Death Trap

Figure.20  Pools of tar at the La Brea Tar pits.
La Brea Tar Pits

In California, not far from Los Angeles, great reservoirs of tar are preserved. These deposits are known as La Brea Tar Pits.
The tar pits formed when oil made its way to the surface where evaporation of the oil occurred, leaving pools of tar.

Figure.21  Dire wolf.

The La Brea Tar Pits are home to a vast number of Pleistocene vertebrates. In fact, they house over 650 species of organisms. The pit includes mammals, birds, plants, and insects. Here we are interested in the mammals. The most abundant animal there is the dire wolf (

Next to the wolf, the sabre-toothed cat is the most abundantly preserved. Hundreds of thousands of sabre-tooth bones have been uncovered, which illustrate a vast number of individuals. Of all the individuals found at the pit, most are carnivores. This can be explained, in theory, in that if a pack of sabre-tooths were to chase its prey into the pit, both would die. This theory would account for the vast number of carnivores, if it occurred approximately once every decade. This would validate the number of vertebrate carnivores found at the pit over a 30,000 year period (www.

It is a fortunate process when something like the La Brea Tar Pits occur. Hopefully, someday similar processes will be discovered and more can be learned about the past.