Main Menu   Sites

Rancho La Brea

California: Los Angeles County

rule

Location of Rancho la Brea

Age. Mid and Late Wisconsin (Holocene material also has been recovered, but is not addressed here). O'Keefe et al. (2009) assembled 209 radiocarbon dates from the various pits and discussed these at length. Dates range from the present to more than 50,000 years.

General Description (Stock and Harris 1992). Rancho la Brea is located within the city of Los Angeles. Hydrocarbons from pre-Pleistocene sediments rose into the Pleistocene sediments, forming pools of asphalt as the more volatile elements evaporated. Pools of viscus liquid asphalt formed natural traps. The large number of carnivores represented in the fossil deposits suggest that trapped animals attracted predators and scavengers that, in turn, also became trapped. As of 1992, more than 2,000,000 bones, along with numerous remains of insect, mollusks, and plants, have been recovered. Excavations continue to the present.

Woodard and Marcus (1973) note that asphaltic activity was sporadic within pits rather than continuous. They also stressed that fluvial sedimentation was ongoing during the time span involved and played a part in movement and concentration of bones.

Fauna.

Osteichthyes

Oncorhynchus mykiss—Rainbow Trout (Swift 1989)
Gila orcutti—Arroyo Chub (Swift 1989)
Gasterosteus aculeatus—Three-spined Stickleback (Swift 1989)

Amphibia

Aneides lugubris—Arboreal Salamander (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anaxyrus boreas—Western Toad (Brattstrom 1953; Tihen 1962)

Camp (1917) described a new fossil species, Bufo nestor, from Rancho la Brea. Tihen (1962) considered this to be a synonym of Bufo boreas. The genus Bufo has since been restricted to the eastern hemisphere (Frost et al. 2006), with the next available name being Anaxyrus.

Anaxyrus microscaphus—Arizona Toad (Stock and Harris 1992)

Bufo microscaphus

Hyla sp.—Treefrogs (Brattstrom 1953)
Rana aurora—Northern Red-legged Frog (Brattstrom 1953)

Chelonia

Actinemys pallida—Southern Western Pond Turtle (Brattstrom 1953)

Clemmys marmorata

Hesperotestudo sp.—Hesperotestudo Tortoises (Jefferson 2014: cf.)

Geochelone ?

Reptilia

Although the list of lizards given below follows the earlier literature, Bell and Dundas (1993) are skeptical at the identification levels given. They specifically clump the phrynosomatid taxa as "Sceloporine, gen. and sp. indet.", the teiid taxon (Aspidoscelis tigris in the list below) as only identifiable at the generic level (and that based in part on geography), and the skink to genus only.

Elgaria multicarinatus—Southern Alligator Lizard (Brattstrom 1953)

Gerrhonotus multicarinatus

Anniella sp.—North American Legless Lizards (Jefferson 2014)
Phrynosoma blainvillii—Blainville's Horned Lizard (Brattstrom 1953)

Phrynosoma coronatum

Sceloporus magister—Desert Spiny Lizard (Brattstrom 1953)
Sceloporus occidentalis—Western Fence Lizard(Brattstrom 1953)
Uta stansburiana—Side-blotched Lizard (Brattstrom 1953)
Plestiodon skiltonianus—Western Skink (Brattstrom 1953)

Eumeces

Aspidoscelis tigris—Western Whiptail(Brattstrom 1953)

Cnemidophorus tigris

Xantusia vigilis—Desert Night Lizard (Brattstrom 1953) Disallowed

Heche (1956) noted that no species of the genus Xantusia had the tooth characteristics described by Brattstrom and that the specimen turns out to belong to a different family.

