An international team of scientists from China and Italy conducted a study, which revealed that humanity almost died out about 800-900 thousand years ago.
The researchers studied 3154 modern human genomes. Using the latest methods, including the innovative FitCoal, they were able to create a model that predicts the size of the human population in the distant past.
The Bottleneck Effect
This allowed them to discover the so-called “bottleneck effect”, when the human gene pool critically decreased and then recovered.
The most startling thing about this discovery is that early human ancestors faced catastrophic extinction: at that time, only about 1,280 individuals kept the human population afloat for 117,000 years, between 930,000 and 813,000 years ago.
“About 98.7% of human ancestors were lost,” said study co-lead Haipeng Li of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. “[The] discovery of this bottleneck may explain the chronological gap [in the fossil record at around this time.]”
This period corresponds to a significant chronological gap in the available fossil record of Africa and Eurasia.
What could have caused such a terrible decline in the human population?
Scientists suggest that the cause could be global climate change.
The glaciation resulted in a significant drop in temperature, severe droughts, and loss of biodiversity, which greatly reduced the amount of available resources needed for the survival of a large human population.
However, not all was lost. As the climate became more favourable and man mastered the fire, a rapid increase in population began, and mankind was reborn.
Now That’s Interesting
Evidence from an ancient butchery site in Tanzania shows early man was capable of ambushing herds of animals up to 1.6 million years earlier than previously thought. Ancient humans used complex hunting techniques to ambush and kill antelopes, gazelles, wildebeest and other large animals at least two million years ago.
* * *
Mysterious 3,800-Year-Old Canaanite Arch & Stairway Unearthed In Israel
Archaeologists have made a stunning—yet thoroughly puzzling—discovery in northern Israel: a 3,800-year-old Canaanite arch and stairway, perfectly preserved underground.
Researchers don’t know the purpose of the structure, which was unearthed at the Tel Shimron archaeological site. They also don’t understand why it was sealed off not long after its construction.
But its preservation is “breathtaking, especially since the building material is unfired (!) mud brick—a material that only rarely survives a long time,” says excavation co-director Mario A.S. Martin, an archaeologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, in an email to Live Science’s Sascha Pare.
* * *
More Archaeology News: Guanches: Ancient Mummies of The Canary Islands (Video)
Liked it? Take a second to support Collective Spark.
We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Collective Spark Story please let us know below in the comment section.