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Brown sheds light on prehistoric past
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A 38-foot-long fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex is displayed at the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History.
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Underneath Warren County 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, appeared before the Rotary Club of McMinnville on Thursday to discuss the many stories the rocks and fossils found in Warren County and Middle Tennessee can teach the present.

Saber-tooth tigers were discovered to roam the grounds of Tennessee when a nine-inch, ivory fang was found in Nashville during a construction project in 1971. This fang was the first evidence of saber-tooth tigers to be discovered in Tennessee. The Nashville Predators were 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.

Brown presented photos of a type of panda bear which is currently only found in Asia but once roamed the land in Tennessee and a giant fish with two sets of jaws that occupied the waters. 

During Brown’s presentation, he included in-depth information on the approximate ages of Warren County and Middle Tennessee deciphered by rock layers and described the vast information of what once existed on the grounds and in the waters of the region.

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 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.

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

Professor Brown appears on FOCUS at 91.3 FM on Tuesday at 5 p.m., Wednesday at 5 a.m., Thursday at 1 p.m. and Friday at 1 a.m. to discuss life on Earth in the prehistoric past and reflect on the future for living organisms, most notably humans, in the future.