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About 5 million years ago, there were some pretty interesting characters roaming around Northeast Tennessee. Sabre-toothed cats, shovel-tusked elephants, prehistoric camels…even peccaries.

Wait! What??!?

Yes, peccaries. Similar to pigs, but with a more complex stomach, as well as tusks used to scare away predators (by clicking them together). They’re also characterized by a strong aroma, which they use to mark their territory—and when threatened, they emit a musky spray at their attackers. That’s why the peccary is commonly called the “skunk pig.”

Unfortunately, peccaries don’t live around here anymore. Most of them migrated south, and into South America about 3 million years ago (when the Isthmus of Panama was formed). But you can still find them—as well as all sorts of other fossilized animals—at the Gray Fossil Site, just off I-26 north of Johnson City.

Learn more about the Gray Fossil Site

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