Panthera atrox are relatively rare at Rancho La Brea in contrast to smaller carnivores such as the saber-toothed cat Smilodon fatalis and the dire wolf Canis dirus. Complete individuals of any species are also extremely rare. However, the skeleton of this Panthera atrox nicknamed “Fluffy” is relatively complete. Thus far we have uncovered approximately 40% of this animal excluding the feet. However, there still may be more yet undiscovered at our excavation site. “Fluffy” gives paleontologists new and interesting data on limb proportions of these extinct felines. Continuing research includes taphonomic studies on how the bones were found in the ground.
Tiny bones are rare in the fossil record mostly because they are too small to be seen in the field. At Rancho La Brea however, unusual skeletal elements such as this 1/8 inch ear bone called the incus are recovered in the matrix surrounding larger bones when cleaned in the Fishbowl Lab.