History remembers only a few cases when humans were facing the threat of extinction. Sometimes it was pure luck that saved our species from getting wiped out, and other times it was thanks to the determination and big brain decisions of certain individuals.
Toba Volcano Eruption
About 70 thousand years ago, the Toba volcano woke up on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Its eruption is considered one of the largest on Earth in the last 25 million years. The explosion threw enough ash into the atmosphere to block the sun for six years, which dropped the temperature on Earth by 3-6 ° C, leading to the mass extinction of animals and humans in Eurasia and Africa. According to some reports, the human population has decreased to a catastrophic 2000-5000 individuals during that period.
Smallpox first appeared about 10,000 years ago in northern Africa, gradually spreading through the ancient civilizations. It started with a headache and rash and ended with severe vomiting, loss of vision, and, in some cases, death. On average, the lethality was 30%, but for children, these numbers were much higher. Here’s a brutal fact: newborns were often not given a name until they had smallpox. Despite all the medical breakthroughs, the disease was finally eradicated only in 1980. In the 20th century, this thing killed anywhere from 300 to 500 million people.