Earliest Homo floresiensis fossils found at Mata Menge
The diminutive Homo floresiensis hominins, popularly referred to as the Flores hobbits, are thought to be descended from normally-sized hominins who underwent a phenomenon known as ‘insular dwarfism’ after they reached Flores. Food shortages combined with an absence of dangerous predators meant that smaller individuals, with lower calorific requirements, were at an advantage and over many generations the entire population ‘downsized’. Continue reading
Homo floresiensis extinct by 50,000 years ago
A new study published in Nature has suggested that Homo floresiensis became extinct much earlier than originally reported. The type specimen LB 1, recovered from Late Pleistocene sediments at Liang Bua, Flores in 2004 was claimed to be 18,000 years old, with other remains and associated stone tools dating from 74,000 to 95,000 years old. The dates were inferred from radiocarbon, thermoluminescence, uranium series and electron spin resonance dates on associated sedimentary material. No direct dates were obtained from the remains themselves for fear of damaging them. However, some authorities were dubious that the ‘hobbits’ could have survived for so long after modern humans reached Southeast Asia. Continue reading
Study confirms that Flores hominins are not Homo sapiens
Since their headline-making discovery in 2003, the diminutive hominins from the Indonesian island of Flores have been generally accepted to be a distinctive human species, Homo floresiensis. Popularly referred to as ‘hobbits’, they are widely believed that they owe their small size to a phenomenon known as ‘insular dwarfism’. In the absence of dangerous predators and in a habitat where food is scarce, it was suggested that they ‘downsized’ from their ancestral condition as evolution favoured smaller, less ‘gas-guzzling’ individuals. The ancestral species is often claimed to be Homo erectus, but claims have also been made for more primitive hominins such as Homo habilis or even Australopithecus. Continue reading
Dental study rejects modern human or earlier hominin connection with Homo floresiensis
The origin of the diminutive ‘hobbits’ of Flores, Indonesia have been controversial since they were announced as a new human species, Homo floresiensis, in 2003. The most widely accepted view is that they are descended from a group of Homo erectus that reached Flores at least a million years ago and underwent a phenomenon known as insular dwarfism whereby a combination of low risk of predators and a relative scarcity of food means that smaller individuals are favoured from an evolutionary point of view and thus individuals within a population will ‘downsize’ over the course of many generations. Continue reading
New papers revive ‘hobbit’ controversy
The announcement in 2003 that dwarf hominins had been discovered at Liang Bua Cave on the Indonesian island of Flores was one of the major news stories of that year. The type specimen, LB1, a female inevitably dubbed ‘Flo’ had lived had lived just 18,000 years ago at a time when all archaic hominins were believed to be long extinct. Estimated to have been around thirty years old at the time of her death, ‘Flo’ stood just 1.06 m (3 ft. 6 in.) tall, weighed 16 and 36 kg (35 and 79 lb), and had an estimated cranial capacity of just 380 cc, comparable to that of an australopithecine.
Did ‘hobbit people’ of Flores evolve from Homo erectus or a more primitive hominin?
Homo floresiensis is an extinct Late Pleistocene hominin species known only from the Indonesian island of Flores. The type specimen LB 1 is a diminutive 30-year-old female who stood just 1.06 m (3 ft. 6 in.) tall. Nicknamed ‘Flo’, she had a cranial capacity initially estimated to be just 380 cc, comparable to that of an australopithecine. Her weight was estimated to be somewhere between 16 and 36 kg (35 and 79 lb.). Yet she was apparently human: she lacked the large back teeth of an australopithecine, the proportions of her facial skeleton were those of a human, and she appeared to be a humanlike fully-committed biped (Brown, et al., 2004; Morwood, et al., 2004).