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The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals of Tennessee


Only scattered dinosaur bones--or fossils of any kind, for that matter--have ever been discovered in Tennessee. Here's a list of this state's most notable prehistoric animals. (See an interactive map of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in the United States.)

1. Hadrosaurs

Oxford Museum of Natural History
In the 1940's, a Tennessee paleontologist discovered the scattered bones of a hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) in an unidentified region of the state, the only dinosaur remains ever to be found. A 1992 analysis of these fossils revealed a remarkable similarity to Edmontosaurus, a common duck-billed dinosaur of late Cretaceous North America. More about hadrosaurs

2. Mammoths and Mastodons

woolly mammoth
Heinrich Harder
During the late Pleistocene epoch, Tennessee, like many other states in the U.S., was a stomping ground for herds of Woolly Mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) and American Mastodons (Mammut americanum). Paleontologists have discovered numerous Mammoth and Mastodon remains in Tennessee, often in association with early Native American artifacts.

3. Marine Organisms

Wikimedia Commons
Like many dinosaur-poor states near the east coast, Tennessee is rich in the fossils of much less impressive animals--the crinoids, brachiopods, trilobites, corals and other small marine animals that populated the shallow seas and lakes of North America over 300 million years ago, during the Devonian, Silurian and Carboniferous periods.
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