Where we’ve been II

Human beings are a lucky species and just how lucky is coming clear through population genetic analyses. One scary finding is the confirmation of a population “bottleneck” – we were reduced in numbers to a mere 2,000 people some 70,000 years ago (70 kya.) Our species had a common female ancestor ~200 kya (traced by mitochondrial DNA) and a common male ancestor ~100 kya (traced by Y-chromosomal genes), and in the time since “Eve” we broke apart into small groups and remerged just prior to the bottleneck according to this recent news report.

Consider the fate of our near kin:

  • Asian Homo erectus extinct at 40 kya
  • Homo neanderthalensis extinct at 30 kya
  • Homo floresiensis extinct at 12 kya
  • and ponder just how lucky we were.

    POST SCRIPTUM the original research the news bite was based on is available online at the American Journal of Human Genetics here: The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity