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When Humans Faced Extinction
BBC ^ | 6-10-2003 | Dr David Whitehouse

Posted on 06/10/2003 8:05:32 AM PDT by blam

When humans faced extinction

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Humans may have come close to extinction about 70,000 years ago, according to the latest genetic research.

From just a few, six billion sprang

The study suggests that at one point there may have been only 2,000 individuals alive as our species teetered on the brink.

This means that, for a while, humanity was in a perilous state, vulnerable to disease, environmental disasters and conflict. If any of these factors had turned against us, we would not be here.

The research also suggests that humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) made their first journey out of Africa as recently as 70,000 years ago.

Little diversity

Unlike our close genetic relatives - chimps - all humans have virtually identical DNA. In fact, one group of chimps can have more genetic diversity than all of the six billion humans alive today.

It is thought we spilt from a common ancestor with chimps 5-6 million years ago, more than enough time for substantial genetic differences to develop.

The absence of those differences suggests to some researchers that the human gene pool was reduced to a small size in the recent past, thereby wiping out genetic variation between current populations.

Evidence for that view is published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Oldest members

Because all humans have virtually identical DNA, geneticists look for subtle differences between populations.

One method involves looking at so-called microsatellites - short, repetitive segments of DNA that differ between populations.

These microsatellites have a high mutation, or error, rate as they are passed from generation to generation, making them a useful tool to study when two populations diverged.

Researchers from Stanford University, US, and the Russian Academy of Sciences compared 377 microsatellite markers in DNA collected from 52 regions around the world.

Analysis revealed a close genetic kinship between two hunter-gatherer populations in sub-Saharan Africa - the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo Basin and the Khosian bushmen of Botswana.

First migration

The researchers believe that they are "the oldest branch of modern humans studied here".

The data also reveals that the separation between the hunter-gatherer populations and farmers in Africa occurred between 70,000 and 140,000 years ago. Modern man's migration out of Africa would have occurred after this.

An earlier genetic study - involving the Y chromosomes of more than 1,000 men from 21 populations - concluded that the first human migration from Africa may have occurred about 66,000 years ago.

The small genetic diversity of modern humans indicates that at some stage during the last 100,000 years, the human population dwindled to a very low level.

It was out of this small population, with its consequent limited genetic diversity, that today's humans descended.

Small pool

Estimates of how small the human population became vary but 2,000 is the figure suggested in the latest research.

"This estimate does not preclude the presence of other populations of Homo sapiens sapiens (modern man) in Africa, although it suggests that they were probably isolated from each other genetically," they say.

The authors of the study believe that contemporary worldwide populations descended from one or very few of these populations.

If this is the case, humanity came very close to extinction.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; catastrophism; crevolist; extinction; faced; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; humans; multiregionalism; neandertal; toba
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I don't know they didn't mention that the 'super-Volcano Toba eruption 75,000 years ago was the culprit for the reduction in the human population.

Somewhere in Indonesia I read that human activity had been discovered just above the Toba ash level, I wonder what happened to these people?

1 posted on 06/10/2003 8:05:33 AM PDT by blam
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To: stanz; PatrickHenry
ping for a later read.
2 posted on 06/10/2003 8:09:59 AM PDT by stanz (Those who don't believe in evolution should go jump off the flat edge of the Earth.)
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To: blam
"Analysis revealed a close genetic kinship between two hunter-gatherer populations in sub-Saharan Africa - the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo Basin and the Khosian bushmen of Botswana. "

The Khosian Bushmen are physically unique among humans alive today. The females have a skin 'apron' over their genetial area and the men have a perpetual semi-erect penis. Their children are also born with Mongoloid spots.

3 posted on 06/10/2003 8:11:24 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Humans may have come close to extinction about 70,000 years ago, according to the latest genetic research....The study suggests that at one point there may have been only 2,000 individuals alive as our species teetered on the brink.

The actual number was 8 and it happened a lot more recently than that.

4 posted on 06/10/2003 8:12:28 AM PDT by far sider
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To: blam
Still beating that "out of Africa" dead horse, I see...
5 posted on 06/10/2003 8:15:52 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Californians are as dumm as a sack of rocks)
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To: blam
Very interesting article. And you certainly know how to draw a crowd.

~</;o)
6 posted on 06/10/2003 8:19:35 AM PDT by EggsAckley ( Midnight at the Oasis)
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To: blam
The Khosian Bushmen are physically unique among humans alive today. The females have a skin 'apron' over their genetial area and the men have a perpetual semi-erect penis. Their children are also born with Mongoloid spots.

There goes the "I just came out of the water" excuse...sucks to be them...hehe

7 posted on 06/10/2003 8:22:00 AM PDT by smith288 (The government doesn't need to save me from myself. Im quite capable thank you.)
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
PING. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
8 posted on 06/10/2003 8:22:01 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: blam
70,000 years is getting pretty close to the sudden emergence of culture in humans. A lot of folks believe that occurred because of the evolution of language.

