Scientists have calculated that for a period lasting one million years and beginning 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors were spreading through Africa, Europe and Asia, there were probably between 18,500 to 26,000 individuals capable of breeding (and no more than 26,000). This made them an endangered species with a smaller population than todayís species such as gorillas which number 25,000 breeding individuals and chimpanzees (21,000).
Researchers have proposed a number of explanations , such as events in which a significant proportion of the population is killed or prevented from reproducing. One such event was the Toba super-volcano in Indonesia that erupted around 70,000 years ago, triggering a nuclear winter. Only an estimated 15,000 humans are thought to have survived. Another explanation is that the numbers of humans and our ancestors were chronically low throughout the last two million years, sometimes with only 10,000 breeding individuals surviving.
The new research is concerned with the entire genome rather than specific genetic lineages studied in the earlier research work. Using a new method of studying genetic markers of DNA in the genome has allowed geneticists to study the genetics not only modern humans, but also our early ancestors such as Homo erectus (thought the most likely to be our direct ancestors), H. ergaster and archaic H. sapiens. Remarkably, they found there was enough information in only two human DNA sequences to estimate the ancient population size.
Human geneticist Lynn B. Jorde and colleagues at the University of Utah studied parts of the genome containing mobile elements called Alu sequences, which are sections of DNA around 300 base-pairs long that randomly insert themselves into the genome. This is a rare occurrence, but once inserted, they tend to stay in place over generations, and act as markers, rather like fossils, for ancient parts of the genome.
From theirstudies, they calculated there was more genetic diversity in our early ancestors than there is in modern humans. They also came to the conclusion that there had been a catastrophic event around one million years ago that was at least as devastating as the Toba volcanic eruption, and which had almost wiped out the species.
PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 19.
March 03, 2011 11:03 AM
Cracked Mayan Code May Point to 8 Tons of Lost Treasure
Published March 01, 2011
| Fox News Latino
AP Photo/Miguel Tovar
A ceramic head found in a newly discovered tomb sits on display at the Mayan Tonina archeological site near Ocosingo village in Mexico's Chiapas state.
It's a treasure hunt even Indiana Jones would be proud of. Buried beneath a lake in Guatamala sits a fortune in lost treasure -- Mayan gold to be precise -- and a group of German archeologists has just set off to find it. Their only guidance, a freshly decoded ancient book containing a map to the treasure. It sounds like a movie, but it's very much real, reported FoxNewsLatino. Joachim Rittsteig, an expert in Mayan writing who is heading up the mission to Guatemala's Lake Izabal, the site reported. Rittsteig claims to have cracked the famous Dresden Codex, a pre-Columbian Maya book possibly from the 11th century, and discovered in its pages specific information that leads to a treasure in the lake."The Dresden Codex leads to a giant treasure of eight tons of pure gold," said Rittsteig, who has spent more than 40 years studying the document. According to the German newspaper Bild, which is sponsoring the expedition, two reporters from the publication, a photographer, a television camera, and a professional diver will visit Izabal in an attempt to find the gold. A professor emeritus at Dresden University and author of various publications about the Maya culture, Rittsteig stressed that the information is in the Codex. "Page 52 talks about the Maya capital of Atlan, which was ruined by an earthquake on October 30th in the year 666 BC," he said. "In this city, they kept 2,156 gold tablets on which the Maya recorded their laws."
March 02, 2011 8:05 PM
We learn just what humans are capable of through the study of our responses to commands and leadership. How is it that dictators are so easily able to manipulate the masses? Are humans pre-programmed to carry out any actions necessary to our group acceptance?
March 02, 2011 2:03 PM
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is principally owned by five merchant banks in London, chartered by the Bank of England. Most Americans will be shocked to discover that the principle business of the Federal Reserve is to print money from 'nothing', lend it to the U.S. government and charge interest on these loans, Every hundred dollar bill, which the Federal Reserve system prints and is sold to the United States at full face value, represents a hundred dollar loan. Even though the Government pays for it, they still pay interest. But, who keeps the interest earned? Find out as this movie explores and exposes the 'shadowy elite' behind the creation of the Fed.
March 02, 2011 1:51 PM
For centuries scientists and philosophers have marveled at an eerie coincidence. Mathematics, a creation of human reason, can predict the nature of the universe, a fact physicist Eugene Wigner referred to as the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences. In the last three decades astronomers and cosmologists have noticed another, seemingly unrelated, mystery. Contrary to all expectations, the laws of physics seem precisely fine tuned for the existence of complex life.
March 01, 2011 10:51 AM
Since the dawn of time, stargazers have looked to the sky wondering if earth has had heavenly visitors. Scientists investigate ancient ruins, artifacts, and texts from around the world exploring the possibility of previous extraterrestrial visits and the plausibility of future stop overs! What other possible explanation is there for the frequent references to strange flying objects in ancient texts? Do some clues point to the presence of aliens among the ancients themselves?
March 01, 2011 10:39 AM
The Assyrians were the first people to employ a standing army, using recruits from conquered nations to put 200,000 men in the field. The Assyrians' best-known development was their use of two-wheeled chariots and cavalry.
February 28, 2011 1:11 PM
It is that the universe and all of the matter and energy out of which we are created was created in a great explosion about 15 billion years ago. This was the big bang. Most scientists will agree with this but there are a few, experts in the field, who understand that we still really donít know. Most of us are intrigued by questions to do with the origin and evolution of the universe. Where do we come from? Where are we going?
February 28, 2011 1:04 PM
At the mention of the word vampire, images of bloody fangs, dark capes, and a man with a hideous, spooky laugh immediately come to mind. From wooden stakes to garlic apotropes to ancient burial rituals, Vampire Secrets explores how this long-standing myth has been interpreted by different cultures around the world. These conventional images, born from countless vampire films over the years, are most commonly associated with Irish writer Bram Stoker and his iconic 1897 novel Dracula. However, despite the popularity and influence of this celebrated nineteenth-century tome, the vampire myth dates back more than 1,000 years, long before Stoker ever put pen to paper.
February 26, 2011 11:46 AM
Matter of Heart is a compelling portrait of Carl Gustav Jung, whose extraordinary genius and humanity reached far beyond the sometimes exclusive realm of psychiatry into redefining the essential nature of who we are and what we hope to become. More than a linear biography, the film presents a fuller perspective on this humanist, healer, friend, and mentor, through the skillful interweaving of rare home movies, valuable archival footage, and a wealth of interviews
February 26, 2011 11:35 AM