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Humans are unlike any other species on Earth. But it wasn't always that way, says Canadian anthropologist and filmmaker Niobe Thompson. Planet Earth, he says, was once like the fictional Middle Earth of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. "At the beginning, there were a lot of other kinds of humans … other intelligent walking apes just like us. Over that space of time they all went extinct and only one survived. "It's a wonderful starting point for a story. What is it that makes us the great survivor?"
One of the big surprises for him was that in the past million years, humans evolved not in a lush, Eden-like Africa but one with a wildly unstable climate, swinging quickly between floods and droughts, heat and cold within the span of a human lifetime. Thompson thinks that fluctuation played a big role in the natural selection that made humans what they are today. "What I'm convinced by is climate shifts were a really important forcer. They forced our evolution rapidly and in certain directions," he said in an interview. DNA evidence shows that during that period of time, humans came close to going extinct — our population may have dropped as low as 600 individuals.
To see how ancient humans survived conditions that likely wiped out their hominin cousins, Thompson and his crew spent time among traditional cultures including:
The Kalahari bushmen, who still live a hunter gatherer lifestyle in an African desert with almost no water.
The Crocodile People of Papua New Guinea, whose rare, secret skin-cutting initiation ritual was captured on film for the series.
The Badjoa of the Philippines, the last remaining free-diving nomads in the world, who can spend several minutes at a time holding their breath 100 metres underwater as they gather food from the sea floor.
If you scored over 500, you’re either a natural genius... or you teach anthropology in a university.
YOU SCORED 620 POINTS IN ONLY 82 SECONDS!
Congratulations! You've tested your knowledge of our human origins. If you scored over 500, you're either a natural genius... or you teach anthropology in a university.
originally posted by: myselfaswell
a reply to: rickymouse
Lol, at least you had a crack at it, and anyway scores only count if you know the answers. I only knew 6 of the 10 questions I got and that's, in part, because I read the synopsis for the show. I suppose it's one of those subjects that perhaps people think they know, but not really. And I include myself in the "people" statement.
More reading required I suppose, or at least watching the show when it's available.
The Toba catastrophe theory as presented in the late 1990s to early 2000s suggested that a bottleneck of the human population occurred c. 70,000 years ago, proposing that the human population was reduced to perhaps 10,000 individuals when the Toba supervolcano in Indonesia erupted and triggered a major environmental change. The theory is based on geological evidence of sudden climate change and on coalescence evidence of some genes (including mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome and some nuclear genes) and the relatively low level of genetic variation in humans.
Roughly 70,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years, an enormous eruption occurred in what is now Sumatra, leaving behind Lake Toba (the crater lake pictured above). The eruption coincides with a population bottleneck that is often cited as the reason for the relatively low genetic diversity across Homo sapiens sapiens. Research suggests as few as 2,000 humans were left alive by the eruption and its aftereffects.