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Homo Floresiensis ('Hobbits'; Small Archaic Humans)

'Hobbit' Skull Study Finds Hobbit Is Not Human
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 144508.htm

The 3-D landmarks superimposed from the front of the LB1 Skull of Homo floresiensis, also known as the Hobbit, helped researchers conclude that the fossil is not human. (Credit: P. Brown)ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2009) — In a an analysis of the size, shape and asymmetry of the cranium of Homo floresiensis, Karen Baab, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Anatomical Scienes at Stony Brook University, and colleagues conclude that the fossil, found in Indonesia in 2003 and known as the “Hobbit,” is not human.

They used 3-D shape analysis to study the LB1 skull of the hobbit and found the shape of the skull to be consistent with a scaled down human ancestor but not modern humans. Their findings, reported in the current online edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, add to the evidence that the hobbit is a new species.

The question as to whether the hobbit was human or another species remains controversial. Some scientists claim the hobbit was a diminutive human that suffered from some type of disease that causes microcephaly, which results in abnormal growth of the brain and causes the cranium to be much smaller than the normal human cranium. But Dr. Baab and co-author Kieran McNulty, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, believe their findings counter the microcephaly theory.

“A skull can provide researchers with a lot of important information about a fossil species, particularly regarding their evolutionary relationships to other fossil species,” explains Dr. Baab. “The overall shape of the LB1 skull, particularly the part that surrounds the brain (neurocranium) looks similar to fossils more than 1.5 million years older from Africa and Eurasia, rather than modern humans, even though Homo floresiensis is documented from 17,000 to 95,000 years ago.”

To carry out the study, Dr. Baab and colleagues collected 3D landmark data on the LB1 skull and a large sample of fossils representing other extinct hominin species, as well as a comparative sample of modern humans and apes. They performed several analyses of different regions of the skulls. Taken together, these analyses indicated that the LB1 skull shape is that of a scaled down Homo fossil not a scaled down modern human.

The results of the analysis of the asymmetry of the skulls, which refers to differences between the right and left sides of the skull, refutes the suggestion that the LB1 skull was that of a modern human with a diagnosis of microcephaly. In modern humans, a high degree of asymmetry may indicate that the individual was diseased. At least one scientific study on the asymmetry of LB1 supported the argument that this individual had microcephaly. Conversely, Dr. Baab and colleagues found the degree of asymmetry of the LB1 skull was not unexpectedly high and therefore not supportive of the diagnosis of microcephaly.

“The degree of asymmetry in LB1 was within the range of apes and was very similar to that seen in other fossil skulls,” says Dr. Baab. “We suggest that the degree of asymmetry is within expectations for this population of hominins, particular given that the conditions of the cave in Indonesia in which the skull was preserved may have contributed to asymmetry.”

Dr. Baab recognizes that the controversy as to the evolutionary origins of Homo floresiensis will continue, perhaps without an answer. However, all the evidence that she and colleagues illustrate in their article “Size, shape, and asymmetry in fossil hominins: The status of the LB1cranium based on 3D morphometric analyses,” suggest that Homo floresiensis was most likely the diminutive descendant of a species of archaic Homo.

The results of this study are also in line with what other researchers in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University have found regarding the rest of the hobbit skeleton. Drs. William Jungers and Susan Larson have documented a range of primitive features in both the upper and lower limbs of Homo floresiensis, highlighting the many ways that these hominins were unlike modern humans.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009 19:04

Hobbits 'are a separate species'

Scientists have found more evidence that the Indonesian "Hobbit" skeletons belong to a new species of human - and not modern pygmies.

The 3ft (one metre) tall, 30kg (65lbs) humans roamed the Indonesian island of Flores, perhaps up to 8,000 years ago.

Since the discovery, researchers have argued vehemently as to the identity of these diminutive people.

Two papers in the journal Nature now support the idea they were an entirely new species of human.

The team, which discovered the tiny remains in Liang Bua cave on Flores, contends that the population belongs to the species Homo floresiensis - separate from our own grouping Homo sapiens .

They argue that the "Hobbits" are descended from a prehistoric species of human - perhaps Homo erectus - which reached island South-East Asia more than a million years ago.

