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Rancho La Brea: a record of Pleistocene life in California

Stock, Chester (1930) Rancho La Brea: a record of Pleistocene life in California. Science Series. Vol.1. Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History , Los Angeles, CA.

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The extremely unique collection of fossils secured from the asphalt deposits of Rancho La Brea finds no parallel among the great records of the past life of the earth brought to light by the paleontologist and geologist. Dating from a period not far remote in earth history, yet possessing presumably considerable antiquity as measured in terms of years, this collection furnishes a basis for reconstruction of a remarkably clear picture of life as it existed in the Los Angeles region of Southern California in late geologic time. Among the many outstanding features of the Rancho La Brea collection are to be noted at once the wealth of material represented principally by skulls, teeth, and skeletal elements. The specimens displayed in the exhibit hall of the Los Angeles Museum are but a part of the collection secured from the asphalt deposits. In not a few types, individual skulls and parts of skeletons are duplicated many times by specimens not on exhibition. This abundance of skull and skeletal material has permitted an opportunity to prepare mounted skeletons of many of the characteristic forms, particularly of the larger mammals. Moreover, the fine state of preservation of the material is sufficiently striking to be readily noted by the most casual observer. Lastly, a survey of the entire collection reveals an unusual variety of types, a fullness of life, that is encountered but rarely in the fossil record of a land-laid deposit at a single locality. More than one hundred different kinds of animals and plants have been described from Rancho La Brea. To this list doubtless other forms will be added as the study of the entire assemblage progresses. It is not surprising therefore that the occurrence and collection have aroused considerable interest on the part of the scientific specialist and of the layman. Much intensive research during the past twenty years or more has resulted in the accumulation of a fund of information relating to these deposits and their exhumed organic remains. This knowledge has been shared with the intelligent observer to whom fossils no longer make an appeal merely as objects of curiosity or as "medals of Creation." To further this interest and to serve the needs of the daily visitor to the exhibit hall of the Los Angeles Museum and the site of Rancho La Brea are the motivating desires prompting the present review of our knowledge of these deposits and their record of life. A final statement can not be presented until the studies of many groups of organisms occurring in the asphalt are completed. A number of problems still await critical investigation and their satisfactory solution is perhaps attendant upon a more comprehensive knowledge of the American life of the Pleistocene. Of special importance are questions which relate to the occurrence and to the position of Rancho La Brea in late geological time.

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Additional Information:© 1930 Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. The writer has drawn freely on the results obtained by a large group of students who have concerned themselves with Rancho La Brea and its fauna and flora. The appended bibliography citing many papers relating specifically to Rancho La Brea furnishes at a glance the long list of contributors to this field of investigation. To Dr. John C. Merriam are we indebted particularly for valuable contributions to the many aspects of the Rancho La Brea occurrence and for his special studies of the Pleistocene mammals. The studies of Dr. Loye Miller have established likewise a very substantial body of facts concerning the birds of the asphalt.
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Balch Graduate School of the Geological Sciences42
Series Name:Science Series
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191203-160736818
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100172
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Dec 2019 18:01
Last Modified:10 Dec 2019 15:15

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