Los Angeles, California is a very diverse and exciting city, but perhaps one of the most interesting tourist sites to visit is the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum. The tar pits were and still are, a natural tar seep. Its age is estimated to be around 40,000 years old and has the dubious honor of being a death trap to a whole host of ancient animals, including mammoths, saber toothed cats, dire wolves and giant ground sloths. There have also been fossil remains of plants and human artifacts found in the area.
The attraction of the La Brea tar pits is popular with children as well as adults and can make a wonderful trip to explore the history of Los Angeles and learn about the ice age. There are several life sized replicas of mammoths and saber toothed cats stuck in the tar, which lends a touch of realism to the terror that must have been felt by the animals. While the spectacle looks fairly life like, it shouldn’t be disturbing to small children since parents can explain that the models are replicas. The Page Museum, located right at the tar pits, has very good exhibits and skeletons. There is also a viewing area where visitors can watch archaeologists and volunteers cleaning and examining artifacts. Since the tar pits are an active archaeological site, new discoveries are being made all the time.
There are volunteer opportunities for those people who might be interested in donating a little time to help out the archaeologists. The tar pits have been excavated since the early 1900s and over a million bones and fragments of bones have been discovered. There have been bones removed from hundreds of animals (vertebrates), plants and invertebrates. The most common animals found in the tar pits are the dire wolves and saber toothed cats, probably because they tried to scavenge the trapped animals and then became trapped in the gooey tar themselves.
The tar pits and Page Museum are an educational facility that many local schools use for field trips, but thousands of visitors from all over the country, or even outside of the country, visit the site each year. The hours of operation are only during the daylight hours, closing at 5:00 pm each day, even on the weekends. While the tar pits themselves are free, the museum charges a very reasonable admission price and there is also a small parking fee, since there is very limited on street parking. For families, or individuals, visiting the Los Angeles area, it’s worth a side trip to stop by the tar pits and Page museum.