Notes from La Brea: Fossil Lab

This week is about cleaning and sorting: matrix from fossils, guesses from identifiers, non-microfossils from microfossils, bio-fuel from sediment, unexpected finds into new experiments, contaminants from useful data.

“The biggest picture we are trying to paint is of climate change over time – to see what happened in the past in order to help us to understand what is happening now.”

Photo of Hollywood sign taken at the intersection of Cochran and 8th while cycling to La Brea.

“At a time when libraries around the western world are in decline we are building a fossil library that will be here for generations to study.”

Sorting microfossils using a microscope and brush.

Preparator, “There are certain statistics you can run the more variance you have.”

Punter, “Let us know if you discover the significance of the 4000th juvenile saber tooth cat or dire wolf skull.”

One tray of many Canus Dirus (Dire Wolf) fossils documented and 3D scanned.

“Sometimes you ask yourself, ‘What’s the point of these frags’?”

Palaeolithic Period Venus (copy)  versus authentic Pleistocene Epoch fossils in the Fossil Lab.

“Pit averaging timescales is something we do at La Brea that’s not done in scientific journals. ¬†They need to be more specific about what’s happening with data and when.”

Deaccessioned Technical Reports repurposed as found sketchbooks at La Brea.



Taxa of Almeda, Butte and Contra Costa County, drawing, La Brea Park

Taxa of Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo and Kern County, ‘Flags at half mast’, drawing, La Brea Park

Taxa of Kern, King and Los Angeles County, ‘Flag not at half mast’, drawing, La Brea Park

Leave a Reply