Collection of Ice Age fossils found under parking next to La Brea Tar Pits

February 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES (ChattahBox) — The second-largest city in the U.S. is proven to have been highly populated in the Ice Age.

Researchers discovered 16 fossil deposits under an old parking lot next to the famous La Brea Tar Pits in 2006 and began sifting through them last summer.

Such a rich find typically takes years to excavate. But with a deadline looming to build an underground parking garage for the next-door art museum, researchers boxed up the deposits and lifted them out of the ground using a massive crane. It took 23 boxes to house the deposits.
Among the finds is a near-intact mammoth skeleton including 10-foot-long tusks, and bones of saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, bisons, horses, ground sloths and other mammals.

Officials of the Page Museum at the tar pits plan to formally announce their findings today (Wednesday). The discoveries could double the museum’s Ice Age collection.

Some scientists not connected with the discovery said this is the first significant fossil find since the original excavations at the tar pits more than a century ago.

The La Brea Tar Pits ranks among the world’s famous fossil sites, with more than a million bones unearthed from the sticky ponds. Between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth cats and other Ice Age beasts became trapped by sticky asphalt that oozed upward through cracks and fissures in the ground. The newly recovered fossils were also in asphalt.


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