Extinct carnivore once roamed Taft area. Skeleton is on loan from Los Angles Natural History Museum
The cat is in the house.
The skeleton of a saber-toothed cat like ones that roamed the Westside area millions of years ago has found a resting place in the West Kern Oil Museum.
Reassembled 15 years ago, the skeleton – with its signature fang-like canine teeth – had been on display for seven or eight years at the Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, “greeting our friends from overseas,” said Christopher Shaw, who, with fellow curatorial assistant Aisling B. Farrell, brought the specimen to Taft Wednesday from the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
“I think this is a very, very important part of our history,” said Agnes Hardt, director of the oil museum’s all-volunteer staff. “There were saber-toothed cats here. A lot of people don’t know that. I know we are getting ready to celebrate Taft’s 100th birthday, but our history goes way back before that.”
The museum is sprucing up for next month’s Oildorado Days celebration by refurbishing its Yokuts Indian exhibit and creating a special display that showcases past Oildorado events.
Volunteers also are getting antique vehicles – including the fire truck – ready for the Oildorado parade.
The museum also will hold barbecues on both Saturdays during the 10-day celebration and register old timers.
The saber-toothed cat, which is on display in the main museum building, will be the centerpiece of West Kern’s Oildorado Days fanfare.
Saber-toothed cats are some of the best known and most popular of all Ice Age animals. They were among the most impressive carnivores ever to have lived.
Shaw said the cat is the official vertebrate fossil of California.
The saber-toothed cat became extinct approximately 11,500 years ago.
The oil museum’s cat will be encased in glass, said Don Maxwell, who recently retired as director of maintenance and operations at the Taft City School District. He has become one of the newest museum volunteers and will take over Hardt’s duties when she retires following the Oildorado celebration.
“This cat’s a real beauty, and we want to make sure it’s protected,” he said.
The cat is on loan from the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.