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Explore fossils and the Ice Age at the La Brea Tar Pits




Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
The Observation Pit opened in 1952. It remained the only fossil museum in Hancock Park until the Page Museum opened in 1977. (Archival image courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Vic Zanoni (center, in tie) points out a staging of bones that includes saber-toothed cats, ground sloths, and dire wolves. Zanoni was a watchman and tour guide through the 1950s. (Archival image courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Excavator Karin Rice displays some of the tools she uses to remove fossils from matrix in Pit 91. They range from hammers and chisels, to screwdrivers and dental picks. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
After they’re identified, catalogued, and data based, fossils like this striped skunk jawbone from Pit 91 join the other 5 million fossils from the tar pits. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
This eroded fossil pinecone from a cypress tree was found in Pit 91. It may indicate a cooler, wetter climate at the time it grew, between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Inside Pit 91, excavator Sean Campbell creates a grid across the matrix to help paleontologists track where each bone is found. (Photo by David Lauridsen, courtesy of NHM)
Page Museum visitors look inside the Fossil Lab, where fossils from the pit excavations are sorted, cleaned and examined by researchers. (Image courtesy of NHM)
Ryan Miller


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The Observation Pit at the La Brea Tar Pits will reopen this weekend after being closed to the public for decades. The pit will allow museum visitors a closer look at excavations just 15 feet below the observation area. The La Brea Tar Pits are home to some of the nation’s richest fossil collections — the introduction of the Page Museum’s excavator tour offers a more comprehensive glimpse of the Ice Age in Los Angeles.

Chief Curator John Harris says that the openings at the Page Museum will allow the public to “see what the excavators see,” close up looks at fossils from saber tooth tigers, mastodoons, and other animals preserved in the tar. What will paleontologists and visitors learn from the new observation areas at the La Brea Tar Pits?

Guest:

Aisling Farrell, Collections Manager at Rancho La Brea tar pits

Correction: An earlier version of this segment page incorrectly identified the museum paleontologists.