A new study questions the theory that our species would have come close to extinction after an environmental catastrophe that hit the Asian continent.
The eruption that took place in what is now Lake Toba in Indonesia, was one of the biggest volcanic events of the past 2 million years.
Scientists believe that the event, which took place 74,000 years ago, was so impactful that it caused the Earth’s temperature to drop for a thousand years.
The catastrophe would have wiped out entire populations of hominids and mammals in Asia, putting our own species at risk.
The few surviving Homo sapiens in Africa would have developed sophisticated social, symbolic and economic strategies that eventually enabled them to repopulate Asia 60,000 years ago.
The catastrophe may not have been so terrible
A new article published in Nature Communications, however, points to something else. According to the experts responsible for the study, linked to the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, there is evidence that our ancestors survived the eruption – which indicates that the environmental catastrophe was not as terrible as we thought.
The discovery was made thanks to investigations in Dhaba, in northern India, where archaeologists found tools used by humans who occupied the region at the time of the eruption.
“Dhaba populations used stone tools that were similar to the tool kits used by Homo sapiens in Africa,” reports Chris Clarkson, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Queensland, Australia.
“The fact that these toolkits did not disappear at the time of the Toba super-eruption or change dramatically soon after indicates that human populations survived the so-called catastrophe and continued to create tools to modify their environments.”