World-renowned paleontologist opens museum in Hot Springs

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — It’s only fitting that a world-renowned paleontologist would open a museum with some of his best findings.

With decades under his belt as a fossil hunter, Frank Garcia says he has discovered over 30 prehistoric species in his lifetime. But his number one dream that he wasn’t able to realize until now; a museum.

“My museum is something I’ve dreamed about all my life to have ’cause I know I couldn’t have one because it takes a lot of money for a museum,” said Garcia, the owner of the World Fossil Finder Museum.

A problem he no longer has, thanks to his daughter who gifted him keys to this next chapter of his life, for his birthday.

“She just put a blindfold over my face,” Garcia said. “My daughter and my wife drove me up here and she took the blindfold off and my daughter handed me the keys she said ‘there’s your go daddy. That’s the museum you always wanted’.”

Among the many fossils that can be found in the museum, Frank’s prized possession, a 50-foot-long Tylosaurus called “Debby Sue”, which is named after his wife Debby. The discovery was made in Edgemont six years ago on Halloween, a day Debby says was full of exhilaration.

“I was so excited,” Debby Garcia said. “I screamed. We dug for hours. We dug from 10:30 (a.m.) in the morning to 3 (p.m.) in the afternoon.”

The museum also has remains of the world’s earliest ice age site, a discovery also excavated by Frank in 1983. But the couple is not done yet. He and his wife plan to continue to add to their collection.

“We’re gonna continue fossil hunting and discovering things and putting them in here,” Frank said. “It’s just gonna grow bigger.”

Now that the museum announced its grand opening on Saturday, June 20, it will now be open six days a week starting Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is special pricing for veterans, law enforcement and first responders.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News