Saber-toothed Summer Self-Guided Tour
Go on the hunt and discover more about our very own Mid-city kitty as you track down saber-toothed cats around the museum and La Brea Tar Pits.
Picture yourself prowling La Brea Tar Pits and show us your best saber-toothed cat pose. Take pictures throughout your scavenger hunt and share them on social with #SabertoothedSummer.
Saber-toothed cats were the first fossils discovered at La Brea Tar Pits and are some of the most common fossils found in the asphalt. 7-inch canines tend to stand out! These killer kitties prowled Los Angeles until the end of the last Ice Age, and–don't be alarmed–there are a couple of big ones right near the entrance!
Stone Cold Cats
They’re hugging! Or maybe not? Saber-toothed cats would have been excellent grapplers. Learn how we know that inside, but first snap a selfie and be glad these cats are occupied or capture yourself doing your best grapple with somebody (ask first!).
But what about these other big cats? On the left of our affectionate Smilodons, you'll notice another pair of statues. These are one of the other big cats found at the Tar Pits: Panthera atrox, the American lion, one of the largest known cats.
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Look out! Saber-toothed cats were ambush predators, and it looks like there's a few more stone Smilodon we might've missed. Can you find them?
Scientists think that saber-toothed cats fed on mammoths and mastadons! Find out how we know at the next stop.
Hey, Grrl. I can see your bones.
What do you notice about this cat's pose? They're bent low in a crouch, ready to pounce! Saber-toothed cats probably weren't fast enough to run down their prey but ambushed their dinners. Can you match this saber-toothed cat pose?
Open wide! This saber-toothed cat skull with jaws open demonstrates the length of the canine teeth. Say, 'Ahhh' for the camera!
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Now that we know how paleontologists figured out how saber-toothed cats hunted and some of what they ate, look for another skeletal Smilodon on display.
Try to remain calm as you snag a selfie with this fossil feline. Take a close look at its vertebrae, the bones that make its spine. What do you think broken and healed bones tell us about how they hunted?
Think Outside the Litterbox
Fossil poop is literally too old to stink... well, Tar Pits fossil poop, called coprolites, smell a lot like tar. Can you find some saber-toothed scat? Don't worry, you won't step in it.
It's okay to touch it! Or don't!
Photo by Carrie Howard
Here's some real fossil poop right here from the Tar Pits. Coprolites like this fossil woodrat poo can tell scientists a lot about what extinct animals ate and how they lived.
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Scientists are working on fossils recently dug up right here from the Tar Pits!
Scientists are uncovering new fossils from the Tar Pits and learning more about the world of saber-toothed cats every day! But is there a saber-toothed cat working in the Fossil Lab?
Nibbles got into the Fossil Lab?!? How did you get in there? He's just a kitten, so the researchers are probably ok. If you can't find Nibbles in the Lab, he just might be walking around the museum.
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Ice Age paleontology is all in the hips.
Check out our updated display to explore Tar Pits excavation and the new discoveries being made with old fossils using modern medical science.
Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, CA, 2023.
Why is this saber-toothed cat fossil being x-rayed in a CT scanning machine? Find out in our new updated display cases!
This CT scan and 3D recreation of a saber-toothed cat hip affected by dysplasia showcase the intersection of Ice Age paleontology and modern medical science.
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Asphalt seeps like the Tar Pits are sometimes called predator traps. What do you think made meals that couldn't move so tempting?
Looks like you're the sloth here. The scimitar-toothed cat (Homotherium serum) was another pretty kitty with terrifying teeth. Show us your best saber-toothed cat pose and grab a picture before it's too late!
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Cool off in the Ice Age and explore the world of saber-toothed cats in our 3D film Titans of the Ice Age playing daily in the 3D Theater. You'll get to see saber-toothed cats in action!
After you see the film, try to answer the question: why do you think so many predators got trapped in the Tar Pits?
Even more rawr!
Now that you're a real saber-toothed cat person, why not come face-to-face with a life-size saber-toothed cat puppet in Ice Age Encounters. Travel back in time to Ice Age Los Angeles in this exciting live show. Our star Cali has a killer purr-sonality. She may look fierce, but you've nothing to worry about (unless you're a giant sloth, a mammoth, a mastodon, a bison, or a camel...)
Last stop: step outside for the last selfie stop at an active dig site!
Ice Age Science Is the Pits
See where all the saber-toothed science gets started at Pit 91
New fossils are being unearthed every day at La Brea Tar Pits. It's the only active dig site in a big city on the planet. Can you find one of the saber-toothed cat fossils found at Pit 91?
Can you picture yourself working in paleontology? With new discoveries happening daily, it's easy to get stuck in the field. Snap your last selfie then listen closely: you can hear the asphalt bubble.
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Turn that frown into a smilodon because Saber-toothed Summer is happening all season long!
Follow @thelabreatarpits on Instagram and @tarpits on Facebook for more fun saber-toothed cat facts and activities and share your pictures with #SabertoothedSummer