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).

Reptile Collections

Both lizards and snakes have been identified from Rancho La Brea. The most common snake is the semi-aquatic garter snake that feeds on frogs, tadpoles, and other aquatic animals.

But twelve other snake species have been identified along with seven species of lizard. Because these fossils are small and delicate they are often overlooked in the fossil record. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on these groups at Rancho La Brea.

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 Testudines 
Family Emydidae (turtles)
Actinemys marmorata (Baird and Girard, 1852) (western pond turtle)

Family Testudinadae (tortoises)
Geochelone  sp.


Order Squamata 
Family Anguidae (legless/reduced limb lizards)
Elgaria multicarinata (Blainville, 1835) (southern alligator lizard)
Anniella sp. Gray, 1852

Family Iguanidae (iguanas and relatives)
Phrynosoma coronatum (Blainville, 1835) (coast horned lizard )
Sceloporus magister Hallowell, 1854 (desert spiny lizard)
Sceloporus occidentalis Baird and Girard, 1852 (western fence lizard)
Uta stansburiana Baird and Girard, 1852 (common side-blotched lizard)

Family Scincidae (skinks)
Eumeces skiltonianus (Baird and Girard, 1852) (western skink)

Family Teiidae (whiptail Lizards)
Cnemidophorus tigris Baird and Girard, 1852 (western whiptail )

Family Colubridae (colubrid snakes)
Arizona elegans Kennicott, 1859 (glossy snake)
Coluber constrictor Linnaeus, 1766 (black racer)
Coluber constrictor mormon Baird and Girard,1852
Diadophis punctatus (Linnaeus, 1766) (ring-necked snake )
Hypsiglena torquata (Gunther, 1860) (night snake)
Lampropeltis getulus (Linnaeus, 1766) (common kingsnake)
Lampropeltis sp.
Masticophis lateralis (Hallowell, 1853) (California whipsnake)
Pituophis melanoleucus (Daudin, 1803) (pine snake)
Rhinocheilus lecontei Baird and Girard, 1853 (long-nosed snake)
Tantilla sp. (centipede snakes)
Thamnophis cf. T. couchi (Rossman and Stewart, 1987)
Thamnophis sirtalis (Linnaeus, 1758) (common garter snake)
Thamnophis sp.

Family Viperidae (vipers)
Crotalus viridis (Rafinesque, 1818) (pit viper)
Crotalus sp.