Topanga Canyon

Geology:

Topanga Canyon is part of the Topanga Canyon Formation. It contains middle Miocene sandstone and siltstone.

Paleontology:

The sediments contain large quantities of gastropods and pelecypods (most are shell prints). It is recommended to go after a rain when the fossils have been washed (at least partially) out of the matrix.

topanga_shells

Directions: 

“from the Ventura Freeway (in the San Fernando Valley), get off at the Valley Circle/Mulholland Drive exit Turn left onto Valley Circle, cross over the freeway and proceed onto Mulholland Drive. Turn right onto Valmar Avenue — Valmar becomes Old Topanga Canyon Road. At Mulholland Highway, bear right and prepare to turn left back onto Old Topanga Canyon Road in 1/8 mile. Turn left and proceed up Old Topanga almost a mile, past the point where the road switches back upon itself. From this point until the top of the hill, you will encounter fossiliferous road cuts on your right. The first embankment contains a massive oyster reef.” (see first citation for source)

Works Cited:

Sam Park, “Fossil Collecting in California” (The Fossil Forum 2008) http://www.thefossilforum.com

“Topanga Canyon fossils,” (Rockhound Blog October 12, 2006) http://www.rockhoundblog.com

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La Brea Tar Pits

Background:

The pits are composed of heavy oil fractions called gilsonite, which emerged from the Earth as oil. These deposits had become topped with water, dust, and leaves. Animals would venture in and become trapped, luring predators who come to eat the animals and become trapped themselves. The thick tar then encases the bones, preserving them remarkably well.IMG_4872.JPG

Paleontology:

The preserved organisms in it are mainly from the Pleistocene epoch, although a great deal of finds date from prehistory (10 kya — 4 kya). Saber-toothed cats, mastodons, ground sloths, bison, western horse, and camelids are . Dire wolves are the most common large land mammal found there.

The La Brea Tar Pits Museum has made a beautiful timeline of the creatures found in the tar pits here.

Learn More about the Tar Pits and the Museum here, and watch Will Ferrell speak sabertooth.