Environment & Science

Metro crew digs up ancient bones from bison, giant sloth

The sloth bone is at left, the bison bone at right.
The sloth bone is at left, the bison bone at right.
Metro
The sloth bone is at left, the bison bone at right.
Another view of the sloth bone at left and the bison bone at right.
Metro
The sloth bone is at left, the bison bone at right.
Harlan’s ground sloth
La Brea Tar Pits
The sloth bone is at left, the bison bone at right.
Ancient bison
La Brea Tar Pits


Another day of subway excavation, another set of ancient animal bones.

Workers last month stumbled upon two bone fragments while digging for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Crenshaw/LAX line.

"Immediately work was stopped and the experts came in and they took a look and did their proper recovery," Metro spokesperson Jose Ubaldo said.

The bones were found 16 feet underground, near 63rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard.

Experts from the La Brea Tar Pits and Paleo Solutions analyzed the finds, determining that one is a fragment from a bison's leg and the other is a sloth's hip joint.

They're excited that the sloth bone might come from a Harlan’s Ground Sloth, which could have weighed up to 1,500 pounds and measured 10-feet long. It's the largest and most common of three species of ground sloth found at the Tar Pits.

Scientists believe the animals lived between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, during the late Pleistocene Era.

When construction is complete, the bones will go on display at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.

This is the second such discovery along the Crenshaw/LAX line since work began more than three years ago. The 8.5-mile corridor is expected to open by fall 2018.