Around 75,000 years ago, something very odd happened. Genetic diversity imploded, the population bottlenecked and suddenly most species of Homo whathaveyou vanished like the daughter from the first season of Family Matters.
The prevailing explanation is the Toba catastrophe theory, which posits that a supervolcano erupted near Lake Toba in Sumatra. The Toba eruption created an explosion of around 2,000 megatons (more than 150,000 Hiroshima bombs). That's the sort of thing Michael Bay would shoot if you locked him in a windowless box for a year and then gave him a bucket of meth and the GDP of Australia.
The cloud of ash pulled the same trick as the K-T disaster, obscuring the sun and plunging the planet into a volcanic winter. The global temperature dropped up to 10 degrees, which is mind-boggling given that climatologists lose their shit over one and two degree shifts.
Oh, and before you consider nuking Yellowstone National Park to fix global warming, let's consider the effects of the eruption on the human species.
The Toba blast is the reason Homo erectus isn't at your family reunion--the ensuing havoc resulted in the extinction of every member of the Homo genus save Neanderthals and modern man. Homo sapiens didn't escape unscathed, though--the blast may have reduced the human population to approximately 10,000 people.
Ten. Thousand. People. In comparison, Wrigley Field holds around 40,000 fans. After the Toba event, the entirety of mankind, all the remaining humans in all the world, could be consigned to the bleacher section.
Ten thousand. Wrap your head around that figure. Some geneticists even speculate that the population dropped to 5,000--a figure roughly equal to the seating capacity of 12 747s. The Toba event was the closest the human species has ever come to extinction, and we had yet to move past relieving our bowels in public. It would have been an ignominious way to go.
And how did humans rebound from such a supervolcanic drubbing? The same way we got through all of these apocalypses: good old-fashioned fucking.
Saving the human race since 73,000 BC.
For more on the apocalypse, check out The 6 Best 2012 Apocalypse Theories (Are All Bullshit). Or find out what's worse than going extinct, in 6 Formerly Kickass Creatures Ruined by Evolution.
Or stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see why Brockway might bring about the next plague (it's because he doesn't wipe).