Bridgestone Arena Smilodon Bones in Nashville, Tennessee

Display containing the fossil bones

During the construction of the First American National Bank building in downtown Nashville in 1971, a small cave containing a collection of bones was unearthed. These included the remains of a Woodland Period human burial, rodents, deer, amphibians, horses, and the partial skeleton of the sabertoothed “tiger,” from the genus Smilodon. Radiocarbon dating of this specimen places it at the end of the Pleistocene, 9410+/-155 B.P. and 10,035+/-650 B.P. This would make it one of the most recent occurrences of Smilodon in the fossil record.

The Southeastern Indian Antiquities Survey and Vanderbilt University excavated the remaining portion of the cave, recovering elements of the limbs, feet, ribs, and skull (including the emblematic saber-like canine). These remains as well as a selection of other fauna from the cave were displayed in the lobby of the First American National Bank Building until the company’s move in 2013. 

In 1997 these Smilodon remains served as the inspiration for the logo of the Nashville Predators hockey team and their mascot Gnash. In 2016, the remains were given a new permanent home at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, home of the NHL Nashville Predators.

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