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Earth Science

Major Cache of Fossils Unearthed In Los Angeles 215

Posted by kdawson
from the sticky-underfoot dept.
aedmunde sends along news from the LA Times: "A nearly intact mammoth, dubbed Zed, is among the remarkable discoveries near the La Brea Tar Pits. It's the largest known deposit of Pleistocene ice age fossils... in what might seem to be the unlikeliest of places — under an old May Co. parking lot in L.A.'s tony Miracle Mile shopping district. ...huge chunks of soil from the site have been removed intact and now sit in large wooden crates on the back lot... The 23 crates range... from the size of a desk to that of a small delivery truck... There were, in fact, 16 separate deposits on the site, an amount that, by her estimate, would have taken 20 years to excavate conventionally. ... Carefully identifying the edges of each deposit, her team dug trenches around them and underneath, isolating the deposits on dirt pedestals. After wrapping heavy plastic around the deposits, workers built wooden crates similar to tree boxes and lifted them out individually with a heavy crane. The biggest one weighed 123,000 pounds."
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Major Cache of Fossils Unearthed In Los Angeles

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  • by iYk6 (1425255) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @02:26AM (#26899129)

    They are called, "old people", and yes, there are a lot of them in L.A.

  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by hiojay (1318063) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @02:30AM (#26899145)
    Wow, that's a mammoth of a find.
  • by heretic108 (454817) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @02:38AM (#26899193)

    The fossils were found under a parking lot.

    Obvious really - Thag and his wife Urga came back from the show to find their trusty mammoth leg-clamped for over-parking. They couldn't afford the unclamping fee, so had to walk home. The rest is history.

    • by Plutonite (999141)

      Some people really do deserve to get towed away by a troop of Velociraptors, especially those unevolved idiots who park in front of the mammoth stables. Some of us have to go hunting in the morning, you know.

    • Or, it was that drive-up place where you can get a side of bronto ribs delivered right to your car. People tend to just toss the bones aside afterward.
  • doh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @02:57AM (#26899279)

    > "in what might seem to be the unlikeliest of places..."

    Hey, Marge! I found fossils in a known tar pit - who would have guessed.....!!

  • ObFuturama (Score:2, Funny)

    by Chris Tucker (302549)

    (Leela and Fry are in the Planet Express ship, trapped deep in the La Brea tar pits! Seeking any means of escape from Certain Doom, Leela scans the endless depths of their petroleum prison...)

    [Leela looks at a scanner.]

    LEELA

  • Confusing (Score:5, Funny)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @03:15AM (#26899379)
    from the size of a desk to that of a small delivery truck

    For those of you who prefer more conventional measurement units, that's between 0.35 and 2.5 volkswagens.
    • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @08:41AM (#26900739) Journal

      I am so sick of every thread turning into some goddamn crusade for the metric system.

      Look, people, this was in the US, so we're simply going to use the imperial system (.08 to 0.6 Chrysler Imperials).

      • by genner (694963) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @10:58AM (#26901817)

        I am so sick of every thread turning into some goddamn crusade for the metric system.

        Look, people, this was in the US, so we're simply going to use the imperial system (.08 to 0.6 Chrysler Imperials).

        My car gets 40 rods to the hog's head and that's the way I like it.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        Per Road & Track, my '70 Impala Sport Coup's trunk is large enough to carry 14 suitcases or a dead horse. Would that mean an Impala has a 1/2 Mammoth cargo capacity?

    • Dammit...what is the conversion formula for Volkswagens to Library Of Congresses?

      Or am I confusing dry weight with volumetric measurement?

      Oh...drat...maybe Library Of Congresses only convert into teraGutenbergs?

  • Multiple redundancy (Score:5, Informative)

    by techno-vampire (666512) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @03:20AM (#26899401) Homepage
    Just in case anybody cares, "La Brea" is Spanish for "the Tar," so "The La Brea Tar Pits" translates into "The The Tar Tar Pits."
  • Beverly Hills!!!

    What I don't understand is why this is news.
  • TAR PITS! (Score:3, Funny)

    by n6kuy (172098) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @03:57AM (#26899563)

    (Pico and Sepulveda...)
    (Pico and Sepulveda...)
    Doheney...
    Cahuenga...
    La Brea...
    TAR PITS! [youtube.com]

    • by adavies42 (746183)
      zippy? someone let you out of your cage?
    • by NekSnappa (803141)
      Thanks man!
      You just gave me a flashback to when I used to listen to Dr. Demento every Sunday evening.
      Every now and then I used to be able to catch the Top 10 in syndication out here in the mid-atlantic area. But nothing is the same as 6-10 on a hot California Sunday night when I was 17-18 years old out bombing around in my '73 Nova listening to Dr. D.
  • by DavoMan (759653) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @04:33AM (#26899715)
    Have they found the MPAA's business model yet?
    ziiing! ;)
    • by jd (1658)

      That was covered in a story some time back on the earliest evidence of microbial life.

  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @05:15AM (#26899877) Homepage Journal

    This story is tagged "metricplease", but they didn't have the metric system in the mesozoic era. Sheesh.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#26903579) Homepage

      This story is tagged "metricplease", but they didn't have the metric system in the mesozoic era. Sheesh.

      They almost did!

      In SE Asia they found a fossilized homo erectus, and in its hand it was holding a stone rod which was divided by carved grooves into ten equal sections, which were each then subdivided by smaller grooves into ten sections. Embedded in the specimen's skull was another rod, which was divided into twelve sections, with sixteen subdivisions.