Arizona elegans—Glossy Snake (LaDuke 1991)
Coluber constrictor—Eastern Racer (LaDuke 1991)
Lampropeltis getula—Common Kingsnake (LaDuke 1991)

Lampropeltis getulus

Masticophis lateralis—Striped Racer (LaDuke 1991)
Pituophis catenifer—Gophersnake (LaDuke 1991)

Pituophis melanoleucus

Rhinocheilus lecontei—Long-nosed Snake (LaDuke 1991)
Tantilla sp.—Black-headed Snakes (LaDuke 1991)[pit 91]
Crotalus oreganus—Western Rattlesnake (LaDuke 1991)
Diadophis punctatus—Ring-necked Snake (LaDuke 1991)
Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha—Coast Nightsnake (LaDuke 1991)

Hypsiglena torquata of LaDuke (1991). Mulcahy (2008) split H. torquata into several species, including H. ochrorhyncha, indicated as occurring currently in southwestern California. This taxonomy is not recognized by all. The assumption here is that the fossil form is the same as that now in the region.

Thamnophis couchii complex—Sierra Gartersnake complex (LaDuke 1991)
Thamnophis sirtalis—Common Gartersnake (LaDuke 1991)

Aves

Anabernicula gracilenta—Graceful Pygmy Goose (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anas clypeata—Northern Shoveler (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anas crecca—Green-winged Teal (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anas cyanoptera—Cinnamon Teal (Stock and Harris 1992: ?)
Anas platyrhynchos—Mallard (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anas strepera—Gadwall (Stock and Harris 1992)
Anser albifrons—Greater White-fronted Goose (Stock and Harris 1992)
Aythya valisineria—Canvasback (Stock and Harris 1992)
Branta bernicla—Brant (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Branta canadensis—Canada Goose (Stock and Harris 1992)
Chen caerulescens—Snow Goose (Stock and Harris 1992)
Chen rossii—Ross's Goose (Stock and Harris 1992)
Cygnus columbianus—(Tundra Swan) (Stock and Harris 1992)
Callipepla californica—California Quail (Stock and Harris 1992)
Meleagris californica—California Turkey (Bocheński and Campbell 2006)
Podiceps sp.—Grebes (Stock and Harris 1992)
Podilymbus podiceps—Pied-billed Grebe (Stock and Harris 1992)
Ciconia maltha—La Brea Stork (Stock and Harris 1992)
Mycteria wetmorei—Wetmore's Wood Stork (Stock and Harris 1992)
Phalacrocorax sp.—Cormorants (Stock and Harris 1992)
Ardea alba—Great Egret (Stock and Harris 1992)

Casmarodius albus

Ardea herodias—Great Blue Heron (Stock and Harris 1992)
Botaurus lentiginosus—American Bittern (Stock and Harris 1992)
Butorides striata—Striated Heron (Stock and Harris 1992)
Egretta caerulea—Little Blue Heron (Stock and Harris 1992)
Egretta thula—Snowy Egret (Stock and Harris 1992)
Nycticorax nycticorax—Black-crowned Night-Heron (Stock and Harris 1992)
Platalea ajaja—Roseate Spoonbill (Stock and Harris 1992)
Plegadis chihi—White-faced Ibis (Stock and Harris 1992)

Ajaia ajaja

Cathartornis gracilis—Slender Teratorn (Stock and Harris 1992)
Teratornis merriami—Merriam's Teratorn (L. Miller 1909)
Breagyps clarki—Clark's Condor (Stock and Harris 1992)
Coragyps occidentalis—Western Black Vulture (Stock and Harris 1992)
Cathartes aura—Turkey Vulture (Stock and Harris 1992)
Gymnogyps californianus—California Condor (Stock and Harris 1992)

Gymnogyps amplus (see G. californianus for usage)

Accipiter gentilis—Northern Goshawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
A. striatus—Sharp-shinned Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
A. cooperii—Cooper's Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Aquila chrysaetos—Golden Eagle (Stock and Harris 1992)
Amplibuteo woodwardi— (Stock and Harris 1992)
Buteo jamaicensis—Red-tailed Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Buteo lagopus—Rough-legged Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Buteo regalis—Ferruginous Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Buteo swainsoni—Swainson's Hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Buteogallus daggetti—Daggett's Eagle (Stock and Harris 1992)

