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Humans Nearly Went Extinct 70,000 Years Ago

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the come-from-behind-victory dept.

Earth 777

Josh Fink brings us a CNN story discussing evidence found by researchers which indicates that humans came close to extinction roughly 70,000 years ago. A similar study by Stanford scientists suggests that droughts reduced the population to as few as 2,000 humans, who were scattered in small, isolated groups. Quoting: "'This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history,' said Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence. 'Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.'"

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777 comments

The way things are going (5, Insightful)

clonan (64380) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190706)

we will actually reach that population level again.

Environmental damage here we come!

Re:The way things are going (5, Funny)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190754)

we will actually reach that population level again. Environmental damage here we come!
Hear that Kelly Kapowski? Not if I was the last man on Earth, eh?

Re:The way things are going (0, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190822)

I'm beginning to tire of global warming catastrophe claims. Here [numberwatch.co.uk] are just a few (follow the link for actual links to these claims:

fashion disaster, fever,figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fish catches drop, fish downsize, fish catches rise, fish deaf, fish get lost, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, flood of migrants, flood preparation for crisis, Florida economic decline, flowers in peril, food poisoning, food prices rise, food prices soar, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frog with extra heads, frostbite, frost damage increased, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, giant oysters invade, giant pythons invade, giant squid migrate, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harmful algae, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, health affected, health of children harmed, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation affected, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late...

Re:The way things are going (5, Interesting)

clonan (64380) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190974)

The problem with global warming is three fold....

#1 it is unequally balanced..the temp changes more at the poles where the ecosystem is more sensitive to temperature. Therefore a small global change will mean dramatic changes in isolated areas.

#2 if you look through history, the average GLOBAL temperature over a one year period has typically hovered around 0 deg C for most of history. I hear that is an important temperature for something..... Anytime the temperature strays from freezing dramatic changes happen to the global environment.

#3 Consistency. So much of our modern society is based an the extremly mild conditions the earth has experienced over the last 20,000 years. Most of Europe is inhabitable ONLY because of the gulf stream and atlantic currents. Agriculture is ONLY possible because the temperature has been consistant year to year. We are in a sweet spot environmentally that is very unusual in earths history. screwing with the temperature is not going to help.

Re:The way things are going (0, Flamebait)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190982)

I'm beginning to tire of people who refuse to take global warming seriously as a threat to the well-being of the human species and the larger environment.

How about we make a deal - if global warming turns out not to cause widespread famine and damage, I'll give you $100 for being right. If it does turn out to be a problem, you commit suicide to spare resources for those of us who saw the problem coming.

Re:The way things are going (4, Insightful)

drakaan (688386) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191196)

How about the people who busily insist that can't possibly be anything other than a wholly human-caused phenomenon, and that we can definitely stop it. What if we can't? Plans, anyone?

Seriously, I want my interstellar settler permit and associated vehicle already...oh, wait...we can't even go to the moon anymore.

Re:The way things are going (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191480)

Well if what we are doing right now is the best we can do, and we are causing global warming, then we are completely screwed.
Might as well give up now and save a few billion dollars.

I'm of the opinion that GW is natural and we are just giving it a teeny tiny push.
Next they'll blame the next ice age on human activity as well.

Re:The way things are going (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191228)

we tire of you because you refuse to acknowldge basic climate science and refuse to follow proper scientific methods.

1. CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas

2. The amount of CO2 re release into the atmosphere is pathetic compared to the other gases - a mere 0.28% 3. The hottest years on record predate the industrial revolution

4. There are a number of other factors such as the above that you can't/don't give an explaination for (solar activity being one), and you simply resort to either the "your workin for big oil" or the "i'm more rightgous than you" defense, neither of which is a valid scientific defense.

Re:The way things are going (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191426)

You are arguing with a religious nut. Like many religious nuts they are will use lies, deceit, trickery and murder to achieve their goals.

Re:The way things are going (2, Insightful)

sdnick (1025630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191266)

"How about we make a deal - if global warming turns out not to cause widespread famine and damage, I'll give you $100 for being right. If it does turn out to be a problem, you commit suicide to spare resources for those of us who saw the problem coming."

The economic impact of the kind of changes global warming devotees are demanding far exceeds $100 per devotee. At minimum, the negative impact on developing economies and the resulting harm to the poor of the world should require that you kill yourself as well if you're wrong.

Re:The way things are going (0, Flamebait)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191298)

I'm beginning to tire of people who refuse to take global warming seriously as a threat to the well-being of the human species and the larger environment.
How can I take it seriously when we supposed to be dead already, if you believed the predictions that have been made throughout recent history.

