Researchers studied stone tools at an archaeological site in India from 80,000 years ago which showed that people continuously lived in the area. The discovery has raised important questions about the human race’s migration into east Asia and Australia. Mount Toba is a supervolcano on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Its caldera – a volcanic crater – forms what is now Lake Toba which is the largest crater lake in the world.
After its eruption, it is thought that there was a volcanic winter which saw temperatures plummet for years.
The eruption was the biggest on Earth in at least two million years.
The devastating eruption also coincided with early human migration out of Africa and into Asia.
Scientists have been fascinated by how the volcano impacted people at the time.
It was thought that the eruption would have wiped out humans that had made it that far and pushed mankind’s migration to the east.
It is also thought that the volcano created a bottleneck in east Africa and India, with others believing that it almost pushed humans to extinction.
However, evidence also suggests that this is not the case at all.
In 2017, researchers found that evidence shows humans were actually present on Sunatra between 73,000 and 63,000 years ago, just after the volcano erupted.
Another study found that humans in South Africa were thriving during that time following the eruption.
Humans are believed to have left Africa in multiple waves around 175,000 years ago.
It is thought humans left northern Africa and then travelled to the Middle East before their paths were split.
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One group headed to Europe while the other went to Asia.
Humans then travelled through India and into Thailand before then going all the way to Indonesia and Australia around 65,000 years ago.
A new study published in Nature Communications by Chris Clarkson and researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia analysed stone tools found at a site in Dhaba, in the Middle Son River Valley, Central India.
Lead author of the study identifying humans in Sumatra at the time of the Toba eruption from Macquarie University in Australia, Kira Westaway – who was not involved in the latest research – commented on the findings.
She told Newsweek: “The Toba super-eruption has long been a milestone in the Asian archaeological record as research in this region tends to position itself around this event. Were humans there before it? Did they persevere through it? Did they survive after it?
“Many sites have claimed to have evidence for human survival through this eruption event but none at this location in the epicentre of the event nor on this timescale—an 80,000 year record of human presence right through ‘the eye of the storm.’
“This brings up so many new questions—how did they survive? Was the eruption not as catastrophic as first thought?
“Were humans more adapted to survive large events than we give them credit?”
She also said that the results provide evidence of timing and technology that supports the idea of an early exit from Africa and early arrival in Australia.
She added that the paper “connects the dots between India, southeast Asia and Australia for modern human dispersal.”
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