Evolution Trivia Quiz

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5. Sticky situation

The La Brea Tar Pits at Hancock Park in Los Angeles is a site where petroleum seeps out of the earth to form tar pools. In ancient times, many animals wandered into the tar unawares and were trapped and died, only to be preserved by the tar in conveniently good condition for study by scientists of the modern era. Which of the following spectacular fossils is common at La Brea?

A) Archeopteryx, one of the first birds
B) Deinonychus, a fast-moving carnivorous dinosaur
C) Glyptodon, a car-sized armadillo
D) Smilodon, the sabre-toothed cat

Your answer — A) Archeopteryx, one of the first birds — was incorrect.

The La Brea fossils were formed at the end of the last ice age, and are from ten thousand to several tens of thousands of years old. That rules out archeopteryx and deinonychus, Mesozoic animals that have been extinct for many millions of years. Glyptodon was a contemporary of the La Brea animals, but lived in South America. Hundreds of smilodon fossils have been excavated at La Brea. Little is known of smilodon apart from its anatomy. Like many other large animals in the Americas, it lapsed into extinction some ten thousand years ago.

Click “Question 6” below to continue the quiz.

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