FACT CHECK: No, Surveyors Did Not Discover Dinosaur Remains In The Cherokee National Forest

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims surveyors found a dinosaur fossil in the Cherokee National Forest that appeared to have well-preserved organs and skin.

Verdict: False

There is no record of such a discovery being made in Tennessee. The images included in the posts are from an exhibition in Germany. A spokesperson for the fossil site where the bones were allegedly found denied the Facebook post’s claims.

Fact Check:

The Facebook post, shared over 1,100 times, claims surveyors in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee came across dinosaur remains that apparently still had skin, bones and organs. It claims East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Gray Natural History Museum allegedly revealed the discovery, stating that the remains can be labeled as a “dinosaur mummy” due to their condition. The post includes three images of the alleged remains.

“The researchers examining the find were astounded at its nearly unprecedented level of preservation,” reads part of the post. “The creature’s skin, teeth, and even some of its guts were intact – something they’d never seen before.” The post also cites “Dr. James Harvin” as stating, “Knowing this animal once roamed this area, we will be putting all effort possible into restoring the species. We hope to reintroduce it into its ancient stomping grounds.”

The claims appear to be bogus. None of the Gray Fossil Site and Museum‘s social media posts mention such a discovery being made in the Cherokee National Forest. No announcement of the alleged discovery appears on the museum’s website and there is no record of a “Dr. James Harvin” on the museum’s professional staff directory. (RELATED: Did North Carolina Scientists Create A T. Rex Embryo Using Chicken DNA?)

“No dinosaurs have been discovered at Gray (or the nearby Cherokee National Forest), nor have any dinosaur mummies (+skin and organs) been found,” said Dr. Chris Widga, the museum’s head curator, in an email to Check Your Fact. He added that the museum was “frustrated” to hear about the story. He also noted that while the site has a “rich” record of fossils, none of the discoveries have preserved skin or organs.

The photos used in the post are not from the Cherokee National Forest. A reverse image search reveals content developer Dennis Hansen of the University of Zurich’s Zoological Museum tweeted those images in October 2021, claiming they show the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex at the Dinosaurier Museum Altmühltal in Germany.

The German museum features dozens of model dinosaurs and excavation sites, according to its website.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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