Welcome to 

Paleo Preserve


Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum is currently open to visitors from 9 am until 12 noon on Saturdays. The museum is following CDC guidelines regarding wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Please come visit!

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   .5 million - 1.1 million years BP!

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 Fossil Museum.
 
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 -- 1.7 to 1.4 million years ago. It tells us what the rest of Florida was like over the millennia as well.


Office

Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum is open to the public Saturdays 9 am until 2 pm.
The museum is located inside Camp Bayou Nature Preserve. 

The address is:
 4140 24th Street SE
 Ruskin, FL  33570 

Directions from Tampa: 
Take I-75 South to the Ruskin exit #240. 

Go west on SR 674 approximately ½ mile to 24th Street S.E. and follow it four miles south to Camp Bayou Nature Preserve. 

The museum is located on the grounds at Camp Bayou.
 

The Museum

Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum exists to educate young and old about Florida’s amazing fossil record.  In 1983, scientific history was changed when the world’s greatest deposit of Pleistocene fossils was uncovered at the Leisey Shell Pit in southern Hillsborough County.  Frank Garcia brought the importance of the discovery to the attention of paleontologists at Florida Museum of Natural History.  Through Frank’s efforts volunteers were recruited to excavate the site.  When excavation ceased, Frank started Paleontological Education Preserve to share this amazing discovery.  Volunteers at Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum continue to share the story through pictures, articles, and most important…actual fossils!!
 

Come Explore With Us!


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!

Come On In

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...

The Museum

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.

Field Trips

 An interactive experience is offered for schools and groups throughout the year by Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.  The experience includes on onsite educational presentation, a tour of the museums, and a hands-on dig in the fossil pit.  Participants discover, collect, and keep the fossils they find.  To inquire about pricing please contact us, the form is below.

Also offered is the opportunity for an educator to come to your location and present a lecture, and to bring with them a “mobile museum” of fossils to enhance the experience.
To inquire about pricing please contact us, the form is below.

Camp Bayou

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 info@paleopreserve.com

Photo Gallery


Come explore these fascinating discoveries!



“Our goal is to teach Floridians and visitors about the prehistoric creatures and people that were here long before us,” ... Fred Hendershot.




Get In Touch With Us


The form is below.

Interactive field trips for schools and groups are offered throughout the year at the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.  The field trip includes an educational presentation with a hands-on dig experience, museum tours, and the opportunity to have lunch in the pavilion.  Participants discover, collect, and keep the fossils they find.

Please contact us for pricing.

Address


4140 24th Street SE
Ruskin, FL 33570
The museum is located inside Camp Bayou Nature Preserve.

Working Hours


Saturday: 9 - 2

https://www.campbayou.org/

Contact Info


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