Research News

Fossils at the Fort is March 25

Fossil hunting at Fort Negley in 2016. (photo courtesy of Larisa DeSantis)
Fossil hunting at Fort Negley in 2016. (photo courtesy of Larisa DeSantis)

Fossils at the Fort is happening on Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Negley Visitors Center and Park. The event is free and will take place rain or shine.

Vanderbilt’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is partnering with Fort Negley Park, Metro Parks and Recreation and Vulcan Materials Company to provide opportunities to journey into Middle Tennessee’s astonishing ancient past.

At the March 25 event, participants will be able to:

  • Bring fossils for fossil identification;
  • Plot and identify major events on a giant timeline;
  • Discover and take home 400-million-year-old fossils from a collection site donated by Vulcan Materials Company; and
  • Enjoy student-led presentations and tours about Tennessee’s ancient past, including learning about dinosaurs, saber-toothed cats, frozen mammoths and more.

“Regardless of age, kids and adults always enjoy finding fossils – the thrill of discovery can’t be beat,” said Larisa DeSantis, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, who teaches Vanderbilt’s Life Through Time course. “This event is a fun opportunity for our students to share their passion with the public, engaging members of the community in a love for finding fossils and understanding our ancient past,”

DeSantis is helping continue the event, which was initiated five years ago by Professor Emeritus Molly Miller.

“We often think about history in terms of the recent past. The Civil War seems like such a long time ago. But in reality, history is an immense series of interconnections spanning eons,” said Krista Castillo, museum coordinator at Fort Negley Visitors Center and Park. “Fort Negley Park is a perfect example. Without the ancient tropical sea, we wouldn’t have Nashville’s extraordinary limestone landscape. Without that limestone, we would not have the largest inland masonry fortification built during the Civil War. Fossils at the Fort provides one of those rare opportunities to catch a glimpse of what Middle Tennessee was like 400 million years ago.”

Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch.

For additional information, contact Krista Castillo at 615-862-8470.