      Thus we have evidence of the oldest known metric vs imperial argument, and its resolution. While anthropologists do not know the identity of the assailant who doomed the entire pleistocene to imperial measurements, it is assumed they were an early form of Yankee.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @06:18AM (#26900117)

    What's that in less historic money? ;-)

    interesting - do you guys over the pond use tons for big numbers or do you stick to pounds all the way up? Curious about the expression "123,000 pounds" - isn't that something like 100 tons or so? (he says plucking a figure out the air and being lazy ;-) )

    Here we'd say kg for small numbers, but once we'd got to a thousand we'd shift to (metric) tons, e.g. "over 123 tons" not "over 123,000 kg". Or is that domain specific? do some things get measured in pounds all the way up, but others you shift into talking about tons? What do you measure aircraft carriers etc in? millions of pounds?

    Great news though on the main topic, it will keep some university researchers happily employed for a good while!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by repvik (96666)

      Aircraft carriers are measured in ounces.

      • by fantomas (94850)

        hahaha nice one :-) we of course measure them in grams or occasionally gills displacement.

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      You'll probably not get any other serious replies, so here I go.

      At least in my experience, the use of the unit 'ton' is most often encountered when dealing with some sort of profession that deals in things by weight. The average citizen really has no benchmark as to how much a ton of anything is, so laypeople use pounds. Large trucks and cranes are rated in tons, and scrap iron dealers, lumberjacks, etc use tons, but you don't normally hear it in everyday conversation. Interestingly, our roadway load limit [trafficsign.us]

    • by Teun (17872) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @09:40AM (#26901073) Homepage
      You got a point.

      But the explanation is rather mundane, lets take some hypothetical super tanker accident.

      The oil company will claim less than ten thousand tons of oil might have leaked away.
      The clean up company will report about fifty five thousand barrels of oil to collect and Green Peace will talk about a disaster involving over twelve million litres of crude oil polluting the environment.

  • I don't see why this is so surprising a location - it is just down the street (Wilshire) from the La Brea tar pits.

  • Not fossils - bones! (Score:5, Informative)

    by benwiggy (1262536) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @07:45AM (#26900503)
    I was shown around the crates late last year. They are not fossils - they are bones that have been preserved by the tar. They have not undergone transformation in sedimentary rock.
    I also gave the tar a good poking with a stick. It's easy to see how large four-legged animals would get stuck in it.
    The museum also has a huge collection of sabre-tooth tigers - who thought all the stuck prey would be an easy catch....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Toad-san (64810)

      Good point. NOT fossils. Chemically preserved.

      There are also questions about exactly what happened at those "tar pits". Ye Olde Idea of critters getting stuck in the tar (maybe beneath a watering hole), predators coming and getting stuck, etc. has been severely questioned. Mainly because of a real lack of complete skeletons, many bones found at the bottom of very narrowly necked holes, etc. And WAY too many predators (and very few birds, especially vulture types).

      Interesting place, but the entire conce

    • They also have a collection a humans who were either trying to drink the water floating on the tar (for those non-locals, reading this, the tar pits look like a small lake.) and thought they were smarter then the animals who tried and got stuck.

      BTW, a smart human who falls in should look at the ducks that are around. It is easy to swim to the edge because people will float on both water and tar. Lay flat on your back and you don't sink. But then I bet few of the native Americans living 10,000 years ago k

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @09:30AM (#26900997) Homepage Journal

    but the article says they took over 3 months to unearth them TWO YEARS ago. Kind of took a little excitement out of it to get nearly through the whole article to find out this all took place years ago. Would have been nice to have more pictures of the process and maybe an explanation as to how they found the edges of the deposits - ground penetrating radar maybe?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by benwiggy (1262536)
      They moved the earth out of the building site two years ago. It's taken them two years to go through enough of it to make a worthwhile announcement.
      There's still loads of it left that they haven't got round to yet.

      Tsk. Kids today, they want their archaeologic research done at broadband speeds.

      • by BLKMGK (34057)

        So they had no idea what they had then and just excavated tons of dirt? Somehow I don't think so. It would seem they had some idea then what they had and an announcement of a find and innovative removal method would have been pretty cool to hear about. I stand by my initial comment - the Slashdot summary makes it sound as if this was just now found when in fact it's been ongoing research for over two years. Doesn't lessen the significance but it does tend to be less sensational when you're a little clearer

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by benwiggy (1262536)
          Well, IANAA, but they knew there would be "stuff", given the location. Certainly, some prior analysis was done. But when I saw the crates in December, they were still excited about what they might find. They didn't say "we're looking forward to digging out the dire-wolves in crate 12".
          Various bones are often tightly packed together with bones from other creatures and other matter, so until you actually remove the matrix and separate the bones, you don't know what you've got. But obviously, when part of a m
    • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @03:13PM (#26905325)

      as to how they found the edges of the deposits - ground penetrating radar maybe?

      Much of the area around there is just plain out dirt. The tar is in large pockets. They likely dug out the dirt. The tarpits are now surouned by a nice grass covered park. The tar is only in places where crude oil bubbles up through small cracks

      The entire area at one time was an oil feild. It was such an obvious place to drill because the oil was visible at the surface. So it was drilled and pumped out in the eraly 20th century, mostly. There are a few operating wells around still.

  • What do you mean nearly intact? Them just bones. Not nearly as intact as The Encino Man [imdb.com]
  • by Endo13 (1000782)

    You killed Zeddy!!

    You bastards!

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Wednesday February 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#26903605)

    Future archaeologists are going to be confused when they find all these dinosaurs buried in Hollywood. I predict that museums by then will have huge wax models of Will Smith riding a triceratops.

  • oh Know (Score:2, Redundant)

    by geekoid (135745)

    another one of gods tricks to try and make us believe the world is older then 6000 years so he can send us to hell~

  • by zaivala (887815)
    This post has unanimously been awarded the English Language Institute's New Adjective Award, for "best use of 'tony' as an adjective."

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