Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is Science too big a subject?

Wired.com carries this article today about research into a drought that caused the human population in East Africa to shrink to "maybe 2,000" individuals about 70,000 years ago.  Interesting reading because it reports only half the story and you do have to wonder if the researchers don't know all the story either.

As reported on this blog, the human population did indeed shrink as a result of a massive volcanic eruption at Mount (now Lake) Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia.  the Toba event is well chronicled geologically as a layer of volcanic ash (or tuff) can be correlated across much of Asia.  The ash cloud would have caused a localized winter and guess where!  Prevailing winds would have carried the ash cloud around the globe and East Africa, birthplace of Homo sapiens, is at the same latitude.

The near extinction of our species was almost certainly true but what happened was truly marvelous.  A mass exodus lead to the classic survival of the fittest and perhaps those 2,000 survivors carried the "right stuff" to evolve into the intelligent life form called "humankind".