On Wednesday, December 11, La Brea Tar Pits will be closing at 3pm for a special event. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Future Paleontologist

Dig up the past as you discover the science of the fossil’s journey from excavation to our collections. 

In the Park

As you wander through the park you will see “tar” still bubbling to the surface. This substance is really asphalt, that trapped unsuspecting animals and plants of the past. Today we are digging deep down into this gooey substance to find a time capsule of fossils left behind from 50,000 years ago.

Tar Bubble at the La Brea Tar Pits


Excavations

Discover how we are digging up the past at our active excavation sites.   

Pit 91 is a classic pit dig. Here you will find excavators in the summer and other months digging through the gooey asphalt. Make sure to read the panels on in the observation deck to see what they are finding and how they are recording these findings for their research.

Take a walk into the Observation Pit to get a close-up look of what it’s like to be inside a pit dig. Look down below at the fossil jumble of bones sticking through the surface. 

Project 23 is a fossil deposit that was found when LACMA was doing construction for their underground garage.  They crated it up and brought it to us here, where our excavators can be seen working here daily. This fossil deposit could double the size of our collections.

 at work in Pit 91, which has produced countless microfossils— tiny specimens such as a beetle’s wing or a rabbit’s jaw.

At work in Pit 91, which has produced countless microfossils—tiny specimens such as a beetle’s wing or a rabbit’s jaw.

observation pit at the tar pits
crate number 4 at the tar pits

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At work in Pit 91, which has produced countless microfossils—tiny specimens such as a beetle’s wing or a rabbit’s jaw.

In the Lab

After we excavate the fossils we bring them inside the museum into the Fossil Lab. Here watch as our scientists and volunteers are cleaning and cataloging before they are added to our collections. You can see bones from large animals such as saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths, and the small micro fossils that are giving us insight into the climate and environment of Ice Age Los Angeles. 

Look back behind our scientists to get a small glimpse of the vast collections that we’ve obtained from this rich fossil deposit. 

Onlookers watch scientists in the Fossil Lab


On Display

See reconstructed skeletons, models, and amazing fossil finds of the animals of the past that once roamed Ice Age Los Angeles on display throughout the museum. 

dire wolf wall at the tar pits
volunteer tar pits man holding skull

Create inspirational moments for our visitors.

mammoth exhibit tar pits mammoths and mastodons
smilodon skeleton inside tar pits interior
guest taking picture of sabertooth exhibit tar pits interior

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Create inspirational moments for our visitors.

Want more? Check out our other suggested itineraries below!