Researchers reported in a paper published Friday their discovery of the first coprolites, or fossil feces, found in an asphaltic environment.
Hundreds of fossilized rodent pellets were found at Los Angeles’ Rancho La Brea, better known as the La Brea Tar Pits, by researchers of the Tar Pits, the University of Oklahoma and the University of California Irvine, according to the new paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports.
While bones of larger extinct animals are often found in the tar pits, in which animals were trapped by natural asphalt, new excavation and chemical techniques allow insights from discovery of smaller fossils.
The exceptionally well-preserved rodent pellets were radiocarbon-dated and indicate they are at least 50,000 years old. They were found during an excavation for a parking garage for the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“It’s incredible that after more than a century of excavation and study, we are still unearthing new types of fossils from La Brea’s treasure trove of deposits,” said Emily Lindsey, the Tar Pits’ assistant curator. “These tiny finds may lead to big discoveries about the climate and ecosystems of Ice Age Los Angeles.”
The coprolites indicate what rodents ate, offering a picture of vegetation and climate conditions of the past.
The preservation of the unprecedented find is attributed to “an asphalt seep overtaking an existing rodent nest,” noted Karin Rice, preparator at La Brea Tar Pits.
Researchers used multiple lines of evidence, including radiocarbon dating, body size reconstructions, stable isotope analysis, scanning electron microscopy and sediment analyses to obtain a better understanding of California’s coastal environment during what is known as Marine Isotope Stage 3, or the Last Glacial Period, roughly encompassing 115,000 B.C. to 11,700 B.C.
Threat of Catastrophic Supervolcano Eruptions
EU lawmakers call for Lebanon sanctions if Mikati’s government fails
Mozart sonata helps reduce brain signals associated with epilepsy in small study
Derek Chauvin pleads not guilty to alleged civil rights violation
Police investigating deadly shooting at luxury hotel in downtown Vancouver
U.S7 days ago
U.S. Justice Dept. sues Texas over state’s new abortion law
U.S5 days ago
Biden, Obama, Clinton mark 9/11 in NYC with display of unity
Other6 days ago
Warming Climate: Animals ‘Shapeshifting’
Europe6 days ago
Austria: Man kept mother’s body in basement to draw pension
Entertainment7 days ago
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of young B.C. actor from ‘The Flash’
Australia & NZ6 days ago
Afghans evacuees begin life in Australia
U.S6 days ago
Report of gunshot triggered lockdown at Air Force base
North America7 days ago
Nova Scotia’s mass shooting inquiry has submitted subpoenas to the RCMP: spokeswoman