Where to find fossils in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) –  Wednesday is National Fossil Day and there are a variety of fossils scattered throughout the mid-state.

Many of the fossils are marine in nature and fossilized corals, mollusks, shells, and other aquatic creatures are common. 500-million years ago, the land that is now Tennessee was south of the equator and covered by tropical seas.

Tennessee’s State Fossil is the bivalve Pterotrigonia (Scabrotrigonia) thoracica. This fossil is most commonly found in West Tennessee. Most of the fossils found in Middle Tennessee are from the Paleozoic Era which ran from 542 million years ago to 251 million years ago.

Inside the city of Nashville, there are various spots where fossils may be found. Here’s a list of places where you can hunt for fossils in the city.

  • Nolensville Pike at Windland Plaza- Across from the Nashville Zoo and behind Aldi there are slabs where fossils can be seen.
  • Nashville West Shopping Center- This site is next to Target at 6814 Charlotte Pike and has a lot of brachiopods. Both fossil slabs and individual fossils can be found.\
  • Rt. 70 South at Red Caboose Park (Leipers Formation) There are exposures on both sides of Rt. 70 S. Park either in the Red Caboose lot or in the lot of the Bellevue Presbyterian Church and walk up the sidewalk to the top of the hill.

A full list of fossil site locations is available here.

Nashville isn’t the only area in Middle Tennessee with fossils. Cumberland Caverns is home to a variety of fossils and other incredible ancient formations. Williamson County also has a variety of fossil sites along the Harpeth River. Look carefully and you may find a trilobite or gastropod in the sand or limestone. This area is also known for the famously well preserved mammoth bones that were found near the Harpeth.

Well-preserved corals, sponges, and brachiopods have been found just north of the city of Parsons. If you keep your eyes open, you can find fossils almost anywhere in Tennessee. Our own Linda Ong snapped this picture of a fossil at Cummins Falls State Park!

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