Almost Fossils

Pit 91 La Brea Tar Pits. Photo courtesy Noella Ballenger.

Pit 91 La Brea Tar Pits. Photo courtesy Noella Ballenger.

Visitors to the Rancho La Brea “Tar Pits” are a bit incredulous when told large and powerful animals, such as the American lion, mastodon, and giant ground sloth, were snared in only a few inches of asphalt. Their expressions change, though, as they test their strength against the tar at an exhibit in the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries.

The puddles of asphalt exert incredible stopping power. Paleontologists at the tar pits report that, at other places where asphalt seeps through the ground, full-grown cattle have died after being trapped in just over an inch of asphalt. Less than half an inch got me. Continue reading