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Meshal Alnashwan

California State University, San Bernardino


A Visit to La Brea Tar Museum

1.0 Introduction

The visit to the La Brea Tar Museum would be one of the most influential experiences in my career and life as whole. The visit is one of the events that enhance my passion to advance my career in a history-related discipline. I believe that only the visit could equip me the immense knowledge that I now possess concerning some of the most admired historical facts and concepts. Through the museum tour, I have gathered substantial knowledge regarding the Pleistocene extinction. I now appreciate that most of the largest mammals that the present generation might admire to see perished during the Pleistocene era. Moreover, I have learned the lions, cats and other members of saber-toothed cat family have shared ancestry. I appreciate that the huge and powerful canines possessed by the saber-toothed cat family was a crucial component of their survival ways. The visit to the museum has familiarised me with several facts about the extinct camels. I admit the fact that camels are presently associated African and Asian deserts though; they originated from North America. On the other hand, the tour to La Brea Tar Museum has cleared my doubts regarding dinosaurs. Presently, I have indisputable knowledge about dinosaurs and the early carnivores. I have clear understanding on how dinosaurs emerged, survived as well as their extinction. Concerning the early carnivores, I admit that adaption to their feeding methods like the huge and powerful canines have not changed significantly throughout the evolution.

2.0 Pleistocene extinction

In essence, the visit to the La Brea Tar Museum enhanced my knowledge concerning the Pleistocene extinction. I learned from the visit that the change of climate among other factors led to the death of the last mammoths. It is clear to me that the mammoths disappeared approximately 3,700 years ago according to the human recorded history. Some historians associate the extinction with the comet impact and human actions. I am aware that the human beings contributed to the extinction of mammoths and Saber-toothed cats among other animals after visiting the La Brea Tar Museum. The impact of Pleistocene extinction was so extensive that it led to the loss of giant ground sloths, terror birds and the spotted hyenas in Europe. I have learned from the visit that the Pleistocene extinction was a world disaster and it did not take place at once (Haynes, 2009). Notably, the geological pattern of the extinction indicates that the extinction assumed the path of wandering human beings. During the tour, I read well that climate change and human beings are the key culprits of the Pleistocene extinction though, some historical scientists claim that a falling comet triggered the extinction. The mammoths disappeared shortly after human beings settled in their continent and, the historical records indicate the humans had developed weapons that they used to hunt some of the lost mammals. Despite these facts, the palaeontologists have persistently sought to establish how the human and climate led to Pleistocene extinction. I have learned from the visit that the Pleistocene period lasted for two million years.

Figure 1: Pleistocene extinction

3.0 Saber-Toothed Cat Family

The visit to the La Brea Tar Museum was a lifetime opportunity to acquire knowledge concerning the Saber-toothed cat family. I now understand that huge and sharp deadly canines characterize the Saber-toothed cat family. Most people consider that the saber-toothed carnivores as dangerous, frightening and violent predators. Interestingly, I realized from the visit that there are numerous kinds of “saber-toothed cats”. The members of the saber-toothed family comprise of bears, weasels, cats and dogs. I am now familiar with the fact that the saber-teeth evolved amongst the true cats’ family-Felidae as well as among the extinct the carnivore family- the Nimravidae. It remains clear to me that the saber-toothed cats inhabited South America from the upper Miocene until late Pliocene after the visit to La Brea Tar Museum. The palaeontologists have maintained that the saber-toothed family used the enormous teeth for grabbing and holding onto the prey or causing a fatal wound on the throat or the belly of the prey (Agustí & Antón, 2002). I discovered that the saber-toothed tiger (smilodon) is a notable member of saber-toothed cat family that appeared during the late Pleistocene and disappeared close to ten thousand years ago. I had a chance to study the fossils of Smilodon in the Museum whereby I discovered the bones provide an evidence of major crushing or fracture injuries. Based on the historical information I read during the museum tour, the Smilodon seems to have resided in packs and assumed a social organization similar to that of the contemporary lions. I acquired adequate knowledge regarding Hoplophoneus- a member of the saber-toothed cat that existed during the Oligocene period.

