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Unearth history at The World Fossil Finder Museum

Next time you visit the picturesque town of Hot Springs, South Dakota, you’ve got to check out the World Fossil Finder Museum. It’s a treasure trove of prehistoric relics, offering visitors a glimpse into the ancient creatures that once roamed the earth.

Debby Sue, the largest tylosaurus at the World Fossil Finder Museum in Hot Springs, SD

At the heart of the museum is paleontologist Frank Garcia. Frank's love for fossils began at the age of eight when he went to the library and saw a book with a dinosaur on the cover. That moment started Frank on a lifelong journey of discovery. 

Fossil hunting: a new chapter in life

Frank dedicated himself to uncovering the mysteries of the past. In 1983 he found fossils in the Leisey Shell Pit near Tampa, Florida, a place now referred to as the earliest, richest ice age fossil site in North America. The Smithsonian Institution called his find “a new chapter in life.”

To date, he’s found millions of fossils. In addition to the kyptoceras amatorum, an ancient giraffe with horns and a new species and genus to science, Frank has discovered 30 previously unknown species of prehistoric creatures. He’s had a previously undiscovered antelope named after him, the antilocapa garciae, and he discovered the world’s largest sloth claw from a sloth that would have weighed 16–20 thousand tons.


Fossils in South Dakota

In 2016, Frank and his wife Debora moved from Florida to Edgemont, SD. Once there, they started fossil hunting with their friend Gary Brown, and together they unearthed a well-preserved tylosaur skull and partial skeleton on private property near the Black Hills. The skull alone measured over five feet long and weighed over 300 pounds. He named the tylosaur Debby Sue, after his wife. The skull and skeleton is on display at the World Fossil Finder Museum in Hot Springs.

The World Fossil Finder Museum

Driven by his vision to share paleontology with the world, Frank and his wife Debora founded the museum in 2018 to share Frank’s private collection and discoveries — and to create a space where visitors could immerse themselves in the fascinating world of fossils and embark on a journey through time.

The museum has become a haven for fossil enthusiasts, providing ample opportunities for education and discovery — for adults and children alike. Frank’s expertise and dedication are evident in every aspect of the museum, from its meticulously curated exhibits to its engaging educational programs.

World Fossil Finder Museum exhibits

This museum features a wide variety of regional and international fossils, from a range of time periods. 

This includes:

  • One of the last American mastodon

  • Debby Sue, the largest tylosaurus ever found at nearly 50’ long

  • Titanotheres fossils, an animal that looked a bit like a rhino

  • The only skeleton of a nanosiren garciae named in Frank’s honor 

  • A diorama of the world’s richest, earliest ice age site

  • A variety of rotating fossils so there’s always something new

Fossil restoration and observation

In the back corner of the World Fossil Finder Museum, there’s a window where work can be observed as Frank’s team cleans and restores fossils.

Free fossils for children

Frank loves to share his knowledge and experience with everyone, and he enjoys sparking that passion in children. That’s one reason he gives a free fossil to every child who visits his museum.

More than a repository

The World Fossil Finder Museum is more than just a fossil repository. It’s a testament to Frank's commitment to preserving and sharing the wonders of the natural world. Through guided tours, interactive exhibits, community classes, and special events, he seeks to inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity in visitors of all ages.

Next time you ask yourself, “Is Hot Springs, SD worth visiting?” Step inside the World Fossil Finder Museum and embark on a journey through time like no other, guided by the vision and passion of Frank Garcia.

The World Fossil Finder Museum is located at 719 Jensen Hwy in Hot Springs. They can be reached (605) 745-5007. 

Where to stay in Hot Springs, SD

Highland Meadows Resort offers luxury cabins in Hot Springs as well as tipis, a lodge, and tent camping. Accommodations book quickly, so schedule your stay in advance.


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