Over many years, their bodies most likely evolved to be smaller in size, through a natural selection process called island dwarfing, claim the discoverers, and many other scientists.

However, some researchers argued that this could not account for the Hobbit's chimp-sized brain of almost 400 cubic cm - a third the size of the modern human brain.

Disease theory

This was a puzzle, they said, because the individuals seem to have crafted complex stone tools.

They said the Hobbits were probably part of a group of modern humans with abnormally small brains.

One team led by William Jungers from Stony Brook University in the US analysed remains of the Hobbit foot.

They found that, in some ways, it is incredibly human. The big toe is aligned with the others and the joints make it possible to extend the toes as the body's full weight falls on the foot, attributes not found in great apes.

But in other respects, it is incredibly primitive. It is far longer than its modern human equivalent, and equipped with a very small big toe, long, curved lateral toes, and a weight-bearing structure that resembles that of a chimpanzee.

So unless the Flores Hobbits became more primitive over time - a rather unlikely scenario - they must have branched off the human line at an even earlier date.

In another study, Eleanor Weston and Adrian Lister of London's Natural History Museum looked at fossils of several species of ancient hippos. They then compared those found on the island of Madagascar with the mainland ancestors from which they evolved.

"It could be that H. floresiensis' skull is that of a Homo erectus that has become dwarfed from living on an island, rather than being an abnormal individual or separately-evolved species, as has been suggested," said Dr Weston, a palaeontologist at the museum.

"Looking at pygmy hippos in Madagascar, which possess exceptionally small brains for their size, suggests that the same could be true for H. floresiensis , and that (it could be) the result of being isolated on the island."

BBC Article
'Hobbits' Are a New Human Species, According to Statistical Analysis of Fossils
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 101034.htm

New statistical analysis confirms that the recently discovered human-like "hobbit" -- Homo floresiensis -- is a genuine ancient human species and not a descendant of healthy humans dwarfed by disease. (Credit: Image courtesy of Wiley-Blackwell)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2009) — Researchers from Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York have confirmed that Homo floresiensis is a genuine ancient human species and not a descendant of healthy humans dwarfed by disease. Using statistical analysis on skeletal remains of a well-preserved female specimen, researchers determined the "hobbit" to be a distinct species and not a genetically flawed version of modern humans.

Details of the study appear in the December issue of Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society, published by Wiley-Blackwell.

In 2003 Australian and Indonesian scientists discovered small-bodied, small-brained, hominin (human-like) fossils on the remote island of Flores in the Indonesian archipelago. This discovery of a new human species called Homo floresiensis has spawned much debate with some researchers claiming that the small creatures are really modern humans whose tiny head and brain are the result of a medical condition called microcephaly.

Researchers William Jungers, Ph.D., and Karen Baab, Ph.D. studied the skeletal remains of a female (LB1), nicknamed "Little Lady of Flores" or "Flo" to confirm the evolutionary path of the hobbit species. The specimen was remarkably complete and included skull, jaw, arms, legs, hands, and feet that provided researchers with integrated information from an individual fossil.

The cranial capacity of LB1 was just over 400 cm, making it more similar to the brains of a chimpanzee or bipedal "ape-men" of East and South Africa. The skull and jawbone features are much more primitive looking than any normal modern human. Statistical analysis of skull shapes show modern humans cluster together in one group, microcephalic humans in another and the hobbit along with ancient hominins in a third.

Due to the relative completeness of fossil remains for LB1, the scientists were able to reconstruct a reliable body design that was unlike any modern human. The thigh bone and shin bone of LB1 are much shorter than modern humans including Central African pygmies, South African KhoeSan (formerly known as 'bushmen") and "negrito" pygmies from the Andaman Islands and the Philippines. Some researchers speculate this could represent an evolutionary reversal correlated with "island dwarfing." "It is difficult to believe an evolutionary change would lead to less economical movement," said Dr. Jungers. "It makes little sense that this species re-evolved shorter thighs and legs because long hind limbs improve bipedal walking. We suspect that these are primitive retentions instead."

