Los Angeles Underwater, with Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe

The NHM Curiosity Show takes another look at Los Angeles – 15 million years in the past, all the way back to the Miocene. Back then Los Angeles was underwater, and in this episode, we visit the museum’s Age of Mammals exhibit and meet the marine mammals of prehistoric Southern California. Our curator of marine mammals, Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe, tells us how they ate, swam, and fought in the waters over what would become Los Angeles.

The Mammalogy collections include more than 98,000 terrestrial and marine mammal specimens prepared as study skins, skulls, skeletons, tanned pelts, and fluid preserved bodies. Ancillary collections such as frozen tissues, bacula, and parasites are also maintained. Every taxonomic order of Mammalia and most families are represented in the collections.

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Ph.D., Assistant Curator of Marine Mammals As a paleobiologist, my main research interest is the morphology, systematics, and biology of fossil and extant marine mammals. Specifically, I wish to understand the dynamics of ancient communities, so I am interested in integrating datasets from living organisms, as well as other groups of fossils. My research program uses both existing museum collections as well as national and international fieldwork expeditions to collect new material.