Fossil insect traces reveal ancient climate, entrapment, and fossilization at La Brea Tar Pits

Fossil insect traces reveal ancient climate, entrapment, and fossilization at La Brea Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits have stirred the imaginations of scientists and the public for over a century. But the amount of time it took for ancient animals to become buried in asphalt after enduring gruesome deaths has remained a mystery. Recent forensic investigations reveal new insights into fossilization and the prevailing climate at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits toward the end of the last Ice Age.

via ScienceDaily: Top Science News:

July 3, 2013 — The La Brea Tar Pits have stirred the imaginations of scientists and the public alike for over a century. But the amount of time it took for ancient animals to become buried in asphalt after enduring their gruesome deaths has remained a mystery. Recent forensic investigations, led by Anna R. Holden of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) and colleagues, reveal new insights into fossilization and the prevailing climate at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits toward the end of the last Ice Age.The paper, entitled “Paleoecological and taphonomic implications of insect-damaged Pleistocene vertebrate remains from Rancho La Brea, southern California,” is published in the journal PLoS ONE.The first step was to identify the insect traces. Holden and colleagues determined that different larval beetles were responsible for the exceptionally preserved traces on the bones of ancient mammals. By identifying those traces and researching the biology of the trace-maker, the team was able to pinpoint the climatic conditions and the minimum number of days it took for some of the carcasses to become submerged in the entrapping asphalt. Even after 10,000-60,000 years, the traces provide clear evidence that submergence took at least 17-20 weeks and occurred during warm to hot weather.Holden conducted the study with paleontologist Dr. John M. Harris, Chief Curator of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, and Robert M. Timm, from Kansas University, who manages a dermestid beetle colony for research specimen preparation. …

For more info: Fossil insect traces reveal ancient climate, entrapment, and fossilization at La Brea Tar Pits

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Fossil insect traces reveal ancient climate, entrapment, and fossilization at La Brea Tar Pits

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