(credit: Ken Wolter/shutterstock)

(credit: Ken Wolter/shutterstock)


Located in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, and adjacent to the famed LACMA, The La Brea Tar Pits make up the only active urban paleontological excavation site in the United States. Adjacent to the tar pits is the La Brea Tar Pits Museum which opened to the public in 1977. Inside are displays of Ice Age fossils including saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and mammoths that roamed this area 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. It’s a fascinating museum that offers a glimpse into some of the world’s largest and extinct animals that roamed the earth.
(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)

(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)


La Brea Tar Pits Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 763-3499
www.tarpits.org

What To See
(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)

(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)


At the museum, visitors can see life-size models of prehistoric animals like large woolly mammoths to saber-tooth cats and enjoy exhibits like live excavations, Titans of the Ice Age 3D, the Ice Age Encounters Show and the Fossil Lab year-round.

In addition, there is an endeavor to add to the Museum’s large collection of Ice Age specimens titled Project 23. In fact, The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is currently excavating at two dig sites and studying mammoths, dire wolves, saber-tooth cats, Ice Age birds and more in order to unearth the secrets of the time. Guests get to experience the entire process of the excavation by digging up fossils outside and then being brought inside their Fossil Lab where they can get an up close look at what they have found. In the Fossil Lab, scientists and volunteers prepare fossils and look to discover new clues from the active Ice Age dig site.

(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)

(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)


Ticket Information
Guests can get tickets both at the door and ahead of time online. General Museum admission tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and students (ages 13-17 or with a student ID) and $5 for children. Admission does include access to their 45 to 60 minute Excavator Tour which takes guests from their Fossil Lab to around the Lake Pit and park outside, to the Observation Pit and to Project 23
 
Additionally, The La Brea Tar Pits also have a new 3D Theater that is showing Titans of the Ice Age which is just $4 for adults and $3 for children. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays they also have a live performance with life-size Ice Age Puppets called Ice Age Encounters, this is also $4 for adults and $3 for children.
 
The museum offers several ticket packages to choose from. To find out more, and to plan your trip, visit their website.

Secrets of the Tar Pits
(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)

(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)


Think you know everything about the Tar Pits? There may not be many secrets about the Tar Pits and Museum, as well as some misconceptions.

  • There is no actual Tar in the Tar Pits. It’s actually asphalt.
  • The ‘Tar Pits’ is the only active urban dig site in the world and they are finding new fossils every day right in the middle of Los Angeles
  • Project 23 – When LACMA next door was building their garage they came across a fossil deposit and the Museum crated the original 23 crates to sort through. One of the biggest finds has been a near-complete Columbian mammoth they have named “Zed.”
  • There’s a difference between Ice Age animals like dire wolves, saber-tooth cats, mammoths, giant sloths and dinosaurs. Ice Age mammals lived 10,000-40,000 years ago in Los Angeles, while dinosaurs lived over 65 million years ago. There are no dinosaurs at the Tar Pits as LA was under ocean during the age of Dinosaurs.
  • Watch where you step as you walk the park, as ‘tar’ at times seeps through the surface and can be seen oozing out through the sidewalk on Wilshire from time to time. This is due to Miracle Mile sitting on top of an oil field
Article by Jarone Ashkenazi