The Paleontological Education Preserve.
The Family Museum
Imagine a gulf coast Florida far different
from the one you know. Vast grassland savannahs
stretch to the horizon, cut by teaming rivulets.
Strange and exotic animals like saber cats, mastodons,
glyptodonts, and giant sloths roam the
landscape. Some thirty miles away, great white
sharks over fifty feet long cruise through the
Gulf. It’s almost two million years ago.
In 1983, scientific history was changed
when the world’s greatest collection of Pleistocene
fossils was uncovered at the Leisey Shell Pit in
southern Hillsborough County.
Volunteers organized by Tampa Bay paleontologist Frank Garcia worked with scientists to expose scores of fantastic creatures from prehistoric times, some of them unknown to science dating from 1.6-1.0 million years ago!
Though the pit itself has long since
closed, many of the fossils discovered
there, as well as photographs and articles from its
excavation years, are on display at the Paleo Preserve
This small, nonprofit museum started by Frank Garcia to keep alive the history of the Leisey Shell Pit discovery continues to educate the public about Florida’s amazing fossils!
The Preserve is unique in the study of
paleontology because it opens a window on the
creatures of the early ice age. It tells us what the
rest of Florida was like over the millennia as well.
4140 24th Street SE
Ruskin, FL 33570
Directions from Tampa
Take I-75 south to exit #240B toward Ruskin. Go west on Fl-674 about 1 mile and turn left (south) onto 24th Street SE. Continue about 3 miles until the end of 24th. Camp Bayou is on the left.
Preserve Fossil Museum is located on the grounds of
Camp Bayou Nature Preserve.
Learn about all the creatures and their fossils that lived
and thrived right here in Ruskin -
millions of years ago on & around the Little Manatee River and more!
The Paleo Preserve is a small fossil
museum featuring fossils and photos and newspaper
articles from the famous Leisey Shell Pit discovery of
1983. We are located inside Camp Bayou Nature Preserve
in Ruskin, Florida and are open to the public on
Saturdays from 9 am until 2 pm or by appointment. The
Preserve is unique in the study of paleontology because
it opens a window on the creatures of the early ice age
-- 1.7 to 1.4 million years ago. It tells us what the
rest of Florida was like over the millennia as well...
See a Mammoth's
tooth, visit a Saber Cat, see a giant Beaver.
Visit the touch
table and feel some real fossils. Look into our black
light booth and see how some fossils fluoresce.
Dig for real fossils next to the museum. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it at our Pavilion.
The Paleo Preserve offers all of this for families and school trips.
Paleo Preserve is located in the Camp Bayou Nature Preserve.
Camp Bayou is neither a campground nor
a summer camp.
Camp Bayou was an RV park in another
life but is now a nature preserve open to the general
public Thursday to Saturday, 9am to 2pm, with trails,
nature center, fossil museum, native people camp, picnic
tables and more in its 160 acres.
There isn’t a phone for Paleo but
information can be received via email using firstname.lastname@example.org
Come explore these fascinating discoveries!
Saturday: 9 - 2