Northeast Tennessee has a tremendous diversity in plants and animals. However, you don’t expect to come to this beautiful area in the Appalachian Mountains to see a shovel-tusked elephant, a semi aquatic pot-bellied rhino, a saber-tooth cat, red panda, alligator or even a camel without humps. You can see them all, or at least their fossilized remains, by visiting the Natural History Museum at the Gray Fossil Site just minutes from Historic Jonesborough, Tennessee.
While Jonesborough is Tennessee’s oldest town and has historic buildings going back to 1779, even Jonesborough is awed by the tremendous number of fossils that are from the Miocene era over 4 million years ago. Miocene fossils are almost unknown east of the Mississippi, and the Gray Fossil Site is an incredible excavation site that has become a window into a time in which we had little knowledge. Experts say there are not many places like this in the world, and the muck that preserved the fantastic number of extinct animal remains has actually created a record of an entire eco-system.
Visit the museum and see the exhibits of fossil remains and view an active research lab. Also join in the fun of a “Dig Pit” full of fossil finds. You can even take a guided tour of the Miocene exhibits and the fossil excavation site. There are also on-going special activities like the Palo-Pioneer Camp, Eco-School Survivor and Dig for a Day summer day camps. Four million years in the making, the Natural History Museum – Gray Fossil Site is now a exciting place to visit.
Another great place to visit is Historic Jonesborough. A journey into the past in Northeast Tennessee is not complete without stepping into Jonesborough’s well preserved and beautiful historic downtown. Stay in one of our hotels or bed and breakfasts and walk to great restaurants, shopping and entertainment that is only a few doors away. The Storytelling Capital of the World is a great place to sit back and relax and tell a few tales after an encounter with alligators, shovel-tusked elephants, short-faced bears, and saber-tooth cats.
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