Prehistoric human population estimates vary sometimes widely among anthropologists but most agree that the average lifespan was about 20 years for those hominids living on the African savanna 4 mya to 200 kya. If this estimate is correct then it would mean that hominid populations renewed approximately 5 times per century. That is assuming that the infant mortality rate is already accounted for in this estimate.
Populations tend to fluctuate. They are not stagnant. Fluctuation in birth rates and mortality rates affect population size as do climatic factors and other factors. Due to such factors it has been estimated that hominid population numbers in Africa fluctuated anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 individuals at any one time but most likely only averaging about 50,000 individuals at any one time.
That said here’s some interesting numbers regarding ancient human ancestors the I find interesting. Let me begin with population estimates during our present period of “history” which I am defining here as being from 10,000 BC to 2017 AD.
Ok this is all fine and well for Historical period but what about PREHISTORY? Generally, anything older than 10,000 BC is considered prehistory which also happens to be about when the last glacial period on this planet ended although some believe that was around 12,000 BC. You can see from the chart above that in 10,000 BC the human population was about 2 million but some researchers put it lower at 1 million.
We are currently in the geological period known as the Holocene which began about 10,000 BC marked by the end of the last glacial maximum. Prior to that we were in the Upper Paleolithic period which began around 50 kya up to 10,000 BC. Since 10,000 BC we have had what is known as “civilization” but prior to that, roughly, most humans were hunter-gatherers and many were also nomadic. Continue Reading