Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
Natural Oil & Gas Seeps in California
The Rancho La Brea Tar Pits is one of the world's most famous fossil localities, located 5 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Near the end of the Ice Age—about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago—saber-toothed cats, Columbian mammoths, American mastodons, and dire wolves roamed the Los Angeles Basin. Some of these animals, along with countless other animals and plants, became mired in pools of natural tar, or asphalt—a tragic ending for many prehistoric creatures, but a boon for today's paleontologists studying the Ice Age.
Learn more about the La Brea Tar Pits by visiting these excellent web sites:
This 1907 U.S. Geological Survey drawing shows how oil from underground rock layers migrates upward to fill the La Brea pits.
Drawing from "Rancho La Brea, A Record of Pleistocene Life in California"