I don't think it's impossible that this marked such a fundamental change that all who didn't have it couldn't compete.

Remember, when you're reading these reports, what they don't say. They don't say (or shouldn't) that this group of 2000 were the only humans alive. Just that all humans alive are descendents of those 2000, and not of any others.

I don't find it impossible to believe that those groups who had developed language simply stopped breeding with those that had not, and over the 30,000 years between the genetic choke-point and the archeological record of ubiquitous culture, simply supplanted those proto-humans who did not have the genetic capability for language.

9 posted on 06/10/2003 8:22:18 AM PDT by jdege
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To: blam
"Somewhere in Indonesia I read that human activity had been discovered just above the Toba ash level, I wonder what happened to these people?"

Mungo Man may represent the dead-end line of humans that survived the Toba super-volcano explosion 75,000 years ago.

There is an on-going argument to reduce the age of Mungo Man so that he fits into the 'Out-Of-Africa' theory. His DNA is unlike any human alive today, yet he has the body of 'modern humans.' (They're pulling their hair out over this one)

10 posted on 06/10/2003 8:23:54 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
read later
11 posted on 06/10/2003 8:24:53 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: jdege
I don't find it impossible to believe that those groups who had developed language simply stopped breeding with those that had not

Yeah, it's hard to get anywhere with somebody who doesn't understand "If I said you have a beautiful body would you hold it against me?"

12 posted on 06/10/2003 8:26:23 AM PDT by steve-b
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To: Publius6961
"Still beating that "out of Africa" dead horse, I see..."

Not me. I don't believe the 'Out-Of-Africa' BS. I'm a 'multi-regionalist.'

13 posted on 06/10/2003 8:27:00 AM PDT by blam
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To: jdege
"They don't say (or shouldn't) that this group of 2000 were the only humans alive. Just that all humans alive are descendents of those 2000, and not of any others. "

I agree. See my post #10. I expect there are other Mungo Man types out the yet to be discovered. I also believe we are Neanderthals but the DNA does not support that view. (Neanderthals may be the most recent dead-end at 27,500 years ago.)

14 posted on 06/10/2003 8:31:35 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Is it reasonable to assume that in 70,000 years, a group of 2000 Africans could mutate and provide the world with White people, Asian people, blondes, red-heads, Watutsis, pygmies, and Eskimoes? Evolution can perform such wonders in such a short time-frame?

I second the earlier poster who said the size of the human population after the cataclysm was only 8 and the date of the cataclysm was not long ago at all.

15 posted on 06/10/2003 8:33:29 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: blam; Carry_Okie
bump and ping
16 posted on 06/10/2003 8:35:12 AM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: PatrickHenry
This is what usually happens when the fast food places close for the holidays.
17 posted on 06/10/2003 8:38:26 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: ClearCase_guy
Redheads 'Are Neanderthals'

"Researchers at the John Radcliffe Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford say that the so-called “ginger gene” which gives people red hair, fair skin and freckles could be up to 100,000 years old."

18 posted on 06/10/2003 8:39:11 AM PDT by blam
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To: ClearCase_guy
Well, if a group of 2000 Africans could not "mutate and provide the world with White people, Asian people, blondes, red-heads, Watutsis, pygmies, and Eskimoes...in such a short time-frame, how did 8 do it?
19 posted on 06/10/2003 8:42:19 AM PDT by dsc ("Holistic" is only part of a word.)
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To: blam
Somewhere in Indonesia I read that human activity had been discovered just above the Toba ash level, I wonder what happened to these people?

Aside from having a headache from the noise they may have died out from the environmental degradation the followed the eruption.

20 posted on 06/10/2003 8:42:21 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Soddom has left the bunker.)
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To: blam
I don't believe the 'Out-Of-Africa' BS. I'm a 'multi-regionalist.

Ditto. I thought I was the only one.

21 posted on 06/10/2003 8:46:35 AM PDT by MattinNJ
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To: far sider; blam
I thought Toba might be responsible too, but the more I think about it the less sense it makes. How come Toba did not restrict the genes of Chimps or anything else, just humans?

It is clear that Man is a very recent arrival, how recent is up for debate. They gave a 70-140K window, but that is based on a lot of assumptions about population size. It is also based on the idea that mutation rates have remained constant.

That is not a reliable assumption when you consider that the Vela Supernova bathed Earth in radiation at several times its current rate for thousands of years. That would mean the mutation rate in the past was higher than the current rate they are using to make those calculations. That might move the DNA appearance of man to the cultural appearance of man (40K).
22 posted on 06/10/2003 8:47:42 AM PDT by Ahban
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To: blam
And you have been comfortable all this time, in the belief that the rise of Homo sapiens sapiens was an inevitability of history. Still don't believe in Divine intervention?

