Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Have we as a species faced extinction in the past? Resulting in a 'population bottleneck'? If so, what genetic evidence is there of this occurring?

share|improve this question
up vote 13 down vote accepted

There is ample genetic evidence for a population bottleneck following the out-of-Africa migration. This would account for the reduced genetic diversity found in non-African populations.

There is further evidence for an earlier major bottleneck that reduced the human population to around 10,000 individuals.

These kinds of studies are typically done now via Coalescent theory using whole-genome sequences.

I just found this nice blog post summarizing the Nature paper I linked to.

share|improve this answer
Excellent information! I am also intrigued as to what caused these bottlenecks. I used to follow the notion that an eruption of the supervolcano Toba, Indonesia caused an almost extinction bottleneck - but it seems that this is not the case anymore. – user3795 Jul 22 '13 at 7:34

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.