This is an episode in the series about of how Homo sapiens once shared the Earth with other species of hominids, and how, against all the odds, we survived.
In the not-too-distant past, humans shared this planet with other species of hominid: Homo Erectus, Homo floresiensis (which were kicking around until 12,000 years ago in modern-day Indonesia, as well as Homo neanderthalensis, which, it has been discovered, still lives on in 3-5% of the genetics of Europeans and Asians, and in some populations of the African Continent.
This episode begins 75,000 years ago in India, following a catastrophic super-volcanic eruption of Mount Toba. located in the archipelago which makes up the modern-day country of Indonesia. This volcanic blast was by far the largest volcanic event in the past 2 million years and the ensuing “nuclear winter” and dearth of food forced a showdown between the Homo sapiens who had strayed into India into and the Homo erectus, who up until that point had reigned supreme, in that area.
Homo sapiens populations are thought to have sharply decreased to 3,000 “10,000 surviving individuals, which is supported by genetic evidence suggesting that today’s humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago.
Evidence from pollen analysis has suggested prolonged deforestation in South Asia, and some researchers have suggested that the Toba eruption may have forced Homo sapiens to adopt new adaptive strategies, which may have permitted them to replace Neanderthals and Homo erectus – but it does not explain the mysterious survival of Homo floresiensis, a very small hominid, about 3 feet tall (I’ve seen a cast of a complete skeleton one of these cute little guys).
Homo floresiensis were living relatively close to the Mount Toba eruption compare to India, they were located in Southeastern Asia – and yet they only went extinct around 12,000 years ago and the legends told by numerous locals to this day still speak of them and how they would kidnap the children (of Homo sapiens’ storytellers).