On Sticky Black Tar, Fossils, and Los Angeles

Up until 11,000 years ago Los Angeles was home to many exotic species of animal. Sure we have cougars, bears, coyotes… but apparently this area I call home was once also home to prehistoric pachyderms (mammoths and mastodons), Powerful Predators (smilodons and dire wolves), and other assorted characters (ground sloths, short face bears, and ancient bison). Somehow representatives of all these species found their way to the La Brea tar pits and ended up as part of a catastrophic stew that now provides fantastic learning opportunities for young and old.

If you live in L.A. or are just here visiting you should really put this place on your “must see” list.  Be warned it smells a little funky, and if you are not careful you could end up with tar (asphalt) on your shoes.  Once you get there though you can actually explore the tar pits for free (after you pay for parking). You’ll see the lake with bubbling tar and gas, pit 91 (the live excavation site), the existing and forming pits, and if you time it right you can join in on one of the tours.  If you want to throw a little more coin down you can visit the Page Museum (@labreatarpits).  You might learn a few things while you see the cool exhibits and atrium.

Thing I learned:

  • Tar (asphalt) is NOT Hot!
  • Animals did not drown in the pits… they starved to death.
  • Tar pits are continually forming there today.
  • The Sabre-tooth tiger is no longer called a tiger because excavations have revealed that it actually had spots. (It is called a Sabre-tooth Cat).

If you get a chance seriously head over there just to whet your appetite here are some pictures from our adventure:

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One thought on “On Sticky Black Tar, Fossils, and Los Angeles

  1. Pingback: On Polar Bears, Pandas, and a Pachyderm Panorama « DiaryDad's Dadventures

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