Time: 73,000 years ago
Place: Sumatra, Mount Toba
Event: Huge volcanic explosion
Result: World covered in ash, Human Race almost becomes extinct
Reaction: Who knew??
It’s a good thing I don’t leave everything to chance by just listening to the daily news and reading the paper. By bringing home a random assortment of books each week, I can keep up the odd historical fact. I picked up a new book Cro-Magnon : How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans by Brian Fagan, and it had a lot of surprising information in it.
I was flabbergasted when I read about Mt. Toba. OK- it all happened over 73,000 years ago, but shouldn’t I have known about something this big?
Toba is part of the infamous Pacific “Ring of Fire”, and apparently no one disputes that it blew itself up in a “super” or “mega-colossal” eruption some time between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago. This resulted in an extended “volcanic winter” at the same time we were descending into the latest glacial period. But did this cause the decline of the human population down to a mere 10,000 people or less? How severe was the genetic bottleneck? Scientists aren’t all in agreement (that’s the fun part– reading different opinions) but it makes for some interesting discussions.
So- did Mount Toba almost cause our demise? Maybe, maybe not; but you can read about it and decide. After all, what’s more absorbing than reading about our own evolution?