EARTH Magazine: Tiny traces reveal big secrets at LA’s Le Brea Tar Pits

Photo courtesy of the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries.

Photo courtesy of the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries.

As many of you know, I don’t just write for fun. This is also how I make my living! If you’re curious about my science writing, my latest story for EARTH magazine just went live. This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve written for EARTH lately. I usually cover the geophysics beat – think earthquakes, plate tectonics and volcanoes – but every now and then I get to revisit my first geo-love: paleontology.

The La Brea tar pits in the middle of Los Angeles are known for turning up spectacularly preserved specimens of dire wolves, saber-tooth cats and woolly mammoths. But how long it took for the animals to sink down into the sticky tar after they became trapped has long been a mystery. Now a new study looking at the traces left by hungry bone-eating insects is providing a minimum time span for burial, as well as confirming some long-held suspicions about when the tar pits were at their most lethal.

To read the rest, click over to EARTH’s website. I haven’t been to La Brea yet ( I have been to LA) but it’s now at the top of my must-see-next-time-I’m-in-southern-California list!

Stay tuned for more from Scotland!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in Big Sky, Montana. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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3 Responses to EARTH Magazine: Tiny traces reveal big secrets at LA’s Le Brea Tar Pits

  1. Debra says:

    PBS is doing a special on Coydogs on January 22, 2014. Thought of you when I saw the post.

  2. Pingback: Hey Blonde Coyote, Will You Plan My Road Trip? | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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