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Survival from Brink of Extinction: Population drop to 1,280 Individuals 900,000 Years Ago

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A mind-blowing journey back 900,000 years unveils an epic crisis for our African ancestors. Imagine, just 1,280 resilient remained in the face of extinction– a jaw-dropping 98.7% plunge! This astonishing revelation, fresh from Science’s pages, rewinds the clock to a dark era well before Homo sapiens’ debut. It’s like peeking into an ancient blockbuster!

Unveiling the Mystery

This ancient saga, shrouded in the mists of time, unfolds thanks to cutting-edge techniques. While modern DNA studies have shed light on later human populations, our early ancestors remained an enigma. Enter a new methodology that delves into our genetic heritage. By creating intricate family trees of genes, scientists could finally unlock secrets hidden for centuries.

Survival of the Few

Imagine, a tiny population of survivors, barely larger than a small town, managed to endure for 117,000 years! Archaeologist Nick Ashton calls this astounding. It suggests that these resilient souls likely inhabited a closely-knit community in a stable environment with ample resources. It’s a testament to human adaptability and strength.

Climate Catastrophe

This ancient drama played out during a period of dramatic climate change. As glacial cycles intensified, Africa endured extended droughts, challenging our ancestors’ resilience. Climate shifts may have wiped out some of our pre-human kin, eventually paving the way for new human species to emerge.

Genetic Legacy

The bottleneck, as scientists call it, left a profound mark on our genetic diversity. It’s believed that up to two-thirds of genetic variation vanished during this pivotal time. This loss impacted important human traits, such as brain size, and shaped the path to modern humans.

Unanswered Questions

As the study’s authors note, many mysteries remain. How did our ancestors survive this near-extinction event? What allowed them to flourish once more? While this research is groundbreaking, some, like Ashton, hope for more archaeological and fossil evidence to fully piece together this ancient puzzle.

Ancestral Resilience: Our Timeless Tale

So, as we ponder our daily challenges, let’s also marvel at the incredible journey of our ancestors. Against all odds, they weathered the storm, ensuring our species’ enduring legacy.

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