Some 70 000 years ago the human race was brought close to the edge of extinction. The reason for this, scientists tell us, was a massive volcanic eruption somewhere in the Indian Ocean-Pacific area; the resulting environmental cataclysm brought the human species down to mere 15 000 individuals; less than a tribe of Israel in the Bible. The results of that apocalypse are still felt: the natural genetic variation of the species is a minute fraction of what it was before --- but this should not be interpreted rashly. No-one claims there were four-armed, three-eyed and one-testicled human beings before the disaster (the scientists' name for it is "the Toba explosion"), or that women were sixty feet tall, or that in a fraction of mankind the men had skin patterned like those of leopards, and the women like those of zebras; no natural species has such a ludicrous range of variation. What was lost was no doubt like the variations that separated the Neanderthal from Homo Sapiens, and Homo Erectus from them both. It might have been there was no outwardly visible difference at all, between those that survived, and those that were lost.
(Note: I have it from a biologist friend that Homo Erectus is Latin for "a horny man" --- er, what? A man with horns? What deviltry is this? What legend lies there, explanation almost plain to see?)
One intriguing possibility of what these lost variations might have been is inherent in Lüge's admittedly unusual theory of the origin of speech. Gerd Hans Lüge, a German paranormalist and psychiatrist of the Sixties, formulated in 1965 the hypothesis that while Tierkommunikazion, or "animal speech", was the basis of language, it was in quality different from actual Wollabstraktspracherei. Where animals communicate to express current desires, fears and the like, no kind of Tierkommunikazion can express the relations of the self to others in abstract super- and subcausal space-time networks. This inadequacy, which he called der Heute-Morgen-Systeme, led him to conclude that telepathy, that is, communication without the intermediary of external expression, was the only way der Heute-Morgen-Systeme could be bypassed to generate the initial sympathy and empathy necessary for the expression of der Tiefgier. Where Lüge went, in my opinion, astray was in assuming this telepathic tendency was still inherent in a majority of the people; which led to the downfall of his Kopfoffenwohlbefinden-Bunkerschule, and his eventual conviction for mail fraud. But what if the telepathic gift was there in the early days of mankind, and was pruned away by the freak hand of fate? What sorrow that the no doubt most gifted and understanding tribe of man is no more.
It has also been brought to my knowledge that some people consider "70 000 years ago" a good guess for the time when Atlantis fell; but this is childish superstition, nothing more.