Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LaBrea Tar Pits and Page Museum

Carole and I really enjoyed the LaBrea Tar Pits and the related museum. One really cool thing was that huge explosions of gas would erupt from the tar and into the layer of water above the pits. I tried to catch one of the big eruptions, but never could capture one. But I did get a couple of smaller outgassings.
The museum is packed with fossils that have been excavated from the pits. There are active excavations going on now and important finds are still being made. The paleontologists were at work tinkering away on a mammoth that they have nicknamed "Zed". His scapula and femur were being processed in the lab while we were there.
One of the most common fossils are of Dire wolves. This is a display consisting purely of dire wolf skulls.
And this is how they process the excavation. A block of tar/earth is hacked out of the ground and raised to the surface where the fossils are carefully worked free of the matrix. I was impressed at the size of the blocks of tar that are being hauled out of the deep excavation areas.

Fossil skeletons of a mature and an immature mastodon pulled out of the pits.

One of the smaller sloth species once found in the area.

A short-faced bear. These were huge. They were the largest bears ever known. They're extinct, now, except for the closely related Spectacled bear of South America which is much, much smaller and also in danger of extinction due to human encroachment on its range. Behind the bear skeleton is that of a full grown extinct horse for a size comparison.

Here I am with a life-size sculpture of a fully grown Short-face bear. Yes, they were enormous predators. They were likely very fleet runners with long legs.

An exterior shot of the Page Museum. Highly recommended and only a $7 admission fee for adults! What a deal!

Watch where you step! Not poop, but upwellings of asphalt/tar can be found in the lawn around the museum.

Wilshire Boulevard runs right beside the tar pits. (The singing in the background was a live performance by a guy singing for his supper. He was pretty good.)

More later...


MarkGelbart said...

I had to go back and find this blog entry. The La Brea tar pits museum is probably the only reason I'd want to visit California. Well, that, and a visit to one of their medical marijuana clinics for my condition.

HemlockMan said...

I quite like California. I was afraid of driving in LA, but after driving there I've discovered that it's actually easier than driving in Atlanta! Nowhere near as horrible as driving in Chicago (the worst driving in North America).

Next time we go we're going to hit a couple of more National Parks. I don't want to die without having seen some virgin redwood groves.