Find out what Los Angeles was like 38,000 years ago at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Located in Miracle Mile on Wilshire Blvd, La Brea Tar Pits is a unique area of Los Angeles because its history goes back further than any other – waaaaaay back.
Nerd Alert! This exhibit offers pure geeky delight. It blew my mind to see the actual animals that were trapped – 38,000 years ago – in almost the exact spot I was standing. Pardon the gruesome description: they had a skeleton of a woman who had been murdered and tossed into the pit 9,000 years ago. Her skeleton was perfectly preserved.”
The World-Famous La Brea Tar Pits
Not many places in LA can stretch back more than a hundred years, but “The Pits” have a long history …dating back a full 38,000 years!
This cluster of tar pits has swallowed up many animals and its asphalt lakes are perfect for preserving bones and fossils. This gives us an inside look at the Los Angeles area before the motion picture was invented!
From 1915 to 1975, La Brea Tar Pits was an excavation site but in 1977 the owner opened a museum and named it after himself. The George C. Page Museum houses the many findings of the pits.
Tar-Covered Skeletons Reveal What the World Was Really Like
Taking a look around the museum you will come across many strange sites like a wall of hundreds of wolf heads – the tar pits were a sticky trap that caught thousands of animals over thousands of years! It also contains many specimens and life-size models including mammoths, wolves, bears, sloths and saber-toothed cats!
Spanish Explorers first made a written record of the tar pits in 1769, which would explain the spanish name. La Brea actually means: The Tar, so it’s technically called The Tar Tar Pits.
Kids Enjoy the Tar Pits, Too
You have to pay to enter the museum but walking around the actual tar pits is free. Its green grass is very scenic but don’t sit on it as tar creeps up from the ground in all sorts of places. You might want to check the bottom of your shoes before you get home too.
Although this is a great destination for a family trip, the grim models of a mammoth family tragically loosing a loved one as it sinks into the heavy oil is an odd sight, especially with smiling families posing for photos with them.
Inside the museum is displayed a skeleton of a 9,000 year-old woman who was murdered (skull crushed) and then tossed into the pits, where she was then perfectly preserved for thousands of years. It’s absolutely fascinating, but also a bit disturbing — so if you bring the kids, have your answers prepared!
The truth is that Los Angeles is an insiders’ city and so many of the newest and most enjoyable events and activities are not things you would typically discover during day-to-day living. To keep abreast of all the best things to do in Los Angeles, and the latest news and community information, visit lifequalityexaminer.com regularly, or if you have specific questions about Los Angeles real estate, call David at 310-345-6911.
Guided Tours at the Tar Pits
Before visiting call ahead and find out when the guided tours are. On my tour, the guide was amazing. He was an old man with a well-groomed grey mustache sporting a grey cap, large 1940s style pants and braces over a white shirt. He introduced himself by telling us how he got involved with La Brea Tar Pits. As a teenager, he heard that George C Page was paying young men to dig through the tar pits so he moved to Los Angeles and asked for a job. He’s been at the pits ever since, first as an excavationist and then as a member of the museum staff when it first opened.
The amount of history and detail he knew about the place was extraordinary and I couldn’t imagine a better guide than someone who’s lived their whole adult life at the Tar Pits.
There were other eccentricities you won’t find at other museums, on the grounds was a cowboy busker singing away old tunes with a La Brea twist. He transformed ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’ into ‘Old Man Page Had A Tar Pit’ and then proceeded to replace all the farm animals with the ice-age mammals in the museum. It was very grin-worthy.
They’re Still Pulling Animals Out of the Tar
La Brea is still a working excavation site. Although the big animals have all been removed they now concentrate on insects and plant life, including pollen grain. You can check out the ongoing excavation of Pit 91 from a viewing platform. Plus, they are always looking for volunteers if you want to get your hands dirty with the Paleontologists. Remember to bring clothes you’ll never wear again as no laundry detergent can remove asphalt.
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