The Paleontological Museum in Montevarchi was re–opened at the end of 2014, after 7 years of renovation, an operation that gave the Museum a new image completed by a modern structure, open spaces and a more intuitive organization.
At the entrance, the guest will be surprised by the symbol of the Museum, that is the complete skull and big tusks of a Mammuthus meriodionalis, an extinct species of elephant that dates back to one million years ago.
On the first floor in addition to the entrance and the bookshop, it will be possible to find the first selection of findings and on the second floor the conclusion of the Museum’s collection.
The collections, before the restoration, did not have a didactic order as they followed the structure from the 19thcentury. Whereas the new exposition was thought for the modern visitor, who will be able to find near all showcases informative panels that will give the fossil a temporal and environmental placement.
The collection consists of over 2600 fossils coming almost exclusively from the plio–Pleistocene sediments (from 3 million to 200,000/100,000 years ago) of the upper Valdarno.
Among the fossils stand out the plant remains, among them, there are pieces of log, leaves, fruits and seeds. Exceedingly significant are the animal remains.
Among these, the most important are the remains of mastodons, tapirs, rhinoceros, primitive bovids and primitive black bears, which are typical of the first phase (Pliocene) of the upper Valdarno (Lignite mine in Santa Barbara, Castelnuovo di Sabbioni).
In the second phase there are very important remains of Elephas Meridionalis (elephant), saber–tooth “tiger”, giant hyenas, as well as many other species of herbivorous and carnivorous animals. Among these, we can find the Canis Etruscus, a canid with similar habits to the modern African wild dog, whose skull is the “TIPO”, the first fossil on which a scholar has defined a new species.
The sediments of the third phase, the most recent, gave proof of the existence of forest elephants, mammoths, steppe rhinoceros and other species which are still living today, for example horses, boars, red deers, roes and wolves.
Finally, from the end of this phase, come proofs of ancient prehistoric communities of hunters–harvesters who lived in Valdarno about 200,000 years ago. Copies of flints, one of which is attached to a wooden stick that was used, probably, for the hunt, can also be seen.
The collection includes casts of primitive human skulls.
Museum Director: Elena Facchino
Curator, Paleontological Section: Marco Rustioni
Curator, Archeological Section : Alessandra Ferrati