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10 Times Humanity Came Way Too Close To Total Extinction

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Hoidap Lagi

Consider yourself lucky: in your lifetime you've probably lived through a few disasters that almost wiped out life on earth, even if you didn't realize it at the time.

Here are 10 times humans, as a species, almost bit the dust:

1. The Spanish Flu

As World War 1 was drawing to a close, a pair of deadly H1N1 pandemics began spreading around the world. The large number of people moving from place to place helped the disease spread, until it was recorded everywhere from remote islands in the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Circle.

More then 500 million people around the globe caught the virus, and somewhere between 50 and 100 million died from it - that means 3-6% of the planet's population were wiped out in only 2 years. Life expectancy in the U.S. alone dropped by 12 years during the flu.

2. Stanislav Petrov's Close Call

A  Soviet officer name Stanislav Petrov was working at a command center for the government's early-warning nuclear defense system on September 26, 1983 when he saw an unusual alert. His computer said the U.S. had launched a nuclear missile at Russia.

Stanislav was convinced that it was a false alarm, and his doubt is the only thing that stopped the Soviets from launching a counterattack that could have torn the world apart. The false alarm was later blamed on sunlight reflecting off high-altitude clouds.

3. The Toba Eruption

70,000 years ago, a massive super volcano in Indonesia's Lake Toba erupted, spreading enough ash into the atmosphere to cool the entire planet for up to 10 years.

Some experts believe this disaster almost wiped human beings off the face of the earth. Research suggests as few as 3,000 people living in Africa may have survived the long volcanic winter. While these theories are inconclusive, they may explain why modern humans are all so closely related.

4. The Bonilla Comet

In 1883, an astronomer named José Bonilla saw more than 300 dark objects passing in front of the sun, and recorded the weird sighting with photographs. For decades no one could explain exactly what Bonilla had seen, but a few years ago scientists offered a disturbing answer to the mystery.

Researchers at Mexico's National Autonomous University believe the objects were fragments of a massive comet passing dangerously close to earth. The object could have weighed as much as a billion tonnes, enough to wipe out all life as we know it on earth, and it passed less than 800km away from our planet.

Think that's scary? Another near miss happened in 2012.

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