Humans almost became extinct a million years ago: “It’s a miracle that we made it” |  Science and the planet

Humans almost became extinct a million years ago: “It’s a miracle that we made it” | Science and the planet

And it didn’t matter much if there was no mention of man today. A new study shows that between 800,000 and 900,000 years ago, there were only 1,000 of our human ancestors left, a whopping 100,000 years. Remarkably, this decline coincided with significant climate change.

The study appeared yesterday In the famous scientific journal “Science”. The researchers used a new model to calculate the size of human populations in the past based on the genetic material of more than 3,000 modern-day people. They came to an amazing result.

“The results showed that our human ancestors experienced a sharp population decline between 930,000 and 813,000 years ago, when they reached only 1,280 individuals reproducing. This lasted about 117,000 years, and put our human ancestors on the brink of extinction.

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“It’s a very long period of time,” Professor Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum agrees to the Guardian. “It is a miracle that we have ever achieved this. For a population of this size, an epidemic or volcanic eruption alone may be enough to wipe out everyone.

This decline coincided with major changes in the Earth’s climate. Ice ages became longer, surface water temperatures in seas and oceans dropped, and there may have been longer periods of drought in Africa and Eurasia. There are hardly any fossils from this period in Africa and Eurasia.

According to Professor Giorgio Manzi, an anthropologist at Sapienza University in Rome and the lead researcher of the study, the reason for the population decline could also be a local phenomenon. “For example, our human ancestors may have been trapped in a place in Africa that was surrounded by desert,” he says.

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However, in such small and isolated populations, new species can emerge due to existential pressure, as evolutionary biology teaches. In this case, it was Homo heidelberg, which is considered the direct ancestor of early modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.

After a difficult period of 100,000 years, the number of human ancestors increased again. Something that may have had something to do with the discovery of ignition.

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