• Atlanta Northcutt

Murfreesboro Museum Unearths Middle Tennessee's Pre-historic Past

By: Atlanta Northcutt --- Reporter for the Southern Standard

Underneath the feet of Middle Tennessee residents lies a wealth of history and species dating back millions of years, telling rich stories of the county’s prehistoric past. 

Alan Brown, an MTSU geosciences professor and the founder of the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History, tells the many stories the rocks and fossils found in Warren County and Middle Tennessee can teach the present.

The Earth Experience at the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History, located at 816 Old Salem Road in Murfreesboro, is a direct result of Brown’s vision to unearth the past and put those items on display for the public.

The museum provides in-depth information on the approximate ages of Warren and surrounding counties deciphered by rock layers and describes the vast information of what once existed on the grounds and in the waters of the region.

The top exhibit at the museum is a 38-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex dating back 68 million years ago. This is the only full T-Rex skeleton in Tennessee.

Interesting facts about the region's history include why the Nashville Predators received their name. In 1971, a nine-inch, ivory fang was found in Nashville during a construction project, confirming saber-tooth tigers to once roamed the grounds of Tennessee. This fang was the first evidence of saber-tooth tigers to be discovered in Tennessee, and the hockey team was named after the discovery.

At several points in time, Middle Tennessee was actually under water with the most common skeletal remains found being those of clams, snails and a prehistoric type of octopus.

A type of panda bear which is currently only found in Asia but once inhabited Tennessee, and a giant fish with two sets of jaws occupied the waters. 

The interactive, hands-on museum is open to the public and allows visitors to touch minerals, fossils and real dinosaur bones. Exhibits include a wide range of specimens of prehistoric animals, gems and minerals found in the region, including geodes, petrified wood, meteorites, a rock exhibit and more. 

The museum is both fun and informative, focusing on life on Earth in the prehistoric past and reflect on the future for living organisms, most notably humans.

The price of admission is $7 for individuals 12 years and up, $3 for ages 4-11, and is free to children under 4. The Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, the Earth Experience at the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History is currently closed to keep volunteers, dinosaurs and visitors safe but is planning to reopen May 22.

For more information, visit www.earthexperience.org or call 615-900-8358. 

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