The La Brea Tar Pits

A few weeks ago on Saturday April 23rd, some friends and I went and explored the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the day. While we were there, we also explored the La Brea Tar Pits museum right next to it. I had never heard of any tar pits in LA until that day, and was eager to learn more about it.

The La Brea Tar pits are a group of tar pits that are located near the center of LA. Over many centuries, animals have died in the pits, leading to an accumulation of fossils that scientists have been able to dig up and study. Since the discovery of the fossils in the tar pits in 1901, excavation has taken place to find as many bones as possible to learn more about what the world was like thousands of years ago, especially during the ice age. In the 1940s and 1950s, the general public became aware of the excavation site and grew excitement at the preparation of the recovered animal bones. The animals discovered were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago, and are thought to have lived in the Los Angeles region for much of the last 100,000 years. In 1975, they built The La Brea Tar Pits Museum as part of the Natural History Museum right next to the tar pits so they can continue to discover new bones. The museum is super cool because it gives the history of the tar pits as well as the animals found in them. Alongside the mammoths, dire wolves, giant ground sloths, bears, and other species, there was one human found. It was a partial skeleton of a women dated approximately 10,000 years ago. They even find fossilized insects, plants, and various grains that hold as much value as the animals they find. These fossils help define a primitive climate that was thought to be a lot cooler and moisture based relative to today. Scientists are still working on a massive excavation site called Project 23, that could double the size of the collection.

2 Comments

  1. Christopher Fernandes

    I remember going here for a field trip in elementary school and thinking it was so cool. I kind of want to go again now that I’m older but it’s cool how tar literally keeps history “alive.”

  2. Berenice Contreras

    I’ve never heard of this location, but you have really persuaded me to check it out! I had no idea Los Angels was home to mammoths, dire wolves, giant ground sloths, or bears. Your post was very interesting and really enjoyed your insight!

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