Wetmoregyps daggetti

Buteogallus fragilis—Fragile Black-hawk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Circus cyaneus—Northern Harrier, (Stock and Harris 1992)
Elanus caeruleus—Black-winged Kite (Stock and Harris 1992)
Haliaeetus leucocephalus—Bald Eagle (Stock and Harris 1992)
Neogyps errans—Errant Eagle (Stock and Harris 1992)
Neophrontops americanus—American Neophrontops (Stock and Harris 1992)
Spizaetus grinnelli—Grinnell's Hawk-eagle (Stock and Harris 1992)
Grus americana—Whooping Crane (Stock and Harris 1992)
Grus canadensis—Sandhill Crane (Stock and Harris 1992)
Grus pagei—Page's Crane (Campbell 1995)
Fulica americana—American Coot (Stock and Harris 1992)
Recurvirostra americana—American Avocet (Stock and Harris 1992)
Charadrius semipalmatus—Semipalmated Plover (Stock and Harris 1992)

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

Charadrius vociferus—Killdeer (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pluvialis squatarola—Black-bellied Plover (Stock and Harris 1992)
Calidris alba—Sanderling (Stock and Harris 1992)
Calidris alpina—Dunlin (Stock and Harris 1992)
Tringa melanoleuca— Greater Yellowlegs (Stock and Harris 1992)
Numenius americanus—Long-billed Curlew (Stock and Harris 1992)
Numenius phaeopus—Whimbrel (Stock and Harris 1992)
Gallinago delicata—Wilson's Snipe (Stock and Harris 1992)

Gallinago gallinago delicata

Limnodromus griseus—Short-billed Dowitcher (Stock and Harris 1992)
Limosa fedoa—Marbled Godwit (Stock and Harris 1992)
Phalaropus fulicarius—Red Phalarope (Stock and Harris 1992)
Ectopistes migratorius—Passenger Pigeon (Stock and Harris 1992)
Patagioenas fasciata—Band-tailed Pigeon (Stock and Harris 1992)

Columba fasciata

Zenaida macroura—Mourning Dove (Stock and Harris 1992)
Geococcyx californianus—Greater Roadrunner (Stock and Harris 1992)
Tyto alba—Barn Owl (Stock and Harris 1992)
Asio flammeus—Short-eared Owl (Stock and Harris 1992)
Asphaltoglaux cecileae—Asphalt Miniature Owl (Campbell and Bocheński 2013)

Earlier identifications as Aegolius acadicus (e.g., Stock and Harris 1992) apply to Asphaltoglaux.

Athene cunicularia—(Burrowing Owl (Stock and Harris 1992)
Bubo virginianus—Great Horned Owl (Stock and Harris 1992)
Glaucidium kurochkini—Kurochkin's Pygmy Owl (Campbell and Bocheński 2013)

Specimens earlier referred to Glaucidium gnoma have been reidentified as the present species.

Megascops asio—Eastern Screech-Owl (Stock and Harris 1992)

Otus asio

Oraristrix brea—Tar-pit Owl (Campbell and Bocheński 2010)
Phalaenoptilus nuttallii—Common Poorwill (Stock and Harris 1992)
Colaptes auratus—Northern Flicker (Stock and Harris 1992)

Colaptes auratus cafer

Dryocopus pileatus—Pileated Woodpecker (Stock and Harris 1992)
Melanerpes lewisi—(Lewis's Woodpecker (Stock and Harris 1992)
Picoides sp.—Picoides Woodpeckers (Stock and Harris 1992)
Sphyrapicus sp.—Sapsuckers (Stock and Harris 1992)
Caracara cheriway—Crested Caracara (Stock and Harris 1992)

Polyborus plancus

Falco columbarius—Merlin (Stock and Harris 1992)
Falco mexicanus—Prairie Falcon (Stock and Harris 1992)
Falco peregrinus—Peregrine Falcon (Stock and Harris 1992)
Falco sparverius—American Kestrel (Stock and Harris 1992)
Tyrannus vociferans—Cassin's Kingbird (Stock and Harris 1992)
Lanius ludovicianus—Loggerhead Shrike (Stock and Harris 1992)
Aphelocoma californica—Western Scrub-Jay (Stock and Harris 1992)

