Figure 1. Rancho La Brea fossil pits exposed along Wilshire Boulevard about the turn of the 20th century. The asphalt was mined from the Quaternary pits in the alluvium, and wells pumped oil from the underlying Pliocene marine rocks. The fossils were thought to be the remains of old cows and other animals that roamed the area then. Later their importance was recognized, and the earliest systematic excavations were carried out in the early 1900s by teams of students and paleontologists from the University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology under the direction of Professor John Merriam and Dr. Loye Holmes Miller. Rancho La Brea is one of the most abundant and diverse fossil deposits anywhere in the world.