Rock Art Reveals Elk May Have Roamed Los Angeles


What if Los Angeles’ largest native herbivore already went extinct and we had no idea?

What if long-dead native people were the ones who could set the record straight?

Last year I was in the field researching California’s native Chumash culture and rock art through the help of a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. Not far from Los Angeles, nestled high in the mountains within large boulders and surrounded by old oaks, I came upon a rock art site that left me with more questions than answers. Amid the images of stick-like humans, one figure stood out, bigger than the others and with hooves and broad antlers. It looked like an elk, but according to California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, elk never lived here.

Setting the Ancient Scene

Five hundred years ago, Los Angeles was a far different place than we know it today. It was already densely populated, but by numerous indigenous peoples. The Tongva, Chumash, Fernandeño, Tataviam, and Serrano called the Los Angeles area home for thousands of years, each having their own territories in what is today the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. Imagine a Los Angeles without freeways or urban sprawl. The climate was —> Read More Here


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