Less Flashy Fossils Offer Paleoclimate Clues

17:14 minutes

Early excavators at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles focused on the flashy fossils: saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, mammoths, and mastodons. But they totally ignored the less charismatic remains of plants and insects, says John Harris, chief curator at the Page Museum at the tar pits. Today, he says, those microfossils offer scientists a glimpse of the climate of Los Angeles 27,000 years ago—when the area was cool and humid, more akin to Washington D.C. today.

Segment Guests

John Harris

John Harris is chief curator of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

Explore More