La Brea Tar Pits

Situated within what was once the Mexican Land Grant of Rancho La Brea, and now part of Urban Los Angeles in the Miracle Mile District, the La Brea Tar Pits and C. George Page Museum in Hancock Park are a fascinating detour from the standard tourist fare and fascinating attractions that should find their way to every closet Paleontologist’s must-see agenda. Surely you’ve heard of them somewhere in your studies, years ago perhaps…3rd grade, maybe? In all likelihood you’ve stepped in viscous, hot tar on a scorching Summer’s day and been frustrated by its persistence on your shoe. Imagine, if you will, a hungry pack of fearless Dire Wolves tearing through the grasslands, hot on the trail of a single, startled young deer…racing to flank their intended prey, a favorite feast on the night’s menu. Now…they pull up short, when the Alpha male nearly vanishes from view; a second wolf stumbles face first into the muck and flailing, starts to sink; fierce growls and blood-chilling howls turned to panicked staccato barks and a few terrified screams as the wolves struggle and slip rather quickly beneath the surface of the stick and leaf covered dark pool. The intended prey escapes; the rest of the pack backs slowly away from the bubbling pit ahead but quickly meet the same demise a few yards away from the mysterious blackness that devoured the first two hunters. And so it went. Today, as the ever-changing La Brea Tar Pits are excavated, similar stories are imagined in the minds of Paleontologists and their fervent volunteers mining the asphalt pits of their victims, and retold time and again through careful reconstructions of these fine specimens displayed at Page Museum.

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