Just wait until the next time human populations get culled back.
23 posted on 06/10/2003 8:51:01 AM PDT by alloysteel
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To: dsc
I'm really not trying to turn this into a Creationist thread. Really.

But my view is that whenever some surprising dinosaur find is announced, one that stands evolution on it's head a little bit, the scientists say "Evolution is still valid. We have new evidence, and science knows how to deal with new evidence. We will tweak our theory of evolution and accomodate this new evidence." To me, they seem to jump through a lot of hoops in order to hold on to their precious theory of Evolution.

We recently had a thread (from a science journal) that cast some doubt on carbon dating. Maybe the world isn't as old as we thought. Now, this thread indicates that all humanity comes from a small group that lived some thousands of years ago.

Some people might be persuaded that the Creationist view, in which God had a hand in Man's existence, is being justified by recent findings.

Your mileage may vary. But I don't think standard Evolutionary Theory is being boosted by the stuff I see lately.

24 posted on 06/10/2003 8:51:14 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: ClearCase_guy
"I second the earlier poster..."

I, too, "walk by faith and not by sight", but I'm afraid you're about to get flammed unmercifully for it.
(But be of good cheer, He has overcome the world !)

25 posted on 06/10/2003 8:52:46 AM PDT by Psalm 73 ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here - this is a war room".)
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To: ClearCase_guy
Skin color and hair texture is largely a reflectin of climate. Caucasions and Asians have lighter skin due to UV radiation and the need to absorb more of it in Northern climes while Africans have dark skin in order to deflect excess UV radiation. Estimats range- but those who specialize in this area believe it took only about 20,000 years for dark skinned Africans who migrated to Europe to become "white". That is at least what I have read.
26 posted on 06/10/2003 8:54:45 AM PDT by Burkeman1
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To: dsc
In just a few hundred years, likely no more than a thousand, you can breed every variety of dog, from Chihuahua to Irish Wolf Hound, starting with some common mutts.

I would guess it would take about 16X longer for humans, given the likely age at onset of sexual maturity.

That would be if someone were directing the breeding program. A bit longer if left to themselves with geographic isolation, etc. as the diversity drivers.
27 posted on 06/10/2003 8:56:09 AM PDT by MalcolmS (Do Not Remove This Tagline Under Penalty Of Law!)
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To: ClearCase_guy
"I'm really not trying to turn this into a Creationist thread. Really."

Thank You. Please don't.

28 posted on 06/10/2003 8:57:17 AM PDT by blam
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To: ClearCase_guy
"Some people might be persuaded that the Creationist view, in which God had a hand in Man's existence, is being justified by recent findings."

Well, I happen to believe that God is entirely responsible for man's existence, but since I also believe that the Genesis creation story is allegorical, I don't know exactly how He went about it.

I've been thinking that God breathing life into Adam might be an allegory for God bestowing souls on vessels that he had created through a process that would leave the fossil record we find. My first thought on reading this was that perhaps those 2,000 were that group.
29 posted on 06/10/2003 9:00:42 AM PDT by dsc ("Holistic" is only part of a word.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
OK, so what you are saying is that it is hard to believe that it only took 70,000 years and a population of 2000 to get the diversity of the population we now have, but it's not hard to believe that it only took 6000 years and 8 people?

Does anyone else see something wrong with that logic?

Oh, that's right, goddidit, that explains EVERYTHING.
30 posted on 06/10/2003 9:01:09 AM PDT by Aric2000 (If the history of science shows us anything, it is that we get nowhere by labeling our ignorance god)
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To: Burkeman1
Yes, and if you check the DNA of people from Eritrea/Ethiopia you can probably see that they went back to Africa after some time in "ME"/"Europe".
31 posted on 06/10/2003 9:04:10 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: Ahban
That is not a reliable assumption when you consider that the Vela Supernova bathed Earth in radiation at several times its current rate for thousands of years.

Bathed the earth with X-rays? Interesting. How much? Is there data or a educated guess on how much would have arrived here?

32 posted on 06/10/2003 9:04:55 AM PDT by I got the rope
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To: Burkeman1
"Estimates range- but those who specialize in this area believe it took only about 20,000 years for dark skinned Africans who migrated to Europe to become "white". That is at least what I have read."

Yup. Anthropologist Marvin Harris (RIP), thinks it could have been as recent as 10k years ago.

33 posted on 06/10/2003 9:05:31 AM PDT by blam
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To: MalcolmS
Remember, human beings self-select based on individual preferences.

Researchers testing preferences have overlapped multiple faces of many different races to come up with a "generic" human face, and then tested to see whether this face is more or less attractive than any given human face. Surprisingly, this "average" face is considered quite attractive.

