Discovery of Bee Fossils in La Brea Tar Pits Offer New Information about Ice Age Climate

Discovery of Bee Fossils in La Brea Tar Pits Offer New Information about Ice Age

A paper published in journal Plos One has unveiled about a remarkable finding regarding bee fossils in the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in California. There are abundant ice age fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, located near Los Angeles.

Researchers found fossils of nests from a rare variety of leafcutter bee. The specie was found to be Megachile gentilis, which is still in existence today. Around 1,500 species of leafcutter bees in the world are present and a few of them in California.

One among them is Megachile gentilis, which is a fuzzy-white and black bee about half an inch long. Researchers examined two of the fossils through scanners capable of coming up with three dimensional computer models.

Researchers then assessed nests and also pupae present in the structure. Lead author Anna Holden of the Natural History Museum (NHM) said the finding also helped them know about climatic conditions in southern California that prevailed thousands of years ago.

Holden said they chose leafcutter fossils from la Brea for the study as, "these specimens frequently serve as the most valuable paleoenvironemental indicators due to their narrow climate restrictions and life cycles".

On the basis of modern leafcutter bees, researchers concluded that the area around Los Angeles would have been once warmer and wetter than the modern era. Megachile gentilis is still present, but it is found in higher, cooler elevations than on sea-level Los Angeles.

Researchers said there is no doubt that there is much more to learn from tar pits insects and other microfossils.


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