Toba catastrophe theory  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Toba supereruption (Youngest Toba Tuff or simply YTT) occurred between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago at Lake Toba (Sumatra, Indonesia), and it is recognized as one of Earth's largest known eruptions. The related catastrophe theory holds that this supervolcanic event plunged the planet into a 6 to 10 year volcanic winter, which resulted in the world's human population being reduced to 10,000 or even a mere 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a bottleneck in human evolution. Some researchers argue that the Toba eruption produced not only a catastrophic volcanic winter but also an additional 1,000-year cooling episode.

The Toba event is the most closely studied supereruption. In 1993, science journalist Ann Gibbons first suggested a link between the eruption and a bottleneck in human evolution. Michael R. Rampino of New York University and Stephen Self of the University of Hawaii at Manoa quickly lent their support to the idea. The theory was further developed in 1998 by Stanley H. Ambrose of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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