During the last ice age, vast sheets of ice extended well beyond the polar regions. By about 12,000 years ago, the ice sheets had significantly shrunk—and so had the Northern Hemisphere’s variety of large mammals. In North America, about five dozen kinds of mammals, big and small, went extinct as the ice slowly retreated.
The causes of the extinctions are still under debate. Perhaps many species could not cope with the changes to their environment. Widespread disease or a meteorite impact may have occurred. A more likely influence, however, is a predator who had arrived in North America just before the extinctions happened—humans.
Species in this diorama include the sabertooth cat, Columbian mammoth, California condor, horse, and lion.