Aphelocoma coerulescens, Aphelocoma coerulescens californica

Corvus brachyrhynchos—American Crow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Corvus caurinus—Northwestern Crow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Corvus corax—Common Raven (Stock and Harris 1992)
Corvus cryptoleucus—Chihuahuan Raven (Stock and Harris 1992)
Cyanocitta stelleri—Steller's Jay (Stock and Harris 1992)
Nucifraga columbiana—Clark's Nutcracker (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pica nuttalli—Yellow-billed Magpie (Stock and Harris 1992)
Ermophila alpestris—Horned Lark (Stock and Harris 1992)
Poecile gambeli—Mountain Chickadee (Stock and Harris 1992)

Parus sp. cf. P. gambeli

Sialia mexicana—Western Bluebird (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Turdus migratorius—American Robin (Stock and Harris 1992)
Oreoscoptes montanus—Sage Thrasher (Stock and Harris 1992)
Toxostoma redivivum—California Thrasher (Stock and Harris 1992)
Bombycilla cedrorum—Cedar Waxwing (Stock and Harris 1992)
Amphispiza bilineata—Black-throated Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Artemisiospiza belli/nevadensis—Bell's Sparrow or Sagebrush Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)

Amphispiza belli

Chondestes grammacus—Lark Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Melospiza melodia—Song Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Melozone fuscus—Canyon Towhee (Stock and Harris 1992)

Pipilo fuscus

Passerella iliaca—Fox Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pipilo maculatus—Spotted Towhee (Stock and Harris 1992)

Pipilo erythrophthalmus; P. erythrophthalmus has been split into eastern and western species. Presumably the Rancho La Brea species is P. maculatus.

Pipilo angelensis—Los Angeles Towhee (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pooecetes gramineus—Vesper Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Spizella passerina—Chipping Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Spizella sp.—Spizella Sparrows (Stock and Harris 1992)
Zonotrichia leucophrys—White-crowned Sparrow (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pheucticus melanocephalus—Black-headed Grosbeak (Stock and Harris 1992)
Agelaius phoeniceus—Red-winged Blackbird (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Euphagus magnirostris— (Stock and Harris 1992)
Icterus spp.—Blackbirds (Stock and Harris 1992)
Molothrus ater—Brown-headed Cowbird (Stock and Harris 1992)
Pandanaris convexa— (Stock and Harris 1992)
Sturnella neglecta—Western Meadowlark (Stock and Harris 1992)
Xanthocephalus sp.—Yellow-headed Blackbirds (Stock and Harris 1992)
Coccothraustes vespertinus—Evening Grosbeak (Stock and Harris 1992)
Spinus pinus—Pine Siskin (Stock and Harris 1992)

Carduelis pinus

Spinus tristis—American Goldfinch (Stock and Harris 1992)

Carduelis tristis

Mammalia

Mammuthus columbi—Columbian Mammoth (Stock and Harris 1992)
Mammut americanum—American Mastodont (Stock and Harris 1992)
Megalonyx jeffersonii—Jefferson's Ground Sloth (Stock and Harris 1992)
Nothrotheriops shastensis—Shasta Ground Sloth (Stock and Harris 1992)
Paramylodon harlani—Harlan's Ground Sloth (Stock and Harris 1992)

Glossotherium harlani

Otospermophilus beecheyi—California Ground Squirrel (Stock and Harris 1992)

Spermophilus (Otospermophilus) beecheyi

Tamias merriami—Merriam's Chipmunk (Whistler 1989: cf.)
Dipodomys agilis—Agile Kangaroo Rat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Chaetodipus californicus—California Pocket Mouse

