La Brea tar pits still pumping out history

The La Brea tar pits, just 7 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, have been a treasure trove for paleontologists for decades. Producing more than a million bones since their discovery, the sticky ponds that trapped living creatures tens of thousands of years ago are still pumping out history.

Work over the past few years has involved sifting through 23 boxed deposits and some 16,000 bones reports the Associated Press. Chief curator Dr. John Harris and lead excavator Carrie Howard have been going through the find, discovered in 2006 during the construction of an underground parking garage close to the tar pit location.

“We’re still trying to piece everything together” Harris said estimating it would take five
years to sort through, so long that work has been stopped on another area, Pit 91, where scientists have been working since 1989.

Pit 91 measures 28′ x 28′ and about 14 feet deep. 3′ square grids are used for excavation and after fossils are excavated, they are cleaned, identified, labeled, catalogued and put in storage where they have been made available for research by professionals and students from around the world.

Called Project 23: New discoveries at Rancho La Brea, the Page Museum, part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, believes this find has the potential to double their collection by three to four million specimens.

Gadling listed the La Brea Tar Pits as one of the World’s Strangest Natural Wonders and it looks like the La Brea tar pits will still be pumping out history for some time to come.

Flickr photo by jkritchter

Day at the Pits from Andy Chen on Vimeo.