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Rancho La Brea, Los Angeles

Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers work on a mammoth femur.
Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers work on a mammoth femur.

Things I’ve learned at Rancho La Brea:

1.) La Brea means “the tar” in Spanish, so if you say The La Brea Tar Pits, you’re really saying The The Tar Tar Pits

2.) The fossils found in the Tar Pits are from the Ice Age

3.) No dinosaur bones have ever been found at the Tar Pits because dinosaurs were extinct 65 million years before the Ice Age (and L.A. was underwater during the dinosaur years)

4.) Dinosaur books, toys and other dino-phernalia are still hot sellers in the museum’s gift shop

5.) La Brea docents don’t necessarily appreciate questions about dinosaurs.

Located on Wilshire Blvd in the Miracle Mile district, the La Brea Tar Pits is a smelly, wondrous and fascinating place. Tar continues to ooze up in spots around Hancock Park, where the odor of asphalt hangs heavy in the air.

On a recent trip, we followed the walking path through Hancock Park around the lake, where we watched shiny bubbles of methane simmer and pop across the oil-slick water’s surface. Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers busily worked on a mammoth femur. The nearly intact skeleton of the mammoth, nicknamed Zed, was discovered during a recent excavation. We watched the almost obsessive workings of the research team as they dug, scraped and brushed away at the asphalt-encrusted bones of the beast.

Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the short movie about how scientists presume thirsty water-seeking animals became trapped in the tar, their cries for help attracting predators who in turn got stuck in the muck to die alongside their prey. The strangely intense movie can make small children cry.

Also fascinating: the wall of hundreds upon hundreds of Dire wolf skulls, and Petri dishes of teeny-weeny mouse fossils.

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Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers work on a mammoth femur.
Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers work on a mammoth femur.

Things I’ve learned at Rancho La Brea:

1.) La Brea means “the tar” in Spanish, so if you say The La Brea Tar Pits, you’re really saying The The Tar Tar Pits

2.) The fossils found in the Tar Pits are from the Ice Age

3.) No dinosaur bones have ever been found at the Tar Pits because dinosaurs were extinct 65 million years before the Ice Age (and L.A. was underwater during the dinosaur years)

4.) Dinosaur books, toys and other dino-phernalia are still hot sellers in the museum’s gift shop

5.) La Brea docents don’t necessarily appreciate questions about dinosaurs.

Located on Wilshire Blvd in the Miracle Mile district, the La Brea Tar Pits is a smelly, wondrous and fascinating place. Tar continues to ooze up in spots around Hancock Park, where the odor of asphalt hangs heavy in the air.

On a recent trip, we followed the walking path through Hancock Park around the lake, where we watched shiny bubbles of methane simmer and pop across the oil-slick water’s surface. Inside the Page Museum's "fishbowl," researchers busily worked on a mammoth femur. The nearly intact skeleton of the mammoth, nicknamed Zed, was discovered during a recent excavation. We watched the almost obsessive workings of the research team as they dug, scraped and brushed away at the asphalt-encrusted bones of the beast.

Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the short movie about how scientists presume thirsty water-seeking animals became trapped in the tar, their cries for help attracting predators who in turn got stuck in the muck to die alongside their prey. The strangely intense movie can make small children cry.

Also fascinating: the wall of hundreds upon hundreds of Dire wolf skulls, and Petri dishes of teeny-weeny mouse fossils.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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