Mammoths, Saber-toothed Cats,and Wolves in Los Angeles, Ca!
La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, California
On June 27, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, discovered California when he sailed into San Diego Bay. There, he then found Native Indians, the Gabriela, and Tongva, who lived in the area for thousands of years. These natives built their boats from Redwood trees dragged from northern California and used the many tar pits for caulking of their boats and waterproofing of their baskets. By the time the Spanish arrived to settle the area in 1781, their numbers had dwindled to about 10,000. It was Friar Juan Respi, who first wrote of the tar pits of California.
The La Brea Tar Pits in the Hancock Park area were part of a Mexican Land Grant to Antonio Jose Rocha in 1828, who built his abode and farm on the land.
Before the significant discovery of the prehistoric bones from the tar pits, Mountain Man Jedediah Smith and Harrison Rogers were on an expedition to explore California and staying at San Gabriel Mission. It was here they were shown tar they used to pitch their roofs.
The La Brea tar pits were the richest ice age deposits in the world. Today those tar pits are in the heart of Los Angeles. It is almost unbelievable that over three million bones of Pleistocene animals, plants, insects, dust, pollen, and leaves have been found and all preserved by the tar pits, giving us a window into the past.
Discovered in 1901 by geologist W.W. Orcutt working for the Union Oil Company. He realized the bones were prehistoric ones. In commemoration of his discovery, a La Brea coyote was named in his honor, Canis la trans Orcutt. Excavations began in 1913 and again in the 1930s and 1940s. The public now became aware of the findings and clamored for more.
Today, the tar pits are part of the LA public park in the Miracle Mile area. The George C. Page Museum, 5801 Wilshire, LA, displays thousands of discoveries along with the history of Los Angeles.
Prehistoric Bones From Tar Pits
There have discovered, 100,000 species of birds, 231 species of vertebrates, 159 species of plants, 4000 skulls of wolves, and thousands of saber-toothed cats.
Recently, in 2006 while construction was going on for an underground parking garage, an almost complete mammoth was found and nicknamed ZED. It is believed ZED to be 40,000 years old. It is a rare find and on display in the museum.
Some animals that got trapped in the pit were then attacked by prey, thinking they had an easy meal, but then they were also caught in the pits.
There was at least one human's bones found. It was of a woman, age 17-25 at the time of her death and the bones were about 10,000 years old.
Some of the Prehistoric Animals of the Tar Pits
There have been over 231 species of vertebrates, 159 species of plants, 4000 wolf skulls, and thousands of saber-toothed cats. Over 100,000 species of birds, all preserved in the tar pits and displayed in the museum.
The giant bird, the Merriman's Teratorn, stands two-half feet tall, with a wingspan of 12 feet. Among the animals found were: giant ground sloth, ancient bison, short-faced bears, countless rodents, and gophers. Discoveries are on-going, and bones are discovered every day.
What a history Los Angeles has from Indigenous people, Spanish missions, oil fields, tar pits, ice age bones, Hollywood, movies, and famous stars.