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Things to Do Edited by Michael Juliano timeout.com/los-angeles/things-to-do @mjuliano


Things to Do


Buried treasure


One of L.A.’s most remarkable parks bubbles with asphalt and teems with scientists. By Michael Juliano


THE LA BREA Tar Pits and Museum are pretty surreal. “Our excavators get asked, ‘Oh, are you


actors? Robots?’ Or people think it’s an art exhibit because [the Los Angeles County Museum of Art] is right here,” says Emily Lindsey, assistant curator and excavation site director at the museum and active dig site. It’s not the only spot in oil-rich Southern


California where asphalt seeps up from the ground. But the site is uniquely plopped in the center of one of the continent’s largest cities,


and it’s open year-round to visitors. Since excavations began in the early 1900s,


between three and five million Ice Age fossils have been found at the tar pits. Some of those fully assembled skeletons, like mammoths and saber-toothed cats, reside in the museum. Outside, visitors can embark on a guided tour of the pits and watch as excavators unearth specimens at the year-round Project 23, or peer into the summertime digs at Pit 91. Most recent discoveries have come from


Project 23, a series of 23 wooden boxes—each between 9,000 and 123,000 pounds—that were carefully packed with fossil-rich dirt when LACMA began building its parking garage in 2006. Though only seven of the boxes have been thoroughly explored, hundreds of thousands of fossils have been exhumed since excavations began in 2008. “Surprise, if you dig underground next to one of the largest urban deposits of fossils in the world, you might find more fossils,” says fossil preparator Laura Tewksbury. She is down to the last foot and a half of dirt


in Box 14. There are chalk marks across the surface and trowel scrapes along the edges,


DISCOVER! Time Out Los Angeles July 12–October 10, 2017


with a jumble of wolf bones still lodged in the center and some weathered wooden boards keeping it all together. It’s not quite what you’d expect from a place


known for its persistent burps of asphalt bubbles. Contradicting common perceptions, the boxed dirt is mostly dry, free of the natural oil and groundwater that once made it a bit stickier; the crews at the tar pits aren’t


Uncover more of L.A.’s iconic museums at timeout.com/los-angeles/museums. 38


PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY


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