Time travel to the pre-historic times with kids – check out La brea tar pits On Wilshire !
La Brea tar pits or “Un pozo de brea” – Probably one of a few museums in Los Angeles entirely designed for kids. Located immediately adjacent to LACMA it’s a little educational paradise for kids of all ages, and especially little ones. Tar pits on Wilshire is a fun and practical approach to visually understand what happened to animals and climate on our Planet in the last 50 000 years. Btw. Did you know that “La Brea” means “tar pits” in Spanish? Here’s a clip of Will Ferrell explaining the meaning of the “La Brea.”
Tip #1. Park for Free on the 6th street, a segment adjacent to the museum park has meters on it, the remaining street is free to park on and surprisingly for LA doesn’t require zoning permits!
A vast outside urban park consists of educational zones (tar pits), sculpture installations , gardens and the Page museum. Bunker-like structure with steal canopy roof has walls that slope into the surrounding landscape.
The building organically blends in with the nature giving it a very pleasant and peaceful appearance. The museum it exceptionally well designed having a single square shape room with a central atrium housing an orangery. It will be very hard to lose your kids in this museum.
Visitors simply free-flow from exhibit to exhibit in clockwise or opposite direction. There are two movie theaters in the building showing 30 min clips with great content. Most worthy movie – ” Titans of the Ice Age 3D ” explains what happened to a great number of animals that thrived during the last age. The movies are well executed with decent CGI.
The emotional scene of dying elephants on Wilshire
A never ending excavation currently goes on in multiple active pits on the premises.
The largest display pit aka the lake pit of La Brea tar pits showcases a dramatic scene from the Pleistocene era. A family of elephants mourning the entrapment of the mother. You can sense the approaching imminent end in the electrified air. The emotional scene totally resonates even with me as an adult.
Never have I seen such a horrifically pity look on a little elephant face . Can’t even imagine how many kids are scarred for life after seeing this expressive display. One blogger is terrified by seeing this scene as a child.
Perhaps it was done to keep the children away from the tar pits which by all means are pretty dangerous. The bubbling goop could swallow a child within seconds.
Big question! Can we clone the ice age animals from any of the remains excavated at the Un pozo de brea ?
Short answer is: NO. The tar only preserved the bone rigid structure and mineralized compounds for paleontologists to analyze. However, it is not entirely impossible. Well preserved viable remains of the of Mamoth and Saber toothed tiger are constantly found in Siberia – a region of modern day Russia.
Viable options to clone woolly mammoth & saber toothed tigers
Scientists from Japan and Russia collected intact samples with presumably preserved DNA. The short term plan is to clone ice age animals. A construction of ice age Jurassic park in Russia is actually already underway. Leading us to believe that idea of saber toothed tiger cloning not so farfetched. Check out this short story on Lyuba the baby mammoth .
DNA was not preserved by the tar. However the bones of an exceptionally large amount of animals entrapped in the mud throughout various eras are telling a picturesque story about what happened. Kids get to check out sculptures, skeletons and other engaging visual exhibits on their day as a paleontologists.
A paleontologist for a day at the tar pits on Wilshire
Latest fossil examinations are giving paleontologists crucial new insight allowing to inference the dietary preferences and other lifestyle aspects of the ice age inhabitants. The scientists at the Page museum performed an incredible job at restoration and preservation of the fossil remains.
One of the most impressive exhibits was the skull collection of dire wolves numbering in thousands! Apparently the canines became entrapped while chasing the prey into the swamps.
The tar in the bog was relentless to all living things. Here you will find carcasses giant sloths, camels and mastodons. Besides large animal skeletons tons of little ones including birds and rare specimens are also on display.
We were drawn to the museum by the pictures of the impressive mammoth tusks and ended up learning so much more! It’s a pretty informative and fascinating experience. Take a mini expedition to the ice age with your kids.
Enjoy your time in Los Angeles and check out our checklist of things to do in LA with kids!