|I have heard that the Tar Pits close to LA are a
good place to find fossils. Are there also
dinosaur fossils? Is it a fun place to visit?
|Question Date: 2003-05-09|
No, there are no dino fossils in the LaBrea
tar pits. Natural tar pits form when tar and
other oil like gooey stuff oozes up from the
source rocks that are buried a few kilometers in
sedimentary rocks. These natural seeps were a
place where animals of all sorts would hang out.
The smaller ones would get stuck and then the big
ones would come in to eat them and they would get
stuck also. Because tar is so sticky and thick,
the remains of these animals can be preserved . No
oxygen can get in and make things rot (oxidize).
AGE of the tar pits is roughly a 100 hundred
thousand years (100,000).
Look at this web site
and you will find a HUGE amount of information
LaBrea tar pits
It is a WAY COOL place to visit, but there
are no dinosaur fossils. The tar pits date
from somewhere around the Pleistocene Epoch in
geologic history, during the last ice age, about
10,000 to 40,000 years ago. Dinosaurs died out
at the end of the Cretacious Era - about 65
million years ago. The dinosaurs were long
gone by the time the tar pits were a flourishing
swamp area. The fossils you can find in the tar
pits are early mammals - woolly mammoths, saber
toothed cats, dire wolves, and eohippus (early
But you should definitely plan a trip there -
you can see the tar bubbling up from the ground,
and there is a museum that tells you all about the
history of the area and the types of animals that
were alive at that time, and hence the types of
fossils you find.
You can't collect any fossils yourself - there
are people who collect and catalog them for the
museum. But there is a window to their laboratory
where you can see the scientists and their helpers
working on the fossils, and there are places in
the park around the museum where you can go down
into the pits and look in, though you can't
actually walk through the areas where they are
The tar pits are actually in the
heart of downtown Los Angeles. You can get
information from the official website of the
There are no dinosaurs preserved in the La
Brea Tar Pits because the last of the dinosaurs
became extinct 65 million years ago , and the
oldest bones preserved at La Brea are only 40,000
You can find many other animals that are now
extinct, including saber-toothed cats and
mammoths, and birds like Merriam's Teratorn and
Grinnell's Eagle, in addition to bones of more
familiar animals. These fossils are preserved
remarkably well, and I think it is a wonderful
place to visit!
Yes, there are many fossils at the Tar Pits,
though they can't be collected by the public. The
displays are beautiful and definitely worth a
visit. The fossils from there are less than
40,000 years old (mostly saber-tooth cats,
elephants, sloths and other mammals). This deposit
is far too young to contain the usual kinds of
dinosaurs (T. rex etc.). Birds, of course, are a
living kind of feathered dinosaur. Since birds are
known from La Brea, in that sense one could say
that there are dinosaurs too!
I am to understand that they are fun to visit,
but I have never actually been there myself.
You will not find any dinosaur fossils because
the La Brea tar pits are not that old. You can
find fossils of animals that became extinct in the
past few tens of thousand years, such as mammoths,
saber-toothed tigers, etc.
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