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The Ultimate La Brea Tar Pits Quiz
by Staff
Over the years, archaeologists have excavated an abundance of important fossils from the La Brea Tar Pits, also known as Rancho La Brea. How knowledgeable are you about this prehistoric place of many a mammoth's demise?

Where are the La Brea Tar Pits located?

  • Mexico City
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego

How old are the majority of the Ice Age fossils found in the La Brea Tar Pits?

  • Less than 10,000 years old
  • 10,000 to 40,000 years old
  • Older than 40,000 years old

How many fossilized bones have been found in the tar pits?

  • Less than 100,000
  • About 500,000
  • More than 1,000,000

What species fell prey to the tar pits most frequently?

  • Dire wolves
  • Ground sloths
  • Woolly mammoths

What species came in second?

  • Saber-toothed cats
  • Short-faced bears
  • Dwarf pronghorns

Where does the tar in the pits come from?

  • The Salt Lake Oil Field
  • The Buena Vista Oil Field
  • The Long Beach Oil Field

Why do animals get trapped in the tar pits?

  • Prey often get trapped because the tar pits are concealed from the animals' sight.
  • Predators are often drawn by trapped prey and get trapped themselves.
  • Both

Couldn't the animals free themselves?

  • Of course, they just didn't know how.
  • Nope, asphalt is too powerful an adhesive.
  • Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

How often did large animals get caught in the tar pits?

  • It happened all the time
  • It was fairly rare
  • It was super uncommon

What's Project 23?

  • Project 23 is the excavation of the 23rd pit dug at Rancho La Brea.
  • Project 23 involves the study of 23 boxes of remains pulled whole from the ground.
  • Project 23 is the name for the collaboration of 23 research facilities for work at La Brea.

How much did the heaviest box weigh?

  • About 50,000 pounds (or around 23,000 kilograms)
  • About 100,000 pounds (or around 45,000 kilograms)
  • About 125,000 pounds (or around 55,000 kilograms)

How long did the process take?

  • About 3 months
  • About 7 months
  • About 12 months

What's one example of a unique find that's come out of Project 23?

  • Excavators aren't finding any fossilized invertebrates or plants mixed in with the remains of larger mammals.
  • Excavators are finding lower amounts of pit wear than is normally present in the fossils found at La Brea.
  • Excavators are actually finding both more pit wear and more fossilized forms of simple life than usual, at least in some of the boxes of deposits.

What's so special about the specimen nicknamed Zed, discovered during the course of Project 23?

  • Zed is a Columbian mammoth who was unearthed almost completely intact, including his full pair of tusks -- an occurrence that has never happened before at La Brea.
  • Zed is a specimen of a previously unknown species, believed to be a missing link between the western camel to the western horse.
  • Zed is a fossilized female dire wolf, pregnant at the time of her demise -- a state that has helped increase understanding of how pups were carried in the womb.

How many fossils is Project 23 expected to add to the La Brea collection?

  • Project 23 is expected to increase the collection by 100,000 specimens of all shapes and sizes.
  • Project 23 is expected to increase the collection by a million specimens.
  • Project 23 is expected to double the number of specimens pulled from the tar pits to date.

What is the asphalt in the tar pits comprised of?

  • Ancient marine life
  • Ancient terrestrial life
  • Neither

What causes the tar pits to bubble?

  • Bacteria burp up methane as a byproduct after consuming petroleum.
  • Fossils deteriorate and methane is released in the process.
  • Magma is mixed in with the petroleum and the methane bubbles originate there.

Who donated the Rancho La Brea lands to Los Angeles County for scientific study and preservation?

  • George C. Page
  • George Allan Hancock
  • William S. Hart

Who donated the money for the museum dedicated to the La Brea Tar Pits?

  • George C. Page
  • George Allan Hancock
  • William S. Hart

How many visitors did the museum receive in its first 10 years?

  • 2 million
  • 5 million
  • 10 million