May 2006 Meeting

Monday, May 8, 2006
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
Lamar Alexander Building
Room 223


The Gray Fossil Site (Miocene)
A Rare and Unique Terrestrial Fossil Assemblage in Washington County, Tennessee

Larry Bristol
Paleontology Coordinator for the
Gray Fossil Site
Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geology
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, Tennessee


The Gray Fossil Site in northeastern Tennessee represents a rare and unique terrestrial fossil assemblage dating to the Miocene Epoch. Discovered in 2000 by road crews of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the site is volumetrically one of the largest single fossil localities in the world and to date has yielded fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, alligators, birds, shrews, rodents, squirrels, rabbits, elephants, rhinoceroses, tapirs, peccaries, camels, sloths, saber-tooth cats, short-faced bears, canids, lesser pandas, and a variety of weasels. In addition to these vertebrate organisms, invertebrates, plants, and pollen/spores are also abundant at the site. Preliminary evidence supports a large sinkhole surrounded by an oak/hickory type forest, a departure from the typical Miocene grassland environment. Currently, a 40,000 square foot, 10 million dollar research facility and tourist center is being constructed at the site.


Page updated May 26, 2018