Environment & Science

Free entrance Monday to La Brea Tar Pits for 100th anniversary

Mammoth scene at La Brea Tar Pits
Mammoth scene at La Brea Tar Pits
Photo by Travis S. via Flickr Creative Commons

In commemoration of the Natural History Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits' 100-year anniversary, the Page Museum is giving out free tickets for entrance Monday.

The tar pits, an official national landmark, are made up of more than 100 manmade pits in a location where tar has seeped up from the ground for tens of thousands of years. Over that time, bones of animals trapped in the tar were preserved — so well that they are very similar to living bones, says John Harris, a paleontologist and chief curator at the Page Museum.

Despite being mined for more than 100 years, "The La Brea Tar Pits have remained the most significant source of ice age fossils in this country, if not the world," says Harris.

"The thing that has impressed me is the great diversity of different creatures that were somehow trapped in the tar," says Harris, who has been with the Page Museum since 1980. "When I first came here, we were recovering all the fossils that we could from Pit 91 and that gave us a much bigger idea of the number of animals and plants preserved in the tar pits."

From saber-tooths and mammoths to snails and mice, the pits are filled with an abundance of fossils. More than 300 species have been discovered in the tar pits, Harris said.

In addition to free entrance Monday, the Page Museum will host a free performance of "Ice Age Encounters," featuring a life-sized saber-toothed cat puppet. 

The Natural History Museum, which was established in part to house fossils found at the Tar Pits, will be hosting two lectures next week for the 100-year anniversary.

More information can be found at tarpits.org and nhm.org.

This post has been updated.