Further analysis of the remains using a regression equation developed by Dr. Jungers indicates that LB1 was approximately 106 cm tall (3 feet, 6 inches) -- far smaller than the modern pygmies whose adults grow to less than 150 cm (4 feet, 11 inches). A scatterplot depicts LB1 far outside the range of Southeast Asian and African pygmies in both absolute height and body mass indices. "Attempts to dismiss the hobbits as pathological people have failed repeatedly because the medical diagnoses of dwarfing syndromes and microcephaly bear no resemblance to the unique anatomy of Homo floresiensis," noted Dr. Baab.
I'm not sure statistical analysis is quite the way to prove they're a separate species. It's certainly not going to convince the pro-microcephaly crowd, since they claim they're diseased pygmies, and no doubt that is enough to explain the outlier status.

It's interesting, but hardly the iron-clad case they claim. Taken in concert with the other evidence, though, it does shore up the case for H. Floresiensis as a separate species.
It strikes me that, if it weren't for the tools, the skeletal features of these specimens would be interpreted as more apelike than humanlike. The association with tools, however, is leading conservative researchers to exagerrate the human traits and excuse the apelike ones; if a reason is found to disassociate the tools from the skeletons, will they continue to insist on these (IMHO rather strained) similarities and suddenly conclude that it was an ape all along?

My emotional attachment to the idea of a separate species of humans existing alongside us for awhile is straightforward enough and I'll admit it without a qualm. Those who insist on Flora being a bizarre deformity of sapiens seem to have an equal and opposite emotional attachment - but based on what? You don't have to do much research into the matter to understand that our lonesomeness on the planet is of relatively recent development. So why is it such a huge leap for these people? In a fundamentalist Judeo-Christian, I'd understand it; in a scientist, I don't.
I'm a bit puzzled on how you can do statistical analysis on just one sample :?
It's not an analysis of one sample. Apart from the multiple finds in the cave (although only one was near complete, the height of each individual can be estimated from what they did find), the analysis is actually of the whole of modern humanity in its various forms.

In such analysis, assuming they are such, the "Hobbits" are outliers to an extent that suggests they don't fit in.

However, you are right in that the mere fact that one smallish, isolated population is such an outlier does not automatically preclude them being modern humans. I'm rather more convinced by the other skeletal evidence (the wrist bones, etc) that look to be from an earlier species than H. Sapiens.
Is the Hobbit's brain unfeasibly small?
January 27th, 2010 in Biology / Evolution

These are the skulls of Homo floresiensis (left) and Homo sapiens (right). Credit: Professor Peter Brown, University of New England

(PhysOrg.com) -- The commonly held assumption that as primates evolved, their brains always tended to get bigger has been challenged by a team of scientists at Cambridge and Durham. Their work helps solve the mystery of whether Homo floresiensis - dubbed the Hobbit due to its diminutive stature - was a separate human species or a diseased individual.

The team combined previously published datasets of brain and body mass with measurements from fossil remains. They then used three different mathematical methods to reconstruct patterns of brain evolution across the primate family tree from these 37 existing and 23 extinct primate species.

The results show that while brains evolved to be larger in both relative and absolute terms along most branches of the primate family tree, the opposite happened along several lineages. For example brain size shrank during the evolution of Mouse Lemurs, Marmosets and Mangabeys.

In contrast, the study found no overall trend to increase body size, suggesting that brain and body mass have been subject to separate selection pressures in primates.

Gorillas, for example, have large brains but the increase in body mass during the evolution of modern gorillas greatly exceeds the increase in brain mass. Conversely, lineages leading to other primates, such as Gibbons and Colobus monkeys show an increase in brain mass but a decrease in body mass.

The findings may help solve the mystery of "the Hobbit" or Homo floresiensis. This metre-high early human species shared the planet with our species until 13,000 years ago. Its discovery on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 sparked a long-running debate, some scientists arguing that it was a new human species while others believed disease was more likely to be responsible for its small size.

According to co-author Stephen Montgomery of the University of Cambridge: "The discovery challenged our understanding of human evolution and created much debate about whether H. floresiensis was a distinct species or a diseased individual."

