A Sticky End

By | September 9, 2016

Thirty-eight thousand years ago, a pack of saber-toothed cats were pursuing a weak mammoth. The mammoth stumbled into what it thought was a shallow pool, and found itself trapped in sticky tar. The cats were soon trapped, too. Hunted and hunters died. They had fallen into a massive tar pit.

LA BREA

the-la-brea-tar-pits-museum

The La Brea Tar Pits Museum – Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Thousands of fossilized animal bones have been found at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, many dating back to the last ice age. There are also huge quantities of fossilized plants and insects altogether these pits have provided a fascinating view of life in the Los Angeles area some 38,000 years ago.

california-condor

Many of the species found at La Brea are still there today, including the California condor.

MORE PREDATORS THAN PREY?

Smilodon_and_Canis_dirus-fighting-for-this-mammoth-corpse

Smilodon and Canis Dirus fighting for this corpse

One interesting fact shown by the fossils at La Brea is that more than 90 percent of the mammals are carnivores. Why? Perhaps it’s because if a single herbivore became trapped, its struggles would draw predators and scavengers hoping for an easy meal, who in turn became trapped.

WHAT A MAMMOTH FIND!

la-brea-mammoth

More than 60 species of mammal have been found at La Brea, including some fine specimens of mammoths. A special museum houses the finds.

SKULLS

la-brea-dire-wolves-skulls

More than 4,000 dire wolves have been discovered in La Brea tar pits. Dire wolves became extinct some 10,000 years ago.

Altogether, more than 3.5 million specimens have been recovered from La Brea, representing nearly 650 species of plant and animal.

FACT FILE

All these animals have been found at La Brea:

Herbivores
■ Mammoth
■ American mastodon|
■ Ground sloth
■ Shasta ground sloth
■ Ancient bison
■ American camel
■ Stilt-legged llama
■ Horse
■ Pronghorn
■ Tar-pit pronghorn
■ California tapir
■ Elk (wapiti)
■ Deer

Carnivores
■ Short-faced bear
■ Brown bear
■ Black bear
■ American lion
■ Saber-toothed cat (Smilodon)
■ Jaguar
■ American cheetah
■ Cougar
■ Dire wolf
■ Gray wolf
■ Coyote
■ Weasel

Birds
■ California condor
■ Eagle
■ Hawk
■ Falcon
■ Vulture
■ Sandhill crane
■ Canada goose
■ Mallard duck
■ Night heron
■ La Brea stork
■ Grebe
■ Cormorant
■ Magpie
■ Great horned owl
■ La Brea owl
■ Greater roadrunner
■ Band-tailed pigeon
■ Curlew
■ California quail

Reptiles, amphibians, and fish
■ Kingsnake
■ Garter snake
■ Pond turtle
■ Rainbow trout
■ Rattlesnake
■ Salamander
■ Three-spined stickleback
■ Tree frog
■ Toad

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