La Brea Tar Pits: Peril and Promise – Dr. Emily Lindsey

Jun 3, 2022 | aging, books, culture, Health, politics, seniors, technology

The Not Old Better Show, Inside Science Interview Series

Welcome to The Not Old Better Show, Smithsonian Associates Interview Series on radio and podcast. Today’s episode is part of our Inside Science series.

Our guest today is Smithsonian Associate, Dr. Emily Lindsey., from the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles.  Dr. Lindsey will be presenting at the Smithsonian Associates program coming up, and the title of  Dr. Lindsey’s presentation is La Brea Tar Pits: Peril and Promise.  Dr. Lindsey is the Assistant Curator and Excavation Site Director, Rancho La Brea, and her research integrates information from past and modern ecosystems to understand how Ice Age animals and environments functioned, how climate conditions and human actions intersect to drive extinctions and to predict future ecological responses in the face of modern global change. No other paleontological site in the world has as great a potential to answer these questions as La Brea Tar Pits.

In the heart of the third-largest city in North America, geologic processes have conspired to create the richest Ice Age fossil site on Earth. For more than 50,000 years, underground crude oil has seeped to the surface, trapping plants and animals in the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Over the past century, their remains have helped scientists paint a picture of the Ice Age, a time when saber-toothed cats, mammoths, camels, dire wolves, and giant ground sloths roamed across North America in ecosystems as biodiverse as the modern African savanna.

Dr. Lindsey and I will discuss what happened to this lost world, and what does it mean for our planet today? Dr. Emily Lindsey will lead us today on a virtual tour of the La Brea Tar Pits that covers 20-million-years, from the ancient seabed to LA’s modern car culture. We will learn about the history of Los Angeles, which is inextricably intertwined with oil, which literally fueled the city’s economic and geographic expansion. Today, the rich fossil treasure troves preserved in petroleum are being used not just to reveal the past, but to help plan for a climate-resilient future in one of the continent’s most populous and biodiverse regions.

La Brea Tar Pits is the best and most complete record of life during the Ice Age, a living laboratory for scientists and the global community to engage in and learn from groundbreaking research, and discover plants and animals trapped in the tar pits over the last 50,000 years. 

Please join me in welcoming to The Not Old Better Show, Smithsonian Associates Inside Science Interview Series on radio and podcast, Smithsonian Associate, Dr. Emily Lindsey.

Please click here for more information on the La Brea Tar Pits program from Smithsonian Associates: