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La Brea Tar Pits: A New Bubbling Discovery

One of the more interesting sites of the modern world meeting up with the prehistoric one that I've ever seen is in the section of Los Angeles where the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits are within walking distance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and high rise buildings. The prehistoric dates back to 40,000 years according to the oldest bone fragment found in the pits.

Recently, the La Brea Tar Pits have shown up on the radar screen of interesting facts. If you've ever been there, you've seen the black tar bubble and perhaps thought about the animals trapped here before the last Ice Age. Bones of 600 animals have been recovered and are on display in at the Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits at the site. Dire wolfs, saber-toothed cats, Shasta ground sloths, a Columbian mammoth and an American mastodon are part of the bounty. The reason why there are so many? Think food chain. One sloth gets stuck and along comes a dire wolf to get dinner. Then comes the saber-tooth and so on.

Turns out the bubbling is caused by bacteria and not oil production that was thought to be happening 1,000 feet below the sticky, black goo. The bacteria feeds on the petroleum of this natural asphalt at the site and burp methane gas.


Filed under: History, Learning, Stories, North America, United States

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