WASHINGTON (AP) — Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests.
Geneticist Spencer Wells, here meeting an African village elder, says the study tells “truly an epic drama.”
The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.
The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated that the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.
“This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” said Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence.