The LaBrea Tarpits

The Page Museum at the LaBrea Tar Pits, located in the heart of Los Angeles California, is one of the most famous fossil sites in the world. The ice-age fossils that have been excavated here date back to as long as 40,000 years ago. Because this site is so interesting and it really is something that is better viewed than read about, we decided that a movie was the best way to present this museum. Please click the link below to see a short clip that we filmed. Thank you and enjoy!

Natural History Museum

About a week ago I went to visit the LA Natural History Museum and I had a great experience. I walked around by myself which is quite wonderful if you actually want to read the placards that explain each exhibit. I walked through most of the rooms there for each time period they were trying to capture. I learned a lot about dinosaurs, mammalian evolution, minerals, and new animals I have yet to find on my own.

Here’s me talking to these chatty Kathys near the front of the Museum. This is probably the most recognized part of the establishment of the T. rex and Triceratops dueling.

Here is an ancient amphibious mammal called a Paleoparadoxiid. This is more of a name for a group rather than a certain species, and that’s because this animal has yet to receive a name for its species or even its genus. It’s believed to look a lot like a hippopotamus, and is one of a line of species of mammals that transitioned back into an aquatic lifestyle. So this animal is likely closely related to whales. This animal seems to be well built for life in open water as well with its large, paddle-like feet. Isotopic analysis reveals that it probably lived off of marine plants.

I spent a lot of time looking at dinosaur fossils. There is something surreal about seeing these skulls and models of skeletons in person, because all you really have to do is put flesh and scales on it to see what the world looked like at one point. The closest skull is a Lambeosuarus, and behind that I believe is an Allosaurus. Lambeosaurus was a duck-billed dinosaur (a family called Hadrosaurs) and had a curiously shaped crest on its head which is common among Hadrosaurs. The nasal passages were intertwined in the crest so it could act as a snorkel, while the dinosaur ate marine plants much like the Paleoparadoxiid. Learning about all the whole other world that existed at this time, and how people are learning more about it through fossils has inspired me. I would really enjoy to someday go on a fossil dig and find myself an ancient artifact of a life long-gone, but evidently amazing.

Lichen & Moss

The recent weather made the ground on this hike very moist. As a result, we were able to see many smaller organisms that are not usually so obvious in the arid environments of Southern California. We saw different types of lichens, mosses, and liverworts. Along the trail we saw a few mushrooms and a really fuzzy fungus that was growing on scat. The moss and liverworts were all along the trail. When I looked closely at the green patches, I noticed many different species in just one small area. This day was an excellent
bird-watching day as well. We saw a thrasher singing atop a scrub oak that was only about ten feet away from us. There was also a flock of tiny gray birds consisting of roughly twenty individuals traveling from bush to bush. I also watched two ravens harassing a red-tailed hawk in the air. They would take turns swooping down and hitting the hawk until another hawk came and scared them away. Perhaps the most spectacular bird interaction I saw was a group of about five hummingbirds (Anna’s Hummingbird perhaps) that chased a falcon into a tree. —JORDAN HENDERSON