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La Brea Woman: Only (& Controversial) Human From La Brea Tar Pits

If one hasn't visited the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the other should. This website is active paleontological research in urban La and is a fantastic window into the Ice Age. Today the Tar Pits are within Los Angeles's Hancock Park and are open to the public. They are an energetic site, so new discoveries are being made constantly.

One of the greatest mysteries is that of the La Brea Woman – there are lots of theories but few answers at this time. While some everything has been determined of her, we still do not know as much as the greater famous case of “Otzi The Iceman discovered within the glacier within the European Alps.

What To Know Of The La Brea Tar Pits Of LA

The La Brea tar pits are within the city's Hancock Park and were formed when tar or pitch (called brea in Spanish), seeped up to the top over thousands of years. Because the heavy oil seeps towards the surface, it forms pools that become asphalt. Eventually, these harden into stubby mounds.

These pits have been a gold mine for preserving the Ice Age animals of history and therefore are among the best windows into the realm of the recent (relatively speaking) past.

  • Registered: The La Brea Tar Pits Are Registered Like a Natural Natural Landmark
  • Tar Pits: Makeup Of Heavy Oil Fractions (Called Gilsonite)
  • Oldest: The Oldest Known Material In The Pits is 38,000 Years of age

They became a death trap for animals. As one animal would wander in and get trapped, predators would come to consume the trapped animal and often find yourself in trouble themselves. It was a “predator trap” and there exist several predators including dire wolves, American lions, wolves, saber-toothed cats, and short-faced bears.

There is a few evidence that a few of the animal bones (like this of the Saber-toothed cat) show cut marks and may indicate that humans butchered a few of the animals held in the pit.

The Mystery From the La Brea Woman – The Only Human Discovered

But one major thing that's lacking – is human remains within the pits. It is known that the Native American Chumash and Tongva people and their ancestors were living in the region for thousands of years.

  • Use As Sealant: Native Americans Used The Tar To close Cracks In their Canoes

To date, just one human has ever been based in the pits – that of the La Brea Woman. This partial skeleton has been dated to around 10,000 years back and was between 17 and 25 years old during the time of her death.

Researchers have been able to find out more about her which is known she was very short. She would have stood around 4 feet, 8 -10 inches (1.5 meters) high. Judging from her teeth, she mostly ate a diet of stone-ground meal.

Her skull seemed to be found to have been fractured and some have suggested that they might have been killed with a blow towards the head. If true, then she may have been LA's first homicide victim.

The La Brea Woman:

  • Date: Around 10,220 to 10,250 Years Ago
  • Age: Between 17 and 28 Years Old
  • Height: 4-Foot, 8-10 Inches
  • Diet: Mostly Stone-Ground Meal

There have been many explanations and theories for her, but they happen to be mostly debunked and she or he remains a mystery. She was considered to have been ceremonially interred as she was found of a domesticated dog and in the pits. However it turned out that the dog is a lot more recent (only around 3,000 years of age).

The La Brea Woman was initially discovered in 1914 with no other human has been discovered there within the intervening century.

  • Recovered: From Pit 10 In the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits

In 2009, California forensic artist Melissa R. Cooper made a facial reconstruction based on her skull.

Visiting The La Brea Tar Pits And La Brea Woman

One can easily see most of the extraordinary finds from the pits within the dedicated George C. Page Museum. Here it's possible to see mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, plus much more ice-age megafauna displayed.

  • Address: 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
  • Hours Open: 9:30 am to five pm
  • Tuesday: closed
  • Admission: $15 For Adult and $7 For Children
  • Former Exhibit: Her Remains Were On Displayed At The George C. Page Museum – Since Removed

Her remains were on display in the George C. Page Museum in addition to a life-sized type of the girl of what is thought she appeared as if. But that exhibit was removed in 2004 out of concern for offending Native Americans. Today one may be able to see a replica.

The museum offers the opportunity to explore one of the most important Ice Age excavation sites in LA!

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