"Much of the debate about the place of H. floresiensis in the primate tree is centered around its small size, in particular the small brain size. The argument raised has been that the evolution of such a small brain does not fit with what we know about primate brain evolution.

"Our analysis, together with studies of brain size in island populations of living primates, suggests we should perhaps not be surprised by the evolution of a small brained, small bodied early human species."

The findings also deepen our understanding of how our brains and bodies have evolved and the selection pressures that may have been responsible. The results show that selection has acted in both directions, usually resulting in evolution of bigger brains but also producing smaller ones.

This is the first study to reconstruct the pattern of brain evolution across all primates. Previous studies by other researchers have looked at possible advantages and disadvantages of increased brain size in primates, but few consider how often, when, or where in the primate family tree these changes have happened.

According to lead author Dr Nick Mundy of the University of Cambridge: "A trend towards brain expansion is assumed to have occurred throughout primate evolution. This has been interpreted as an indication of selection for cognitive abilities due, for example, to 'arms races' in the ability to process social information."

"We found decreases in brain mass along several branches across the primate family tree. It is likely that reductions in brain size occurred to meet demands of the species' changing ecological needs meaning that sometimes individuals with smaller brains are favoured by natural selection."

"Periods of primate evolution which show decreases in brain size are of great interest as they may yield insights into the selective pressures and developmental constraints acting on brain size."

Primates have relatively large brains for their body size compared with other mammals. The world's smallest primate brain belongs to the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), whose brain weighs just 1.8g (half as much as a UK one penny piece). The heaviest primate brain belongs to humans, weighing in at 1330g.

Brain expansion began early in primate evolution, suggesting brain expansion had a significant role in the origin and success of modern primates. Absolute brain mass is striking in humans but large brains have evolved several times in primates - for example Capuchins are South American monkeys which rival apes in terms of relative brain size. Indeed in the wild some populations of Capuchins are known to use tools to exploit novel food resources.

Recent studies show brain size decreased in other vertebrate lines, including birds, bats and elephants, as well as the cow and hippo families.

The research is published this week in BMC Biology.

Provided by University of Cambridge
How a hobbit is rewriting the history of the human race
The discovery of the bones of tiny primitive people on an Indonesian island six years ago stunned scientists. Now, further research suggests that the little apemen, not Homo erectus, were the first to leave Africa and colonise other parts of the world, reports Robin McKie

It remains one of the greatest human fossil discoveries of all time. The bones of a race of tiny primitive people, who used stone tools to hunt pony-sized elephants and battle huge Komodo dragons, were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004.

The team of Australian researchers had been working in a vast limestone cavern, called Liang Bua, in one of the island's remotest areas, when one scientist ran his trowel against a piece of bone. Carefully the group began scraping away the brown clay in which pieces of a tiny skull, and a little lower jaw, were embedded.

This was not any old skull, they quickly realised. Although small, it had special characteristics. In particular, it had adult teeth. "This was no child, but a tiny adult; in fact, one of the smallest adult hominids ever found in the fossil record," says Mike Morwood, of Australia's University of Wollongong and a leader of the original Flores expedition team.

The pieces of bone were carefully wrapped in newspaper, packed in cardboard boxes and then cradled on the laps of scientists on their journey, by ferry and plane, back to Jakarta. Then the pieces of skull, as well as bones from other skeletons found in Liang Bua, were put together.

The end result caused consternation. These remains came from a species that turned out to be only three feet tall and had the brain the size of an orange. Yet it used quite sophisticated stone tools. And that was a real puzzle. How on earth could such individuals have made complex implements and survived for aeons on this remote part of the Malay archipelago?

Some simply dismissed the bones as the remains of deformed modern humans with diseases that had caused them to shrink: to them, they were just pathological oddities, it was alleged. Most researchers disagreed, however. The hobbits were the descendants of a race of far larger, ancient humans who had thrived around a million years ago. These people, known as Homo erectus, had become stranded on the island and then had shrunk in an evolutionary response to the island's limited resources.

