Latest Issue

Ice age politics

Why did the big mammals suddenly die out in America? Was it climate change or slaughter by native Americans? An event of more than 11,000 years ago is refracted through the lens of modern politics

By Matt Ridley   June 1996

Halfway along wilshire Boulevard, between Beverly Hills and the Wilshire country club, there is a tiny park called Hancock park with a little pond in it. The pond looks quaint enough, until you notice the sheen on the surface and the viscous bubbles that occasionally break that sheen. It is a natural seepage of oil, known as the La Brea Tar pit. A museum stands in the park and in it are the bones of all the animals that have been dredged from the swamps that once surrounded the site. There are wild camels, wild horses, mastodons, sabre-toothed tigers, wolves,…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect