What’s Bubbling Up at the Tar Pits

By Michael Berick

Los Angeles museums

Find out what ancient fossils are being found in Pit 91. PHOTO COURTESY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF L.A. COUNTY

Young paleontology enthusiasts interested in visiting Los Angeles museums can dig up some interesting adventures at the La Brea Tar Pits this summer. Staff and volunteers at Pit 91 are focused on microfossils during their summer excavation work and will be recovering the bones of small birds, snakes and lizards. One of the Tar Pit’s original excavation locations, Pit 91 is open for public viewing Wed.-Sun.

Visitors can also watch excavators extract fossils from the Box 13 site, then visit the Fossil Lab inside the museum and see scientists inspecting the new findings. The most exciting of these are the “young” fossils – around 30,000 years old. Kids can even have the chance for some hands-on learning about how fossils are identified and categorized.

The nearby construction of the Metro Purple Line extension has also unearthed an array of archaeological discoveries, and Fossil Lab visitors can see work being done on a baby mammoth skull found under Wilshire Boulevard. Next door at the “Window into the Collection,” guests can watch as scientists use 3-D scanning and printing to digitize the museum’s collections and create a database accessible to scientists around the globe.

While work at Pit 91 typically concludes around Labor Day, the other attractions – along with favorites including the Observation Pit, the Ice Age Encounters and the family of mammoth sculptures – can be enjoyed by visitors throughout the year. The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (5801 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; www.tarpits.org) is open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (except major holidays). Admission is $12-$22 adults, $9-$19 students, $5-$15 children.

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