Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Visit to the Tar Pits

Hi everyone! I hope all is well with you. I am doing great. I just got back from a cool field trip with Kristin!

This morning Kristin told me that she was taking me to a special place because I've been so good during our trip. She took me to a place called the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Guess what? It's a museum FULL of cool fossils.

I learned during my tour of the museum that nearly all of the fossils I saw were found in Hancock Park. That's the park surrounding the museum. Kristin says the museum gounds (and all of the city of Los Angeles) was under the ocean at one time. I had no idea! Here's a picture Kristin took in the park. really is in the middle of Los Angeles!

Then 100,000 years ago, something called the "Ice Age" ended and Los Angeles became land. Kristin says an area of oil remained just under the surface of the ground when the Ice Age ended. But, the oil would sometimes bubble up from the ground in the form of something called "asphalt." Lots of animals that lived in the Los Angeles area thousands of years ago would then get stuck in the asphalt and die. The people at the museum believe more than 10,000 animals got trapped over 30,000 years. Wow...that's a lot of animals over a really long period of time!

The animals that got trapped include birds, wolves, saber-tooth tigers, and something called a Columbian Mammoth. From the picture I saw in the museum, the Columbian Mammoth looks like a big elephant. The bones on display kind of look like they belong to an elephant, don't they?

The museum says this Columbian Mammoth was 12 feet tall and weighed 15,000 pounds when it got trapped in the La Brea tar pits. Wow! That's REALLY big.

After we walked through the museum, Kristin took me on a small tour of Hancock Park. I could smell something in the air as we walked around outside. Kristin says I was smelling the tar coming up from the ground. I didn't believe her until she pointed out the black stuff on the water of one of the "tar pits" outside the museum.

Did you see the big statues of the elephant-like animals behind me? Aren't they cool? If you look closely in the photo above you might be able to see some black stuff on the water. ( can click on the photos in the blog and they should come up larger on your screen). But just in case you can't see the tar, here's a close-up.

Yuck! That looks really sticky, doesn't it? I don't think I would want to get stuck in that. I might melt! I told Kristin the tar smells like the black stuff they use to make streets with. Kristin says the black stuff they use to make streets with is asphalt. Who knew?

Kristin says they are still finding bones in Hancock Park. One of the places they are still finding bones is called "Pit 91." The flags mark the spot where bones have been found.

After we walked around the park, Kristin took me to the museum store. She let me pick out a couple of books so I can learn more about the La Brea Tar Pits and the "Ice Age." She bought me a small stuffed saber-tooth tiger to remind me of my trip. Thanks Kristin!

Kristin says she and Rima still have some work to do on the radio program. Now I will have some books to read while she is working. Kristin says she should be done on Tuesday and we will fly home on Wednesday.

Until next time....