Perognathus californicus

Thomomys bottae—Botta's Pocket Gopher (Stock and Harris 1992)
Microtus californicus—California Vole (Stock and Harris 1992)
Neotoma fuscipes—Dusky-footed Woodrat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Onychomys torridus—Desert Grasshopper Mouse (Stock and Harris 1992)
†Peromyscus imperfectus—Imperfect Mouse (Dice 1925)
Reithrodontomys megalotis—Western Harvest Mouse (Stock and Harris 1992)
Lepus californicus—Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Stock and Harris 1992)
Sylvilagus audubonii—Desert Cottontail (Stock and Harris 1992)
Sylvilagus bachmani—Brush Rabbit (Stock and Harris 1992)
Sorex ornatus—Ornate Shrew (Stock and Harris 1992)
Notiosorex crawfordi—Desert Shrew (Stock and Harris 1992)
Scapanus latimanus—Broad-footed Mole (Akersten et al. 1979)[Pit 91] (Stock and Harris 1992)
Antrozous pallidus—Pallid Bat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Lasiurus cinereus—Hoary Bat (Akersten et al. 1979)[Pit 91] (Stock and Harris 1992)
Felis sp. (small)—Small Cat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Homotherium serum—Scimitar Cat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Panthera atrox—American Lion (Stock and Harris 1992)
Panthera onca—Jaguar (Stock and Harris 1992)

Puma concolor—Mountain Lion (Stock and Harris 1992)

Felis concolor

Lynx rufus—Bobcat (Stock and Harris 1992)
Smilodon fatalis—Sabertooth

Also listed: Smilodon fatalis brevipes

Canis dirus—Dire Wolf (Stock and Harris 1992)
Canis familiaris—Domestic Dog (Stock and Harris 1992)

It's assumed here that this record is Holocene and is not treated further.

Canis latrans—Coyote (Stock and Harris 1992)
Canis lupus—Gray Wolf (Stock and Harris 1992)
Urocyon cinereoargenteus—Gray Fox (Stock and Harris 1992)
Arctodus simus—Giant Short-faced Bear (Stock and Harris 1992)
Ursus americanus—American Black Bear (Stock and Harris 1992)
Mustela frenata—Long-tailed Weasel (Stock and Harris 1992)
Taxidea taxus—American Badger (Stock and Harris 1992)
Mephitis mephitis—Striped Skunk (Stock and Harris 1992)
Spilogale gracilis—Western Spotted Skunk (Stock and Harris 1992)

Spilogale putorius

Bassariscus astutus—Ringtail (Akersten et al. 1979)[Pit A] (Stock and Harris 1992)
Procyon lotor—Raccoon (Akersten et al. 1979)[Pit 91] (Stock and Harris 1992)
Equus conversidens—Mexican Horse (Stock and Harris 1992)
Equus occidentalis—Western Horse (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Tapirus californicus—California Tapir (Stock and Harris 1992)
Platygonus compressus—Flat-headed Peccary (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Camelops hesternus—Yesterday's Camel (Stock and Harris 1992)
Hemiauchenia macrocephala—Big-headed Llama (Stock and Harris 1992)
Odocoileus hemionus—Mule Deer (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)
Antilocapra americana—Pronghorn (Stock and Harris 1992)
Capromeryx furcifer—Matthew's Pronghorn

Capromeryx minor

Bison antiquus—Ancient Bison (Stock and Harris 1992)
Bison latifrons—Giant Bison (Stock and Harris 1992)
Euceratherium collinum—Brush Ox (Stock and Harris 1992: cf.)

Literature Akersten et al. 1979; Bell and Dundas 1993; Bocheński and Campbell 2006; Brattstrom 1953;Camp 1917; Campbell 1995; Campbell and Bocheński 2010; Campbell and Bocheński 2013; Hecht 1956; Howard 1933; Jefferson 2014; LaDuke 1991; L. Miller 1909; Mulcahy 2008; O'Keefee et al. 2009; Stock and Harris 1992; Swift 1989; Tihen 1962; Whistler 1989; Woodard and Marcus 1973.

rule

Last Update: 18 Jan 2016