Column: Rhinos, tapirs and pandas, oh, my!


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Time: 4.5 to 7 million years ago

Place: What is now eastern Tennessee

Setting: Herbivores, carnivores, reptiles, amphibians and assorted other fauna and flora around a large sinkhole, eating and being eaten, living and dying.

Time: May, 2000

Place: Just outside Gray, Tenn., north of Johnson City

Setting: A Tennessee Department of Transportation crew is working on road construction for a new interstate highway being built in the area. The bulldozer uncovers numerous fossil remains, and thanks to the Governor of Tennessee and the East Tennessee State University, the work is halted and the site is saved.

Seven years later, in August of 2007, the Natural History Museum Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site was opened to the public. More than 33,000 square feet of space, filled with displays, educational videos, dioramas, skeleton reproductions, and more were available for viewing. Four years later, an educational annex of 7,000 square feet was opened at the site.

 

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