The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, part of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, has launched a new community science initiative titled “Sedimental Values: Digging in to La Brea’s Past.” The program is a collaboration with the University of Michigan and Zooniverse to digitize 40 years of fossil field data from Pit 91. Named for being the 91st hole dug by early paleontologists, Pit 91 is an active fossil site at the La Brea Tar Pits that holds thousands of specimens of extinct plants and animals in asphalt.
With the help of interested volunteers, “Sedimental Values” will capture 40 years of fossil field data from Pit 91 through the transcription of notes from the past, museum officials said.
“This project makes a unique dataset available, which will allow collections staff to plan for future curatorial work – and analyze the way that the fossil deposits formed,” said Regan Dunn, assistant curator at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum.
The project will allow the curators, researchers and students to ask new, better-informed research questions about paleoecology in Southern California.
“We can’t wait to share the new knowledge we will uncover and to give more people an opportunity to find out what has been excavated, but left undiscovered in closed boxes for many decades,” said Aisling Farrell, collections manager at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum.
Anyone with a computer and web access can help with the digitization project hosted on Zooniverse, a free community science platform. Create an account and follow instructions on how to participate in the La Brea Tar Pits project by visiting zooniverse.org/projects/jmschell/sedimental-values-digging-in-to-la-breas-past.
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