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Los Angeles marks century of finds from La Brea tar pits

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Los Angeles is celebrating a century of scientific discoveries from the La Brea tar pits, which have yielded remains of extinct animals from ants to mastodons.

The George C. Page Museum, which houses finds from the pits in a building next door, marked the centenary Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The pits are much older. But it was in 1913 that George Allan Hancock, who owned Rancho La Brea, gave Los Angeles County the right to explore the pits for two years.

In 1924, Hancock donated 23 acres of the ranch which became Hancock Park. The museum, a division of Los Angeles' Natural History Museum, was built there in the 1970s.

Luis Chiappe, a vice president at the Natural History Museum, told the Times the emphasis in recent years has been on micro-fossils, objects like insect wings that can tell a lot about the environment in the area thousands of years ago. He described them as "tiny bits and pieces" that are now "the coolest things on the planet."

But the pits continue to yield macro-fossils as well. In 2006, excavation of a parking garage for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is also in the park, yielded numerous fossil deposits, including a sabre-toothed tiger, six dire wolves, mastodons and an almost-complete mammoth that was nicknamed Zed.

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