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The Fossil Resources from Rancho La Brea, Los Angeles, California

C. A. Shaw1 and G. C. Page2
1Rancho La Brea Section
2Museum of La Brea Discoveries, Los Angeles, CA

Asphalt seeping to the surface from a petroleum reservoir below Rancho La Brea has been utilized for centuries by local people, and was mined extensively for commercial purposes in the late nineteenth century. Late Pleistocene fossils of extinct animals, entrapped and preserved in asphaltic sands and clays, were first recognized in 1875 but intensive excavations to recover these resources began in 1907 and continue today.

An impressive record of late Pleistocene to early Holocene terrestrial plant and amimal life has been obtained in the past 95 years, and over four million specimens are conserved in the collections of the George C. Page Museum. Particularly striking is the quality of fossil preservation and the diversity of the organisms represented. The Rancho La Brea biota was selected as the standard assemblage for the late Pleistocene in North America, which was named the Rancholabrean Provincial Land Mammal Age. The acquisition of new data and/or the re-evaluation of previous discoveries continues to provide new information on the geology and biota.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90904©2001 AAPG Pacific Section Meeting, Universal City, California