In the 1960's it was over population/starvation (and DDT!)
In the 1970's it was Global Cooling/Ice Age
In the 1980's in was Pollution/Smog
In the 1990's it was the Ozone Layer
Now, it's Global Warming.

Sorry, but I ain't buying it this time!

That is Jew thinking (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191502)

You think like a Neo-con Jew.

Vote Obama!

Re:The way things are going (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191560)

In the 60's, greenies like myself fought against pollution from companies. If we had allowed the companies to continue, we would look FAR worse than parts of china or old USSR does today (and have significantly far worse health issues, akin to china's).
The global cooling issue was a 1 time tabloid issue. It was never in the science world other than 1 article. Only idiots point to that.
In the 80's, it was reagan trying to roll back the environmental changes (interestingly, the majority of the environmental laws esp EPA was from the pubs). It was the beginning of the ozone issue.
In the 90's, it was solving the Ozone issue. And just all the other ones was a problem. Fortunately, it is being saved because the freon was stopped. But we still have a hole in the south pole, that is slowly receding.

And since the 90's, global warming has been an issue. Back in the mid 90's, the neo-cons said that the earth is not warming. Now they say that man can not be behind the warming.

Do not buy it. Just quit polluting and forcing your shit on me and mine.

Re:The way things are going (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191574)

The DDT ban was one of the most successful examples of environmental policy in our history.

I presume that you love America? And perhaps by extension that you love our national symbol, the bald eagle? Well the only reason you can see them in the wild today is because of the DDT ban. They are one of the few species to ever come back after being placed on the endangered species list, and it's directly due to environmental action. So I'd hope you'd show a little gratitude.

I've heard convincing arguments that an outright ban on DDT went too far, and allowing small-scale controlled usage would have been beneficial. However the large scale cause-and-effect of spewing tremendous amounts of DDT everywhere -> bald eagle populations dropping, and banning DDT -> bald eagle populations recovering is indisputable. We know it was the DDT; we could measure it in the corpses of their prematurely dead young.

Other than that... Global Cooling was not actually a mainstream theory. Pollution/Smog was a serious problem, ask anyone who lived in L.A. in the 80s and now compared to now thanks to their emissions regulations. The ban of CFCs has had a demonstrably positive effect on the condition of the ozone layer.

So you're basing your decision to not believe in Global Warming based on a series of things which mostly turned out to be completely true?

Good job!

Re:The way things are going (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191008)

we will actually reach that population level again. Environmental damage here we come!

I knew someone would say this. Alright, I'll bite. Name one plausible environmental damage scenario (other than full-out nuclear war) that would cause a significant proportion of human extinction.

The most extreme predictions of global warming will hardly slow down human population growth, much less actually reduce populations, much less threaten us with extinction. (Of course, predictions are that human population growth will naturally slow and even stop over the next 50 years, but that's another subject).

Re:The way things are going (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191080)

Good old fashion starvation and disease.

For reference, see the current food prices and how these are liked in the developing world. Biofuel mania has something to do with it, but increased consumption by people and animals people eat is the major problem.

Re:The way things are going (5, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191236)

Good old fashion starvation and disease. For reference, see the current food prices and how these are liked in the developing world. Biofuel mania has something to do with it, but increased consumption by people and animals people eat is the major problem.

Yes, it's entirely possible to get crop failures leading to starvation. But how many deaths? 1M? 10M? Not even a small dent in human population.

The flaw in your thinking is very common -- it assumes a static world that does not adjust. If people are dying by the millions, then things will adjust. Hunger is by far a distribution problem, not a food production problem.

Re:The way things are going (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191172)

Maybe something like an airborne or mosquito-borne variant of HIV? In other words, if the virus mutated to be resistant to destruction outside of a warm fluid. I'm not sure how plausible this is though.

Re:The way things are going (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191338)

Maybe something like an airborne or mosquito-borne variant of HIV?

It's certainly possible to get killer diseases, but that's not an environmental damage scenario. That can happen anytime.

Re:The way things are going (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191328)

Volcanism. With global warming, the melting of the polar ice will result in a major redistribution of mass. The planet will want to conserve angular momentum. Something will have to give.

It might not happen for over a thousand years, but a volcanically induced global winter could certainly be the result of global warming.

Re:The way things are going (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191420)

Volcanism. With global warming, the melting of the polar ice will result in a major redistribution of mass. The planet will want to conserve angular momentum. Something will have to give.

