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Project Paleo

Do you want to be a paleontologist? Do you want to be a curator of natural history collections? Project Paleo is your opportunity to  work with fossils and contribute to the curation of Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County's collections.

Learn how to become involved in two of our projects.

La Brea Webs

#LaBreaWebs is an NSF-funded project to build food webs for the mammal and plant components of the ecosystems around Los Angeles 40,000 years ago. Once we describe the food web, we are interested in understanding whether the webs help predict which species went extinct versus persisted through time.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation award numbers EAR 1623840, 1623852, and 1623885. View the official project summary here.

How to Participate

If you are a teacher in Los Angeles, contact Libby Ellwood to learn how to get your students involved in our research.

Data (iNaturalist)
See some of the microfossils that have been posted to our page on the iNaturalist platform.

La Brea Tar Pits: A Mouse's Eye View

The Team

Jacquelyn Gill, University of Maine. Jacquelyn is a paleoecologist and biogeographer, interested in climate change, extinction, ice age megaherbivores, and plants. She is leading the plant portions of the project.
E-mail: jacquelyn.gill@maine.edu
Web: https://jacquelyngill.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @jacquelyngill

Jessica Blois, University of California, Merced. Jessica is a Quaternary paleoecologist and biogeographer interested in plants and animals. She is leading the mammal portions of the project.
E-mail: jblois@ucmerced.edu
Web: http://jessicablois.com
Twitter: @jessicablois

Justin Yeakel, University of California, Merced. Justin is an ecologist specializing in foraging theory and food webs. He is leading the development of species interaction models and food web analyses for the project.
E-mail: jyeakel@ucmerced.edu
Web: http://jdyeakel.github.io/
Twitter: @jdyeakel

Katherine Glover, University of Maine. Katherine has worked on reconstructions of past climate conditions and ecology in Southern California and the Midwest, using core samples from lake basins. Her role in the #labreawebs project is to simulate past climate and ecological conditions of the L.A. Basin, using fossil identification results and the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS.
E-mail: kcglover@ucla.edu
Twitter: @gloverkatherine

Emily Lindsey, La Brea Tar Pits. Emily is a paleoecologist interested in how lessons from changes in past ecosystems can help save species today. She is directing the fossil excavation and processing for this project at La Brea Tar Pits.

Libby Ellwood, La Brea Tar Pits. Libby is an ecologist whose research focuses on climate change, conservation, and citizen science. She is based at La Brea Tar Pits and is developing citizen science materials for the project.

follow Us

Follow our project on twitter using the #LaBreaWebs hashtag.

Invert Paleo

Project Paleo’s Marine Fossils of Southern California project is your opportunity to  work with fossils and contribute to the curation of the NHMLAC's Invertebrate Paleontology collections. These Project Paleo kits include unsorted fossils and rocks, identification guides, detailed instructions, tools, labels and bags. We encourage students to collect kits from the museum, sort fossils into taxonomic units, identify using accompanying resources, and returned sorted material to the NHM for accessioning into the museum’s research collection. This process will be supported by online instruction resources and sample exercises, social media-enabled interaction with museum staff, and teacher training workshops. This Project Paleo kit will enable students and family members to participate in authentic paleontology, learn about local geology and fossils, and engage in collections stewardship.
The Invertebrate Paleontology Collection of NHMLAC is one of the largest collections in the museums and one of the largest of its kind in North America, with an estimated 6-7 million specimens. We are responsible for curating fossils that record much of the history of life on Earth, and in particular the origins and development of Southern California. These include fossils of mollusks (snails, clams), arthropods (trilobites, crabs, insects), brachiopods, echinoderms, corals, and trace fossils (trackways).

How to Participate

Contact a member of our team to learn how to get involved in our research.


Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (@FossilsofLA) for updates on current happenings.