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Knoxville — Researchers from the University of Tennessee and other institutions may have found a new species of turtle from fossils unearthed in northeast Tennessee.

The fossils were discovered during road construction work in Gray, Tennessee.

The director emeritus of UT’s McClung Museum said they are carefully removing the materials from the site.

“It contains a good number of fossils from animals that are now extinct,” said Dr. Paul Parmalee. “Turtles are fairly common in the deposits, but we don’t know what they are yet.”

The fossils may be more than a million years old.

“None of these bones are complete, because they’ve been broken up over time, from heat and pressure and tectonic forces,” Parmalee said. “But they all seem to be the same thing, whatever that may be.”

State officials will have to decide whether to build roadway on top of the site, or protect it by diverting the road or building a bridge over it.