Huh? I suggest going to look up the mass of the earth, compared to the mass of all the water. The mass of ALL the water is proportionally tiny, much less the mass of just the ice. Then try and remember that the world goes through periodic ice ages that redistribute water mass all the time.

Re:The way things are going (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191478)

sssshh, it's yet another link to global warming. if you disagree you MUST work for big oil.

Re:The way things are going (0)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191106)

That's not necessarily too bad. Without precluding myself from caring about other people as individuals, the world's poorest will start to die out from overpopulation and subsequent famine, poverty may become less of a problem as there's more to go around per person.

Extrapolating even further, these neo-poor populations may have enough money to pull themselves out of poverty over the course of a few generations.

Remember, the less of us there are, the more each of us has. Let's shoot for less than two children per family (combined average), worldwide, so our kids will lead better lives than we do and so on.

Re:The way things are going (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191222)

How many of the people who survive in that scenario would actually be Slashdotters, 0.5?

I'm not trying to say anything about Slashdotters either, I'm talking about the 1 million to 1 odds of being a survivor

Re:The way things are going (1)

dubbleenerd (905429) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191252)

we will actually reach that population level again.

Environmental damage here we come!
..I've already been told by many women that they wouldn't sleep with me even if I was the last man on Earth. I wonder if they were serious.

Timely (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23190716)

Timely article. We're about to become nearly extinct again.

Re:Timely (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190956)

Congratulations, you've discovered the lost philosophy of EXTINCTIONISM!
Practised widely following the invention of the atomic bomb and in lesser amounts throughout recorded history, this doctrine states that all humanity will utterly perish in a few short years due to X, where X is anything new.
It does give you cynic points, which are really important when trying to score with that Lit major chick at the Art House party, so that's a bonus.

Are we SO sure? (-1, Offtopic)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190736)

Could it have been a cataclysmic flood and not a drought? Couldn't those 2000 have been the second, third and fourth generations of Noah?

No? Didn't think so... just checking. How many "Arks" have been found so far anyway?

Re:Are we SO sure? (4, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191032)

I have a whopping 10 mod points, but would rather participate in this discussion instead, so here goes:

I think that this is actually plausible. Things to mull over that could make this an interesting topic:

1) What evidence, 70000 years later, would decisively display the difference between a flood and a drought?

2) Could the Noah story be an allegory written after the fact to describe this event, with only the details mixed up? If so, what does that tell us about this story?

3) What remnants of an Ark would one expect to find 70000, or even 5000 years after the fact? Conversely, what evidence could be shown that would decisively PROVE OR DISPROVE that the event happened? And I'm talking about scientific evidence here. Not anecdotal faith-based cruft. Not even science-based faith-based cruft, if you please...

Love these topics. Go people, go!! :P

Re:Are we SO sure? (4, Funny)

taniwha (70410) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191062)

actually the whole almost dieing out thing just reeks of a total lack of intelligent design

Re:Are we SO sure? (-1, Redundant)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191182)

Not to mention that 70.000 years ago is 63.988 years before God created the Earth.

Re:Are we SO sure? (1)

superyooser (100462) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191330)

That's exactly what I was thinking.

The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.

How does genetics indicate drought instead of flood (or something else)? Is this "analysis" or pure guessing?

Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions...

"These are the clans of Noah's sons, according to their family records, in their nations. The nations on earth spread out from these after the flood." - Genesis 10:32

Further scattering: "So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth." - Genesis 11:8-9

Re:Are we SO sure? (1)

‹berhund (27591) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191352)

You're trying too hard. I can think of a couple things it could explain better:

Adam and Eve: there were a few other people around for their kids to marry. And a "Garden of Eden" would be especially appealing after a drought.

It could also explain the loss of ancient technology, like space travel. That's just too small a population to maintain that kind of advanced knowledge.

Re:Are we SO sure? (2, Interesting)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191578)

...Could it have been a cataclysmic flood and not a drought?...

The same book where we may read about the (almost) extinction of humanity by water, informs us that the next time God will use fire!

2Peter 3:6 ..through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished. 7 But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

According to that book, Universe was stretched out (Big Bang) at the Beginning

Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man on it; I with My hands have stretched out the heavens; and all their host have I commanded.

Isaiah 48:13 My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens. I called; they stood up together.

And it will end up in "The Big Crunch" that follows "The Big Bang" that began it.

