Talking turkey with an expert

There is no shortage of turkeys in California -- have you been to the movies lately? -- but pinning one down is tough. Thankfully, the scientists at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (who are having a family fun day on Saturday) were able to land us an exclusive interview with an old bird. The Page’s education volunteer coordinator, Scott Dennis, helped us get the skinny:

Name, please? Californicus, but you can call me “Tom.”

For the record:

12:00 AM, Nov. 21, 2003 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 21, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Museum event -- An item in Thursday’s Calendar Weekend regarding Saturday’s “Turkey Day at the Page Museum” incorrectly stated that the family event was free. Admission to the museum is required; the cost is $9 for adults, $6.50 for children.

Forgive me for saying so, Tom, but you look a little rough around the edges. Waddya expect? I’ve been extinct for at least 8,000 years. And all that time, these bones have been soaking up asphalt from the tar pits. In my day, though, I’d be packin’ about 20 pounds. All muscle, too -- not like those fatties you see today.

This must have been a tough neighborhood in the Pleistocene Era. Depends on how many saber-tooth cats were hangin’ around. I barely made it to my fifth birthday. A lot of my siblings ended up as raccoon bait while they were still in the egg. Some weren’t so nimble around that sticky tar.


You’re obviously as lucky as you are savvy. As lucky as anybody who chowed down on berries and nuts his whole life. Man, it was a holiday when I could get my beak around a lizard or a frog.

So are you related to the poor fella that’s going to end up on my platter this Thanksgiving? Hard to say -- I’m not sure what happened after the Ice Age. But these scientists are looking into that. You should check out what they have to say. And ask to hear their turkey calls -- these guys are a hoot.


“Turkey Day at the Page Museum,” 5801 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free, but a donation of canned goods for the L.A. Regional Food Bank is requested. Info: (213) 763-DINO or