2024 February 15 Meeting – Plant Stories Trapped in Tar


Plant Stories Trapped in Tar
Paleobotany at the La Brea Tar Pits
Explore the ancient ecosystems of the LA Basin
with Jessie George


February 15, 2024 (Thursday) Public Meeting
Meeting Begins 7:30 PM (speaker pre chat at 7:10)
Join us via Zoom – Register Here



The La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles are world famous for their preservation of Ice-Age mammals, especially the iconic, extinct megafauna such as saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, mammoths, and mastodons.

What is less known, is that the unique asphaltic preservation of past life at La Brea includes much more than mammals, but entire ecosystems of Los Angeles basin from the Late Pleistocene through the Holocene spanning the last ~57,000 years. While much attention has been given to the fauna, relatively little is known about plant life during this time. Fossil plants preserved at the La Brea Tar Pits include seeds, wood, leaves, needles, cones, pollen and phytoliths.

We will detail how these ancient floras reveal a rich history of climatic and environmental change in Los Angeles and Southern California over the last several millennia leading to the formation of today’s ecosystems.


Jessie George

Join scientist, Jessie George, a postdoctoral researcher at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. She recently received her PhD from the Department of Geography at UCLA and has an MSc in Environmental Archaeology from University College London. Her research interests and work in biogeography, paleobotany, and archaeology are focused on the interactions of plant life, climate, and fauna (including humans) across time. She has conducted field work and research in sites across Western North American and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Her current research includes reconstructing vegetation in change in Los Angeles across the last 55 ka with asphalt preserved plant macro-fossils and exploring the possible uses for Los Angeles’ wealth of paleo-data in conservation of the urban environment.