Isaiah 34:4 And all the host of the heavens shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled like a scroll; and all their host shall droop, as a leaf falls off from the vine, and as the falling from the fig tree.

2Peter 3:10 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will disappear with a roaring sound, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be burnt.

Revelation 6:14 And the heaven departed like a scroll when it is rolled together. And every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

Now you don't HAVE to believe the things written in the Bible, but what if the above and everything else therein is true after all? Something to think about.

"Climate Change"... (1)

m4cph1sto (1110711) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190748)

Wow, a horrible drought and a near-extinction event 70,000 years ago? I guess those ancient humans should have kept their CO2 emission levels under control!

Re:"Climate Change"... (2, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190882)

Is this the new "Godwins law"?

What will make us nearly extinct the next time will be a lack of breeding due to an overuse of the Internet in the general population.

Re:"Climate Change"... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23190968)

What will make us nearly extinct the next time will be a lack of breeding due to an overuse of the Internet in the general population.
LoL. U Want 2 cyber?
/I put on my wizard robe and hat

In other news... (1)

shindrak (1148025) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190800)

Scientists have apparently learned how to send information backwards in time because somehow I had heard this some time ago.


Or it could be that maybe this story is not new, but I like the time travel theory. Time hopping deLoreans here we come!

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191076)

somehow I had heard this some time ago.
I'll assume the above part isn't sarcastic, it's a pain decoding sarcastic comments.

The article says, "Studies using mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through mothers, have traced modern humans to a single "mitochondrial Eve," who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago."

So you probably just heard about a different near extinction.

Damn those Cylons (5, Funny)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190820)

I guess only 2,000 survivors made down to the planet's surface from the Battlestar Galactica. They should have listened to Starbuck earlier.

Re:Damn those Cylons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191220)

You just spoiled the series for me!

The flood! (1)

Kelz (611260) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190840)

When I was in middle school (private, christian middle school), my science teacher loved to take stories like this and adapt it to the bible. He spent a whole lot of time trying to disprove the age of the earth, and after that it wouldn't be much of as jump to just say "Oh, that 70,000 years was actually only 5,000, and the population went down so much because of the flood!"

Wow, I'm pretty glad I got out of there.

Re:The flood! (1, Funny)

chmilar (211243) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190914)

Or the other explanation:

God went to a lot of effort to manufacture the false DNA trail for us to discover. He did it all merely "to test our faith".

OMG, that God fella sure worked hard! How come he has become so complacent since then. I mean, what universes, creatures, or false evidence has he made lately. It's not like God is spending all of his time raising the kid - he's dead, for Christ's sake!

Worse than that.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191018)

...the human population was once chopped down to much less than 2000 survivors. Try only 8 survivors.

And some number of generations before that, it all started out with only two humans, and very shortly before that, there was only one, and before that, none.

Re:The flood! (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191600)

Floods typically do follow droughts.. so I wouldn't be surprised if an oral tradition was formed around how the global flood (which is a legend in most every culture) was passed on for 70,000 years or so.

The concept of races (5, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190878)

This event probably ended up establishing the concept of "races", meaning small groups of geographically isolated humans ended up having a lot of genetically distinct features. As their populations grew, they seemed very foreign to each other and only in modern times those barriers to gene flow seem to be falling.

I look forward to the day when people stop saying "I'm X race" and instead say "I carry the genetic markers for A, B, and C." Well, perhaps it's unlikely, but an ex-biologist can dream, can't he?

Re:The concept of races (4, Insightful)

Kelz (611260) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190930)

Or perhaps instead of saying "I'm X race" just say "This is my speciality and these are my accomplishments!" Once you get to a certain average prosperity level worldwide, it eventually stops mattering.

Re:The concept of races (3, Insightful)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191606)

Now that's the best concept I've ever heard on slashdot. Makes the internet really nice. Nobody knows what race you are, or education, or even sex. And none of it really matters in the end.

Re:The concept of races (4, Insightful)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191004)

Speaking as an American, as long as dumbasses think they're special because some of their ancestors came from Ireland 8 generations ago before proceeding to mix with every other background in the US, we're going to hear a lot more "I'm Irish" or worse "I'm 1/16 Cherokee, 1/2 Irish, 2/7 Italian..." crap.

Conversation with government clerk.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191258)

Conversation with government clerk filling out official forms...

