Our ancestors almost went extinct around 900,000 years ago
By T.K. Randall
September 4, 2023 · 23 comments
What happened around 900,000 years ago ? Image Credit: Public Domain
A new genetic data analysis has revealed that our ancestors were almost completely wiped out.
It's hard to imagine humanity going extinct in today's world, but almost 1 million years ago our ancestors almost entirely disappeared and remained on the brink for over 100,000 years.
This discovery was made thanks to a new genetic data analyzing technique which found that, at one point, our ancestors' population had reduced to a mere 1,280 individuals.
It remains unclear exactly what brought about such a stark decline in numbers, nor why the population did not recover for another 117,000 years.
"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.]"
The fact that the population had reduced by so much for so long is particularly intriguing.
"This would imply that it occupied a very localized area with good social cohesion for it to survive," said Nick Ashton, an archaeologist at the British Museum in London.
"Of greater surprise is the estimated length of time that this small group survived."
"If this is correct, then one imagines that it would require a stable environment with sufficient resources and few stresses to the system."
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