Monday, July 25, 2016

Entrapment

Today, I visited the la Brea tar pits. There is an observation pit there, that shows how animals got trapped in the grease pits. Ashpalt can be solid or liquid depending on the temperature. So, parts of an asphalt deposit could be solid and parts liquid or the same area could be solid in winter and liquid in summer.
A lot of leaves, water and multiple things on top of the ashpalt can make it look like a normal first floor, hence confusing animals that could wander into it.

A huge herbivore could have walked towards the pit and gotten stuck right in a pit. It's cries would have attracted carnivores. They predict around 10 carnivores for every single herbivore trapped. A few might have gotten a piece of the trapped animal, but quite a lot would have gotten stuck in the pit along with the prey. This is called entrapment.

Funny thing, this helped us get oil and we are now able to learn about the world all those thousands of years ago, from these fossil deposits of multiple animals trapped to a slow painful death.

A couple of things got me all fascinated.

First was how a few things  however miniscule survive across thousands of years and tell us about a world set so far away in time. Tiny fossils showcase, a whole forest floor and here I'm able to see it come alive across eons.

Second, the whole taking the easy way out thing. You go for something thinking it's easy. But, it's actually not all the time and there's so much more than meets the eye.

A few predators might have managed to make good and escape, but a majority were stuck in a situation where they got exactly what they wanted, but it was not what they thought it was. Haven't we faced that situation in life too? Nothing can ever truly be easy. It just comes with fine print we never notice.

2 comments:

Sun Ray said...

Glad to see you enjoying the trip. Interesting to learn about the pits. It is indeed funny, when you point out how an animal's death in such a cruel way is helping us learn about them. Why did the elephant-like-animals have such big tusks? Makes me even more curious about science. Watch a film named 'Lucy' on science fiction started by Scarlet Johansson, if you get time.

Harini Padmanabhan said...

The size of the mammoth with respect to the carnivores left me stunned. :)

About Lucy, i liked the movie quite a bit. Towards the climax it ended up becoming a little anti climatic, but otherwise it was quite good.