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Thursday, February 25, 2010

New research may reinforce human continuity through the Toba event in India

Found first
via but ratified and complemented through search engines on my own.

The international archaeological team lead by Michael Petraglia, Ravi Korisettar and J.N. Pal, seem to be on the path of reinforcing with hard data the theory that humankind would have survived in India through the Toba supervolcano event, c. 74,000 years ago, as reported by Oxford University.

No human remains seem to have been found yet but the data on lithic tools and the remains of other animal species all point to continuity and not the massive destruction that the thick ash layer would have suggested.

All this suggests that the ancestors of Eurasians (and by extension also the native peoples of Oceania and America) were alive and kicking at least 74,000 years ago in India, more than 15,000 years before that the often misleading "genetic clocks" tend to suggest.

In the words of Michael Petraglia:

This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. That is not to say that there were no ecological effects. We do have evidence that the ash temporarily disrupted vegetative communities and it certainly choked and polluted some fresh water sources, probably causing harm to wildlife and maybe even humans.

See also:
· Petraglia's team website.
· M. Petraglia et al., Middle Paleolithic Assemblages from the Indian Subcontinent Before and After the Toba Super-Eruption. Science 2007.
· James B. Harrod, Synopsis of Paleo-India., 2007 (PDF).

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