That is odd enough. However, new evidence suggests the little folk of Flores may be even stranger in origin. According to a growing number of scientists, Homo floresiensis is probably a direct descendant of some of the first apemen to evolve on the African savannah three million years ago. These primitive hominids somehow travelled half a world from their probable birthplace in the Rift Valley to make their homes among the orangutans, giant turtles and rare birds of Indonesia before eventually reaching Flores.

It sounds improbable but the basic physical similarity between the two species is striking. Consider Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old member of Australopithecus afarensis. She had a very small brain, primitive wrists, feet and teeth and was only one metre tall, but was still declared "the grandmother of humanity" after her discovery in Ethiopia in 1974. Crucially, analysis of Lucy's skeleton shows it has great similarities with the bones of H. floresiensis, although her species died out millions of years ago while the hobbits hung on in Flores until about 17,000 years ago. This latter figure is staggeringly close in terms of recent human evolution and indicates that long after the Neanderthals, our closest evolutionary relatives, had disappeared from the face of the Earth around 35,000 years ago, these tiny, distant relatives of Homo sapiens were still living on remote Flores.

The crucial point about this interpretation is that it explains why the Flores people had such minuscule proportions. They didn't shrink but were small from the start – because they came from a very ancient lineage of little apemen. They acquired no diseased deformities, nor did they evolve a smaller stature over time. They were, in essence, an anthropological relic and Flores was an evolutionary time capsule. In research that provides further support for this idea, scientists have recently dated some stone tools on Flores as being around 1.1 million years old, far older than had been previously supposed.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/ ... human-race
'Hobbit' island's deeper history

By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News

Stone flakes (A Brumm)
A range of stone flakes were found (scale-bar: 10mm)

Long before a 'hobbit' species of human lived on Indonesia's Flores island, other human-like creatures colonised the area. That much was clear.

But scientists have now been able to date their presence to at least one million years ago - some 120,000 years earlier than previously recognised.

The team reports the discovery of these humans' tools in the journal Nature.

The group says the finds bring a new dimension to our understanding of the history of Flores.

Lead author Adam Brumm told BBC News that the location and circumstances of the tools' preservation meant human occupation of the island could extend deep into the past.

"What's really exciting about this is that we effectively have no idea how long hominids have been on Flores," the University of Wollongong, Australia, said.
Hobbit and modern human (P Brown)
The hobbit (left) pictured next to the skull of a modern human

The remains of the hobbit, known to science as Homo floresiensis, were discovered five years ago at Liang Bua cave.

The diminutive creature's unearthing was a sensation because it indicated a separate human species was living alongside us just 18,000 years ago.

Flores has witnessed intensive paleontological investigation ever since.

The famous H. floresiensis cave is located in the west of the island. The new discoveries come from the Soa Basin, an area in central-west Flores.

A dig site there, known as Mata Menge, had already revealed tools dated to 880,000 years ago. Now, just 500m away but much deeper in the sediments, an international team has identified even older artefacts.

The site, referred to as Wolo Sege, has yielded more than 40 stone flakes. These were hand tools, probably used to butcher meat among other tasks.
Dig site (A Brumm)
The dig site at Wolo Sege is in central-west Flores

Many show evidence of being swept along in a stream before being laid down. Critically, however, their burial is capped by a layer of volcanic ash that has been accurately dated to just over one million years ago.

The scientists can say nothing about who used these tools. There is an insufficient number at this stage to assess which culture produced them. But their mere discovery raises some interesting issues.

For example, the Mata Menge discoveries are associated with the disappearance in the deposition record of a number of animal species, such as a pygmy elephant and a giant tortoise. The conclusion that had been drawn from their extinction was that human hunters arriving on the island had hunted them out of existence.
Flores map

But the Wolo Sege findings put a new perspective on this story because they show humans must have been living side by side with the animals for at least 120,000 years.

Brumm and colleagues tell Nature that it may be difficult to find artefacts in the Soa Basin that are older than the Wolo Sege flakes. The reason is that the tools were lying just on top of what is the rock base in the area (the flank of a volcano).

"Anything inside that bedrock, or within any layers we identify in the bedrock, if they contain stone tools they must be at least 1.86 million years old," said Dr Brumm.

