The scientific tourist #80 — cleaning Zed

A technician works on cleaning up part of Zed the columbian mammoth at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California:

Zed made a big splash in the news a few months back when his discovery was announced — bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the pits, but Zed’s the first nearly complete one, and he was found essentially next door. Still, it’s all the tiny fossils trapped along with Zed that likely will be of greater scientific interest — when the pits were first excavated, the smaller and less dramatic finds were thrown away in the haste to uncover “marquis” large animal fossils. Yet the tiny, often nearly microscopic fossils of plants and small animals yield much more information about the environmental history of the site.

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