Nebraska is no secret in the bone-hunting community, but many promising areas remain virtually unexplored. My students and I have been collecting and analyzing vertebrates from nonmarine clastic deposits representing a broad spectrum of depositional settings, and have attempted to work out taphonomic and paleoecologic relations as well as the biostratigraphic framework of the strata. We are especially intrigued by mass occurrences of large mammals, such as the rhinoceros and horse herds preserved in volcanic ash at the Ashfall site in Antelope County, northeast Nebraska. By analyzing remains of more than 500 Pliocene zebras from the Broadwater quarries in western Nebraska, we recently discovered that the animals died simultaneously, probably from drought. The large collection of Cenozoic mammals (more than one million specimens) and modern research facilities of the University of Nebraska State Museum offer excellent opportunities for graduate study in vertebrate paleontology.


Selected Publications



  • Passey, B.H., Cerling, T.E., Perkins, M.E., Voorhies, M.R., Harris, J.M., & Tucker, S.T., 2002, Environmental change in the Great Plains: an isotopic record from fossil horses, Journal of Geology, 110, 123-140.

  • Voorhies, M.R. and Timperley, C.L., 1997, A new Pronotolagus (Lagomorpha: Leporidae) and other leporids from the Valentine Railway quarries (Barstovian, Nebraska), and the archaeolagine-leporine transition, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 17, 725-737.

  • Azzaroli, A. and Voorhies, M.R., 1993, The genus Equus in North America: the Blancan species, Paleontographica Italica, 80, 175-198.

  • Voorhies, M.R., 1991, Vertebrate biostratigraphy of the Ogallala Group in Nebraska, University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology Symposium Series.

  • Voorhies, M.R., 1985, A Miocene rhinoceros herd buried in volcanic ash, National Geographic Society Research Reports, 19, 671-688.

  • Voorhies, M.R., and Thomasson, J.R., 1979, Fossil grass anthoecia within Miocene rhinoceros skeletons: diet in an extinct species, Science, 206, 331-333.

  • Voorhies, M.R., 1969, Taphonomy and population dynamics of an early Pliocene vertebrate fauna, Knox County, Nebraska, University of Wyoming, Contributions to Geology, Special Paper no. 1, 69 pp..