"So, a priority for further research this year is to do a more intensive survey throughout the basin and follow up these bedrock outcrops."

The notion that Flores may have a very deep history of occupation will feed into the debate over H. floresiensis' origins.

Many scientists believe the creature evolved from a much larger-bodied species, Homo erectus, that became isolated and shrunk over time. Others point to features in the hobbit's body - such as the length its feet to the shape of its shoulder girdle - that are very primitive and not what one would expect in dwarfed H. erectus.

These researchers have put forward the idea that H. floresiensis may have evolved from more archaic creatures that left Africa to colonise Asia even before erectus.

"Our discovery at Wolo Sege will certainly open the door to this contentious theory," said Dr Brumm.

[email protected].
Study backs 'hobbit' island dwarfism theory

A diminutive species of human whose remains were found on the Indonesian island of Flores could have shrunk as a result of island dwarfism as it adapted to its environment.
A study of the remains of the creature, nicknamed the "hobbit", shows that it is possible for it to have been a dwarf version of an early human species.
The hobbit co-existed with our species until 12,000 years ago.
The research has been published in the Royal Society's Proceedings B Journal.

Since its discovery in 2003, researchers have struggled to explain the origins of these metre high, tiny-brained people, known scientifically as Homo floresiensis.

One popular theory is that the hobbit evolved from a relatively large brained and large bodied human that was prevalent in east Asia, known as Homo erectus. The theory is that after H. erectus moved to Flores, it began to shrink in size over the generations by a process known as island dwarfism, which has been seen to occur in other species.
Critics though argue that it would be impossible for erectus's brain to shrink so much in relation to its body.

Alternative theories are that these creatures are either a small group of modern humans, Homo sapiens, whose brains and bodies have been prevented from growing normally because of a wasting disease, or that they are descendants of tiny-brained ape-like creatures.

New scans by a Japanese team which includes Dr Yousuke Kaifu of the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, shows that the hobbit's brain was a little larger than previous estimates had suggested.
Moreover, Dr Kaifu and his colleagues have also carried out a comparative analysis of the ratio of brain to body size of present-day humans which they say indicates that it is indeed possible for erectus's brain to have shrunk to the size of the hobbit's.

"Our work does not prove that erectus is the ancestor of floresiensis," Dr Kaifu told BBC News. "But what we have shown is that it is possible (and counters the argument) by many people that floresiensis's brain is too small to (be consistent with the view that it is a dwarf form of erectus)"

Dr Kaifu's analysis backs an earlier study of the hobbit's brain cases by Prof Dean Falk of Florida State University in 2005 and 2007. She concluded that the hobbit was a separate human species. She told BBC News that she believed that the Japanese researchers have "nailed it".
"The authors make a compelling case that H. floresiensis could be descended from an early Homo erectus population," she said. "With all the hoopla surrounding floresiensis, this rigorous analysis is most welcome."

Prof Falk said that she did not believe that the Japanese analysis excluded the alternative hypothesis of an as-yet-undiscovered small-brained ape-like ancestor that migrated from Africa. That was a view echoed by Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.
"Personally I don't think it solves the problem," he told BBC News. "There are primitive features in the skeleton of floresiensis which for me suggests that it comes from quite a primitive form of human: one that may have been around two million years ago rather than one million years ago".

Professor Stringer said that the debate over floresiensis is part of a much wider discussion among scientists in the field which is resulting in a new and exciting retelling of the story of how humans emerged.
"It is a fascinating find because it shows that human evolution took a number of twists and turns. It isn't just about the evolution of us modern humans, but actually there are lots of other species around".
"Floresiensis was a failed experiment that lasted to within the last 50,000 years or so and we are the last survivors of all these other experiments in evolving humans".

The diminutive human species nicknamed "the Hobbit" is older than previously recognised, scientists now say.

The discovery of Homo floresiensis in 2003 caused a sensation because it seemed the creature could have been alive in the quite recent past.

But a new analysis indicates the little hominin probably went extinct at least 50,000 years ago - not the 12,000 years ago initially thought to be the case.

Researchers report their revised assessment in the journal Nature.