Clerk: Full name please?
Me: Allen Dale Douglas
Clerk: Date of Birth?
Me: June 12th, 1981
Clerk: Place of birth?
Me: In a hospital.
Clerk: Which city and state, Einstein?
Me: Oh, Dallas TX, Presbyterian Hospital
Clerk: Sex?
Me: Sometimes.
Clerk: (rolls eyes ) Sex?
Me: Male.
Clerk: Race?
Me: Human.
Clerk: No, I mean what ethnicity are you?
Me: Texan.
Clerk: (rolls eyes again, tosses pencil up into the air and walks away)

Re:The concept of races (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191210)

Oh, it would have taken more than one such event, but we know that more than one such event occured. There have been other reports of other droughts nearly killing off humanity and the bottlenecks showing up in the DNA. Once humanity fragmented globally, however, mutations would have stayed reasonably local, and this also created races. (The two African tribes mentioned in the article formed from the drought mentioned and the Australian aborigines formed from early geographic isolation, making the three very special examples of humanity, but that should not lead anyone to conclude they should be treated as ouside humanity - they've a greater right to the title than most extremists.)

The rest of humanity spread out across the globe, the Genography project has some nice maps of how the genetic markers show humanity to have moved. They do make one error when it comes to Europe. Europe was settled at least twice - once by a long-headed hunter-gatherer people and then later by a rounder-headed farming people. The long-headed people are the ones who developed lactose tolerence and anyone who can digest cheese or milk in any quantity is descended from the long-heads. In order for that to make sense, the long-heads must have migrated with cattle or goats, much as many nomadic tribes do today. The Iron age "Ice Man" (central Europeans give them such boring names - at least Britain's bogman was called Pete Marsh) was, if I remember the description correctly, one of the round-headed people. He was also left-handed, but that probably doesn't signify anything of interest. He was either a trader or a trapper and there can't have been many tools in either trade that were designed with a specific hand in mind.

Re:The concept of races (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191212)

As in "I carry the genetic markers of primarily caucasian ancestors"?

Re:The concept of races (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191292)

Or perhaps it is just that people that stay put tend to have more children than the ones that travel about. Thus the influx of "new" gene material is insignificant compared to the continued spread of the current gene pool (the one contained within a geographical area, language or culture).

Re:The concept of races (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191548)

Current research, like the research wen you were active in the field, still fails to find genetic markers.

Humans: Inbred? (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190918)

I thought the minimum number of individuals to avoid massive genetic problems was much larger than 2000. Interesting.

Population bottleneck, and his name is Noah (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191140)

I thought the minimum number of individuals to avoid massive genetic problems was much larger than 2000.
That's why man lives 70 years and not 700.

So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (3, Interesting)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 5 years ago | (#23190926)

Going back 70,000 years, then, there were only 2,000 of us...and...let's be honest...we were probably a skinny, not-too-bright, not-too-strong, disease-ridden, sorry-assed bunch of H. Sapiens. The Neanderthals obviously outnumbered us by many times over and could have rid the world of our kind. Thank you Neanderthals for sparing us...and we're sorry about anything we might have done to you...later.

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (5, Insightful)

diablovision (83618) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191186)

Actually the study can't support the statement that there were only 2,000 of us at that time. What it does say is that only 2,000 of us alive at that time managed to pass down their genes until today. There might have been a larger population whose genes we have lost in the intervening time (e.g. during the Bubonic plague).

The problem with these studies is that there isn't any DNA record of the humans that didn't make it. The only evidence we could hope to find of the humans that have died out is fossilized remains, which are few and far between.

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (1)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191618)

Important point. mod up.

A similar study by Stanford scientists suggests that droughts reduced the population to as few as 2,000 humans, who were scattered in small, isolated groups

This is exactly the kind of statement that make me wonder how many people read it and believe it.

I'm no expert and these scientists can probably make more accurate estimates than me, but they surely can't know how many people lives 2000 years ago. A handfull of teeth, some half-understood DNA-data and some theories simply don't give that kind of information.

2000 might be a nice "estimate" but maybe they should write 2000 (+/- 1 bilion).

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191188)

Maybe. Don't sell your species short. We're a clever, sneaky, and potentially quite vicious bunch of apes. These few remaining humans, even if they got lucky (as they almost certainly did), demonstrated that they could survive when nearly all others of their species died. Whatever their physical fitness level, they probably had what it took upstairs.

Of course what I'm really saying is that in all probability we would have struck first, catching the Neanderthals by surprise. And without any concept of a nation-state to organize them, their overall superior numbers would have mattered little.

If I was a Neanderthal, and I knew what Humans were capable of, I probably would have been pretty worried over 2,000 of em running around.

Just sayin'.

