The museum at La Brea Tar Pits remains closed until further notice. The park at La Brea Tar Pits is currently open, and visitors can see paleontologists working at our excavation site weekly. See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Fish Collections

Only three species of fish have been identified from Rancho La Brea thus far. 

Remains of rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, (mostly isolated vertebrae) and threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus (primarily pelvic spines), are both common. One dentary and two vertebrae represent one individual of arroyo chub, Gila orcutti. This is the first fossil record of Gila orcutti, but both the rainbow trout and particularly the threespine stickleback have extensive fossil records in the Western United States. Collectively the fish fossils indicate local, permanent stream conditions, and not stream transport from distant mountainous areas. No extinct freshwater fishes are known from Rancho La Brea deposits yet.

The following taxonomic list has been taken directly from the following reference but revisions may be necessary. 

Stock, C. 1992. Rancho La Brea: A record of Pleistocene life in California. 7th ed. Revised by J.M. Harris. Science Series no.37. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 113 pp. 

Order Salmoniformes
Family Salmonidae (Salmon/Trout/Freshwater Whitefish)
Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum 1792 (rainbow trout)


Order Cypriniformes 
Family Cyprinidae (Carps/Minnows)
Gila orcutti (Eigenmann and Eigenmann, 1890) (arroyo chub )


Order Gasterosteiformes 
Family Gasterosteidae (Sticklebacks)
Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758 (three-spined stickleback)