Mennesket ble nesten utslettet for 70.000 år siden. Tørke hadde redusert antall mennesker til små grupper på til sammen rundt 2.000 individer, viser ny forskning på den såkalte mitochondrial-DNA, en type DNA som mødre er bærere av.

DNA-forskning viser at mennesket stammer fra en ur-Eva som levde i Afrika for rundt 200.000 år siden. Hun er menneskehetens stammor.

Eastern Africa experienced a series of severe droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago, and researchers said this climatological shift may have contributed to the population changes, dividing into small, isolated groups that developed independently.

Paleontologist Meave Leakey, a Genographic adviser, asked, «Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction?»

To stammer i Sør-Afrika: Khoi og San viser seg å ha en avvikende type mitochondrial-DNA, og har skilt lag med de andre gruppene på denne tiden.

«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.

«Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.»

Humans nearly wiped out 70,000 years ago, study says