Figure 2: Saber-Toothed Cat Family

4.0 Extinct Camels

The tour to the La Brea Tar Museum gave me an opportunity to learn about the ancient camels-camelops. I noted that the camels dominated western North America but went extinct at the end of Pleistocene period- approximately ten thousand years ago. According to anatomical form, camelops had a close association with the Bactrian and the old World Dromedary camel. Remarkably, presently historians link camels with the African and Asian deserts, though; Ilamas and camels that form the family of Camelidae originated from North America. According to the museum records that I read, camels appeared about forty-four million years ago in the mid Eocene era (Winner, 2008). I established from the records that the scientists discovered a skull of camelops above the Glenns Ferry Formation in Tauna gravels- a dense layer of course gravel. Moreover, I identified from the records that camels underwent rapid evolutionary transformation in the late Oligocene and early Miocene periods. The change led to the development of numerous varieties of camels that range from giraffe-like and gazelle-like camels among other kinds of camels. I perused several books in the La Brea Tar Museum whereby, I read that camelops dominated North America before their extinction about eleven thousand years ago. Research experts presume that human activities such as hunting and settlement triggered the extinction of camelops. During the museum tour, I read about the discovery of extinct camel remain by the Canadian Museum of Nature. The museum spearheaded a research that proved the fossil had similar features as the early camels that inhabited North America. The scientists collected the fossils of the High Arctic camel between 2006 and 2010. They suggested that the fossils were three and half million years old that dates back to mid-Pliocene Epoch.

Figure 3: Extinct Camels

5.0 Dinosaurs

Agreeably, I acquired valuable knowledge concerning dinosaurs after the La Brea Tar Museum tour. I had an opportunity to inspect the fossils of dinosaurs and read about their evolution. It came into my knowledge that dinosaurs evolved from the other reptiles in the Triassic era. The evolution took place soon after the Permian extinction- the most intensive mass extinction in the history of the earth. After reading the museum documents, I recognized that mammals evolved at the same time- the Triassic era. According to the museum historical materials, Thecodonts that resemble crocodiles are the ancestors of dinosaurs. I am now familiar with the fact that some dinosaurs exist in the modern world. Besides this, I am aware of the unique features that identify dinosaurs as well as their relatives. It was only after the visit to the museum when I learnt that the earliest-known dinosaur was the Eoraptor until the scientist made recent discoveries regarding dinosaurs (Brusatte, 2012). Based on outcome of the Eoraptor’s fossil, the dinosaur existed around two hundred and twenty-eight years ago. The La Brea Tar Museum records stated that the dinosaur was a small-sized primitive theropod. The animals lived in the geographical region presently known as Argentina in South America. Notably, scientists discovered the fossils of the dinosaurs at Ischigualasto Formation. Experts claim that the Thecodonts were the ancestors of pterosaurs, birds and crocodilians. The animals were meat-eaters that had long jaws and an elongated tail.

Figure 4: Dinosaurs

6.0 Ancient Carnivores

I would relish lifetime memories concerning visit at the La Brea Tar Museum, as it was an excellent opportunity to learn about the ancient carnivores. I understand that the carnivores such as big cats and bears share a common ancestry. Recent discoveries have brought into limelight a better understanding concerning the physical appearance of the ancestor, its probable behaviour and its way of survival. The ancient mammalian carnivores trace their ancestry to a creature that lived during the early Eocene period, approximately fifty-five million years ago. The discovery of fossils in Belgium has offered researchers a fresh insight in establish the ancestor of the early carnivores (Peet, 2013). Once the scientists discovered the fossils of Dormaalocyon latouri, they could analyse the physical attributes of the animal based on more than two hundred and fifty teeth as well the bones suited in the ankle. According to information I obtain from the La Brea Tar Museum, Dormaalocyon existed after the end of the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal maximum (PETM). The rise of global temperatures by 11F at the time caused extensive transformations in biodiversity marked the period. The researchers perceive that numerous mammalian carnivores existed at the time Dormaalocyon thrived during the early Eocene; therefore, the ancestor of the animal might have lived during the Palaeocene era. I agree that the scientist can now attempt to discover the predecessor of Dormaalocyon that may help in establish the initial emergency of ancient carnivores.

Figure 5: Early Carnivores


Agustí, J., & Antón, M. (2002). Mammoths, sabertooths, and hominids: 65 million years of mammalian evolution in Europe. New York: Columbia University Press.

Brusatte, S. (2012). Dinosaur paleobiology. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Haynes, G. (2009). American megafaunal extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene. Dordrecht: Springer.

Peet, P. (2013). Disinformation guide to ancient aliens, lost civilizations, astonishing archaeology & hidden history: San Francisco.

Winner, C. (2008). Camels. Minneapolis: Lerner.

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