Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A tour of the Miocene age

We spent Christmas in Tennessee with family and we had a blast! While we were there we were busy doing all sorts of activities, and we squeezed in an educational opportunity.
In Gray, Tenn. there is a fossil site. It was discovered by accident when a major highway was under construction and some dirt was moved, and someone found bones.

Here's the guy that started it all. Without this skull the highway construction likely would have moved forward.
A paleontologist was called from East Tennessee State University to come over and take a look. At first they thought the bones were from the ice age, but it turns out they found the bones of an alligator, and date to the Miocene age. That put a halt to all construction and scientists descended on the site to dig for more clues.
They found all sorts of bones and one of them was a camel!

There is a saber toothed tiger, and pot bellied rhino, and they recently found a red panda and badger. You can read more about the site and the museum here: http://www.grayfossilmuseum.com/
It isn't a very large museum, but I'm sure it will expand and grow. They are already planning an expansion for more classrooms.
One of our favorite parts of the tour was a dig for bones. We had a tray of various sea creature bones, tweezers and a magnifying glass and a control chart. Jewel found five shark teeth (tiny) and I found one. Sean found some things too, but I can't remember what they were. Something from a Manta Ray.
They are still digging on the site and find new things all the time. So neat.

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