The Big Dig – Dates in September
The Big Dig is a one-of-a-kind, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, paleontology experience offered by Hands On! Discovery Center and the East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History!
Participants (age 12 to adult) will have the opportunity to work alongside paleontologists and follow the process from beginning to end, from searching for fossils in the field to curating them in the museum collection.
For more information or to register, visit: https://visithandson.org/the-big-dig/
Saturday, September 21st – Red Panda Day
Calling all Red Panda Rangers! Join us in recognition of International Red Panda Day to learn more Red Pandas of the past and today, as well as their significance to the Gray Fossil Site and try out some Red Panda activities and crafts. Programs announced periodically throughout each day.
Saturday, October 19th, 10am-3pm – National Fossil Day
The ETSU Museum of Natural History and Hands On! Discovery Center will celebrate National Fossil Day on Saturday, October 19, from 10 am – 3 p.m at the Gray Fossil Site.
National Fossil Day is an event that highlights the scientific and educational value of paleontology and the importance of preserving fossils for future generations. The day will include a variety of activities and demonstrations for all ages. Visitors will be able to take a tour of the fossil site, see amazing Appalachian fossils up close, and learn about how paleontologists use the latest technologies to research and preserve fossils. Scientists, students, and volunteers will be on hand to showcase the incredible work of paleontology!
Activities will be on-going from 10am to 3pm. All National Fossil Day activities are free to the public. All activities are also included with admission to the Hands On! Discovery Center: $10 for adults and children 4 and older.
The Gray Fossil Site is a one-of-a-kind paleontological resource preserving the remains of hundreds of extinct species that lived in East Tennessee 5 million years ago. Discovered in 2000 during road construction, the site is now home to the East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History and the Hands On! Discovery Center. It is a hub of education and scientific research.
For these and other events at Hands On! Discovery Center, please visit the Calendar of Events.
Gray Fossil Site exhibits are available during Hands On! Discovery Center hours:
Monday 9am-5pm (during March, June, July, & August only)
Hands On! Discovery Center closed the following holidays:
New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Please check our Facebook and Twitter pages for snow schedule closings
If you are coming with a group of 10 or more paying guests, you may qualify for a group discount. For more information please visit our Group Visits page.
Dwarf Tapir, Tapirus polkensis
One of many species of tapir found at the Gray Fossil Site
The Gray Fossil Site is a place where visitors can view and learn about an active Pliocene-era fossil dig site. Scientists believe the site was formed by an underground limestone cave that collapsed and created a sinkhole. This left a vast fossil deposit that dates back approximately 5 million years ago. Animals that have been unearthed so far include: saber tooth cat, alligator, tapir, rhinoceros, short-faced bear, and a mastodon as well as hundreds of plants and other animals.
Come by to learn more about this incredible discovery!
For More Info, visit the ETSU Center for Excellence in Paleontology.
A volunteer crew excavating the Rhino Pit at the Gray Fossil Site Museum and Visitor Center
Party Tapir, Tapirus celebratius
A special species of tapir only found at the Gray Fossil Site