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Gray Fossil Site, Gray

Must see · Historic Site · Tourist Spot
The Gray Site is a Pliocene-epoch assemblage of fossils located near the unincorporated town of Gray, Tennessee in Washington County, and dates from 4.9 to 4.7 million years ago. The Gray Fossil Site was discovered by geologists in May 2000. They were investigating unusual clay deposits turned up during the course of a Tennessee Department of Transportation highway project to widen State Route 75 south of its intersection with Interstate 26.

State Route 75 was realigned to protect the find by order of Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, and a museum and research center at the dig operated by East Tennessee State University opened in August 2007.

The current dig at the Gray Fossil Site was determined to have been the location of a semi-circular sinkhole that once harbored a pond environment over a long period of time and is now yielding the remains of the ancient plants and animals that lived, watered, and died within the then watery sinkhole. Among the many vertebrate fossils found at the Gray Fossil Site are those of frogs, snakes, turtles and tapirs and recovered fossil records represent finds from approximately one percent of the total area of the Gray Fossil Site that has been explored --- and future fossil recovery from the entire site is projected to continue on for one hundred years.

The Gray Fossil Site is also the world's largest tapir fossil find and is yielding new and rare discoveries such as the most complete skeleton of Teleoceras (an ancient rhinoceros) yet found in eastern North America, a new species of red panda that marks only the second record of this animal in North America (the first red panda fossils found in North America come from the state of Washington), and a newly identified species of an ancient plant-eating badger.
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Gray Fossil Site reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
118 reviews
  • It's a great educational place for all families. Get to know what dinosaurs were walking in our area. Clean new building. A must for locals and visitors alike.  more »
  • This museum is exciting for all ages! The three-year-old and her parents and grandparents all enjoyed the experience equally! A true hands-on experience for all ages. The museum is built around the...  more »
  • Gray Fossil Site is an excellent small local museum displaying a world from the past. With rhinoceros, and one of the earliest Mastodon-like discoveries that might end up one of the largest terrestrial mammals of all time it is definitely worth the visit. Also they recently expanded and added a kids section for play.
  • Fun for all ages. We did the guided tour of the dig site and the Tesla coil. I would recommend them both. You get to learn about the prehistoric times of the area. And they even had a few replicas of fossilized animals from the town on the other side of the mountain from me.
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Duration: 2 hours
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