Between 11,000 and 50,000 years ago, thousands of animals became trapped in natural asphalt in the area that is now Los Angeles. Many died of hunger, thirst, or exhaustion after days of being stuck; others were preyed upon by dire wolves or saber-toothed cats, which often became stuck as well. Dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, and coyotes are the three most common animals that scientists have found in the tar, but the bones of more than 200 vertebrate species in total have been recovered, as well as several plants and invertebrates. The discovery of new asphalt deposits means that the collections at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum will only keep growing in the near future.
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Key Facts In This Video
Thousands of years ago, animals became caught in the natural asphalt of the La Brea Tar Pits, and eventually died from exhaustion, hunger, or predation. 00:40
Evidence of healed injuries on dire wolf skeletons suggest that the wolves ran in packs. 02:07
Marks left by flesh-eating beetles on bones found in tar pits can help scientists determine how long the bones were above the tar. 04:34