Women are more attracted to "masculine" faces when ovulating.

Human beings are very interesting creatures.
34 posted on 06/10/2003 9:09:07 AM PDT by CobaltBlue
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To: ClearCase_guy
Evolution can perform such wonders in such a short time-frame?

Some say yes. Evolutionary "bursts" can be followed by long periods when change is not noticeable. Frankly, it's all pretty tough to understand.

35 posted on 06/10/2003 9:10:29 AM PDT by Tallguy
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To: blam
re: It is thought we spilt from a common ancestor with chimps 5-6 million years ago)))

Where would junk science be without the passive voice to hide behind...

36 posted on 06/10/2003 9:12:10 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: CobaltBlue
"Women are more attracted to "masculine" faces when ovulating."

Yes, I read that...and attracted to less masculine at all other times.

37 posted on 06/10/2003 9:13:06 AM PDT by blam
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To: Mamzelle
Are you talking about ID, astrology, what Junk science do you mean?
38 posted on 06/10/2003 9:15:29 AM PDT by Aric2000 (If the history of science shows us anything, it is that we get nowhere by labeling our ignorance god)
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To: ClearCase_guy
I believe God created evolution.
39 posted on 06/10/2003 9:15:34 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: stuartcr
And He did it in 70000 yrs, which biblically translates to 7 days and nites.....
40 posted on 06/10/2003 9:18:37 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: Aric2000
The Hans Vavink scientists of the origins of anything...

Poor data makes for junk science--and no accountability makes for poor data. These are unknowable things, yet the scientists make such outlandish assertions. Any time the theories run into rough patches, they are helped out by "Hans Vavink"--you know, "And zen a millions years happens" --with hands waving.

41 posted on 06/10/2003 9:19:01 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: blam
This is sort of OT but speaking of self-selection, have you read any of the recent research on human sperm? There are different types of sperm that have different functions - killers, blockers, and egg-getters.
42 posted on 06/10/2003 9:20:52 AM PDT by CobaltBlue
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To: Ahban
http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=9600951

I found this, but I also found that Vela Supernova occurred 11K yrs ago.This does not fall within the 70-140k window.

Would this be enough time?
43 posted on 06/10/2003 9:21:59 AM PDT by I got the rope
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To: blam
IF this is true, then I think it pretty much invalidates those Cro Magnon/Neanderthal genetic studies.
44 posted on 06/10/2003 9:24:13 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: blam
That settles it then, the origin of mankind. Seems to me then that it was about 70,000 years ago that the Nommos came to earth, and hand selected these 2000 individuals to breed.

How do I know this? Well, because the Dogon say so! Hey, they've been right before....

45 posted on 06/10/2003 9:28:27 AM PDT by Paradox
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To: CobaltBlue
"This is sort of OT but speaking of self-selection, have you read any of the recent research on human sperm? There are different types of sperm that have different functions - killers, blockers, and egg-getters."

Yup, read that too. I had a discussion with my son( Dr blam) at Christmas.

I proposed to him that humans are evolving daily to comprehend pollution and all the other things that we're worried about these days. The 'selectivity' is occuring at the egg/sperm interface and post fertilization spontaneous abortions. If the mother's body is polluted, only the unions that can withstand the pollution will survive to birth. So...we're having births of stronger humans daily.

46 posted on 06/10/2003 9:31:25 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Not necessarily inconsistent with Torah.
47 posted on 06/10/2003 9:31:51 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: dsc
I've been thinking that God breathing life into Adam might be an allegory for God bestowing souls on vessels that he had created through a process that would leave the fossil record we find. My first thought on reading this was that perhaps those 2,000 were that group.

From reading some Jewish Kabbalist references, there's some argument in those quarters that Adam and Eve were the first "spiritually aware" humans (which is used to explain things like "who did cain marry" and "who went to live in the city that he built", etc), and that non-spiritually-aware humans pre-existed

48 posted on 06/10/2003 9:36:03 AM PDT by SauronOfMordor (Java/C++/Unix/Web Developer looking for next gig)
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To: blam
This is the first time I have seen the mention that the human race was so close to extinction aside from your own posts. So, it appears that we all emerged ancestrally from Africa, but not long ago and only because human life was extinguished everywhere else. I know some Chinese are not going to buy this hypothesis. They are taught in school that they evolved in China and that they were the earliest humans to evolve, and so are evolutionarily the most advanced.
49 posted on 06/10/2003 9:39:30 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: Mamzelle
You must be speaking of ID, either that, or anything that collides with your worldview is junk science.
50 posted on 06/10/2003 9:39:45 AM PDT by Aric2000 (If the history of science shows us anything, it is that we get nowhere by labeling our ignorance god)
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