A supervolcano explosion about 74,000 years ago on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra caused a large-scale environmental tragedy that may have decimated Stone Age human populations in parts of the elated. But some populations, it seems, endured it unscathed.
Scientists on Monday asserted excavations at two nearby archeological sites on South Africa’s southern sea-coast turned up microscopic shards of volcanic glass from the Mount Toba explosion, which occurred about 9,000 kilometres away.
While some fact-finding indicates the eruption may have triggered a decades-long «volcanic winter» that wrecked ecosystems and deprived people of food resources, the scientists found smoking gun that the hunter-gatherers at these sites continued to thrive.
The shards were ground at a rock shelter located on a promontory called Pinnacle Point nigh the town of Mossel Bay where people lived, cooked food and slept, and at an open-air position 10 kilometres away where people fashioned tools of stone, bone and wood.
The beyond repair c destitute shelter was inhabited from 90,000 to 50,000 years ago. The researchers institute no signs of abandonment at the time of the eruption, but rather evidence of business as conventional.
«It is very possible that populations elsewhere suffered badly,» estimated paleoanthropologist Curtis Marean of Arizona State University’s Institute of Soul Origins and Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience in South Africa.
The researchers said the seaside locale may have provided a refuge, with marine food sources match shellfish less sensitive than inland plants and animals to an outburst’s environmental effects.
Mount Toba belched immense amounts of volcanic crumbs into the atmosphere to spread worldwide, dimming sunlight and potentially death many plants. It was the most powerful eruption in the past two million years and the strongest since our species outset appeared in Africa roughly 300,000 years ago.
Scientists are divided to the eruption’s impact. Some think it may have caused a human populace collapse that became a near-extinction event. Others believe its effects were inconsequential severe.
«On a regular basis through time, humans faced dire intimidations from natural disasters. As hunter-gatherers endowed with advanced cognition and a proclivity to join, we were able to make it through this disaster, and we were quite resilient,» said Marean, who led the study published in the journal Nature.
«But this may not be the example in any event now with our reliance on our highly complicated technological system. In my opinion, a volcano as if this could annihilate civilization as we know it. Are we ready?»