April 2017 Meeting

Monday, April 10, 2017
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L Goins Administration Building
Faculty/Staff Dining Room



Gray Fossil Site

Harry Moore, Geologist (retired)
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Knoxville, Tennessee


The Gray Fossil Site in northeastern Tennessee represents a unique terrestrial fossil assemblage dating to the Late Miocene Epoch (approximately 5 million years ago to about 7 million years ago). Discovered in 2000 during road construction by geologists with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), the site is volumetrically one of the largest single fossil localities in the world.

To date, the site 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, lesser pandas, and a variety of weasels, to name a few. 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. A 40,000-square-foot, $10-million research facility and visitor center has been constructed at the site. The facility was funded by a TDOT Community Enhancement Grant from the Federal Government.

The Gray Fossil Site has been proven to be rich in paleontological treasures and is providing valuable information on the geological past of the East Tennessee landscape.

Tapir skull found by Harry Moore in June of 2000 at the Gray Fossil Site.


Page updated May 26, 2018