La Brea Tar Pits

July 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles, California

July 21, 2016

Located in the middle of Los Angeles, the tar pits are ancient oil pools that have been trapping, killing, and preserving large and small animals since the early Eocene. The pits are filled with the bones of mammoths, sloths, saber-toothed tigers, wolves, camels, horses, birds, reptiles, and even insects. They represent a unique and wonderful paleontological treasure. Photographically, the tar pits are difficult to capture.

Once, over twenty years ago, when I first visited the tar pits, most of the pits and their diggings were open as was the large lake of oil and water that fronts Wilshire Boulevard.  Today that lake is now surrounded by a tall wire fence (thus making photographs of the famous mammoth-caught-in-the-oil sculpture extremely difficult) and the pits that are under exploration are enclosed in small building which, in turn, are surrounded by chain link fences. The results of exploring the tar pits have been moved into a museum. All this sterility and formality makes photographing the human side of tar pit paleontology nearly impossible. We are only left with carefully displayed artifacts and museum employees pushing around carts of replica smilodon skulls. Hence, after Crystina and I spend a few hours rambling through the museum and grounds, all I am left with is a photograph of the marble relief sitting over the museum entrance.



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