Museo de Arqueología y Paleontología

Museum in Tarija

The university-run Archaeology & Paleontology Museum provides a glimpse of the prehistoric creatures and lives of the early peoples that once inhabited the Tarija area. Downstairs you’ll see well-preserved animal remains and upstairs the focus is on history, geology and anthropology, with displays of old household implements, weapons, ceramics and various prehistoric hunting tools, including a formidable cudgel known as a rompecabezas (head-breaker).

A few of the fossils on display: megatherium, a giant ground sloth that was the size of an elephant; glyptodon, a prehistoric armadillo-like creature about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle; lestodon, another ground sloth that resembled a giant-clawed aardvark; scelidotherium, a small ground sloth; smilodon, the saber-toothed tiger; and Cuvierionius tarijensi, a fossil elephant that was discovered close to the city by the great French zoologist Georges Cuvier.

Upstairs, look for the desiccated mummified corpse of a man from the Pampagrande area, which shrunk via natural processes to measure just 35cm long.