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191422)

And now we're an over-weight, not-too-bright, not-too-strong, disease-ridden, sorry-assed bunch of H. Sapiens.

What a difference 70,000 years makes!

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191446)

um... Neanderthals had diminished and vanished from Asia approximately 50,000 years ago, then Europe around 30,000 years ago. Chances are anywhere they were alongside the reduced HSapiens population at 70,000 years ago, the Neanderthals weren't doing too good either.

You're falling into the classic and simplistic conflict argument for no reason. We don't have evidence for it, and really it requires density. Species will only compete violently when they have to, because injury is costly. Way back when the populations were low, there was a lot of room for avoidance.

Interesting modern version is with bears. You'll be hiking in the boondocks and come across a bear near the trail, and the bear will look the other way. The bear knows you're there, and knows you know it's there, but wants to avoid direct eye contact and thus confrontation, so it does that very neat avoidance behavior so you can continue along the trail and out of the bear's area. (Yes, it's nerve wracking.)

Re:So...the Neanderthals could have wiped us out (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191614)

You mean the Neanderthals that ended up being old men with rheumatism? Yup, big threat, that.

Supervolcanic event at Lake Toba, on Sumatra (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23190984)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory

Global warming (0, Troll)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191024)

Global warming religious fanatics will use this for more fear-mongering in the media and everywhere else in 4... 3... 2... 1...

Re:Global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191230)

Global warming religious fanatics will use this for more fear-mongering in the media and everywhere else in 4... 3... 2... 1...
As opposed to pollutionists like yourself? Give me global warming fanatics any day of the week, at least they don't advocate mass pollution as the american way of life.

Old News (2, Interesting)

jr76 (1272780) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191088)

Maybe it's because I pay attention to genetics and genealogy (and I thought people were geekier than I am here) but I clearly remember this news from 2006. Why is it getting recycled now, two years later?

Re:Old News (4, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191434)

Maybe it's because I pay attention to genetics and genealogy (and I thought people were geekier than I am here) but I clearly remember this news from 2006. Why is it getting recycled now, two years later?

The end of this article [nationalgeographic.com] seems to cover that. Basically, this is a completely independent set of data (taken from the Genographic Project) that further confirms a theory that's been kicking around for a while.

global warming (1)

leoboiko (462141) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191116)

That's why my great-great-great^{875}-grandmother kept telling her husband Ugh not to burn black-rock-oil to make campfires, but he didn't listen...

Supervolcanoes are bad, specifically in Sumatra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191126)

Read up on the supervolcanic event at Lake Toba, on Sumatra - via wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

According to the Book (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191178)

They were all hairdressers and artists and the like. They probably banded together into groups that did specific useless functions: painters, hairdressers, designers, admins, short order cooks.

should the glowbull warmongering religious zealot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191206)

corepirate nazi execrable fail to be intervened upon, 'surviving' may not be as much fun as one might guess. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Who's in the 2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191208)

Every /.er would want to be a part of those 2000; that would phenomenally increase their chances of getting laid. Err, not every /.er, may be just 50%.

If by 70,000 years ago (5, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191240)

you mean 6000 years ago, and if by a drought you mean a flood, and if by 2000 human beings, you mean one bad-ass yachtsman named Noah and his hot wife Jessica Alba, then I would be inclined to agree. Otherwise I'm afraid this is just another godless article passed off as 'science' by Lucifer-worshipping scientists and their ilk over at CNN.

Seems a bit shaky to me (4, Interesting)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 5 years ago | (#23191444)

This whole article seems to rest on the premise that humans left Africa en masse about 60,000 years ago. This is likely, but still a hotly contested theory. A rival theory contends that modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) originated about the same time from Homo erectus, whose bones have been found in Asia and Africa (the multiregional theory).

It stands to reason that the tests on mitochondrial DNA of a group in Africa is only useful if you assume everyone left Africa sometime after 60,000 years ago.

Given there are numerous sites in Australia that claim to have artefacts stretching back at least that far (and possibly 176,000 years ago) it is very likely there were pockets of humans in other parts of the world much earlier than 60,000 years.

This research actually only shows that there is evidence of a population crash in Africa. Not that homo sapiens across the world had a population crash.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191564)

Of course humans were extinct 70,000 years ago, they were extinct just until 6000 years ago. :)

Slashdot should remain a purely technical site (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23191602)

Please stop perpetrating Godless, liberal left, illogical, unscientific ( based on fiction) agenda. Please keep it to technical/Computer/Electronic/Programming etc.
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