Prof Bert Roberts, from the University of Wollongong, Australia, says the revised dating actually resolves what had always been a head-scratcher: how it was possible for floresiensis to survive for 30,000 to 40,000 years after modern humans are believed to have passed through Indonesia.

"Well, it now seems we weren't living alongside this little species for very long, if at all. And once again it smells of modern humans having a role in the downfall of yet another pieces," he told BBC News. ...

This case really challenges the 'definitive' tree of human evolution. I tend towards the initial theory that the Flores discoveries can be ascribed to a very limited set of microcephalic individuals rather than a colony of diminutive species homo. However, if they represent anything in the tree of human life, it is an offshoot specialised to its environment. Remarkable if proven. Fascinating, whatever the final analysis.
Hobbits died out earlier than thought
Tiny hominids disappeared from their island about same time Homo sapiensappeared in the region


Obviously though none f these dates are set in stone, and I have read another thread somewhere which cast doubt on the article.

Funny really, that Mike Morwood thought that they might have 'lived on into the colonial era'. I've never thought though that the Hobbits lent any particular weight to the stories of the Ebu gogo.
Hobbits died out earlier than thought
Tiny hominids disappeared from their island about same time Homo sapiensappeared in the region


Obviously though none f these dates are set in stone, and I have read another thread somewhere which cast doubt on the article.

Funny really, that Mike Morwood thought that they might have 'lived on into the colonial era'. I've never thought though that the Hobbits lent any particular weight to the stories of the Ebu gogo.

Some claim it may have survived until recently, a possible Fortean mystery? Well weight the evidences yourself. By the way the 1st video also shows an interesting frog.

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Flores fossil discovery provides clues to 'hobbit' ancestors
Researchers find what appears to be predecessors of tiny humans whose bones were first unearthed on Indonesian island in 2004
Ian Sample Science editor
Wednesday 8 June 2016 18.00 BST

More than a decade ago, researchers in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores unearthed the bones of an ancient race of tiny humans. Now, in sandstone laid down by a stream 700,000 years ago, they have found what appear to be the creatures’ ancestors.

The new fossils are not extensive. A partial lower jaw and six teeth, belonging to at least one adult and two children, are all researchers have. But the importance of the remains outweighs their number. They suggest that dwarf humans roamed the island - hunting pigmy elephants and fending off komodo dragons - for more than half a million years.

The first bones belonging to the miniature humans were dug from the floor of the Liang Bua cave on Flores in 2004. The 50,000-year-old fossils pointed to a now-extinct group of humans that stood only a metre tall. Named Homo floresiensis, but swiftly nicknamed the “hobbits”, they made simple stone tools and had desperately small brains, one third the size of ours.

For all that was known about the diminutive humans, countless questions remained. How the species arose was anyone’s guess. Meanwhile, some experts argued they were not a new species at all, simply modern humans whose growth had been stunted by disease.

The newly discovered fossils from Mata Menge, a large basin overshadowed by volcanoes in central Flores about 50km east of Liang Bua, effectively rule out the modern human theory. The tiny individuals were alive and making stone tools on Flores half a million years before modern humans existed. “This is the final nail in the coffin for that hypothesis,” said team leader Gert van den Bergh at the University of Wollongong in Australia. “700,000 years ago, there were no Homo sapiens.”

But the fossils, described in two papers in Nature, lend weight to another explanation already favoured by some paleontologists. In this scenario, a founder population of Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, washed up on Flores from a neighbouring island, perhaps clinging to plant debris uprooted by powerful tsunamis that crash through the region. Marooned on Flores with limited food at hand, evolution favoured the small. Over 300,000 years, the new arrivals rapidly lost stature.

Adam Brumm at Griffith University in Queensland, who co-led the excavations, said: “The island is small and it has limited food resources and few predators, other than komodo dragons, so large-bodied mammals that wound up on this rock would have been under immediate selective pressure to reduce their body mass. Being big is no longer an advantage when you’re trying to survive in such an isolated and challenging environment.”


I was just about to post that. What I find interesting is that these ancestors were smaller than their descendants. That doesn't seem like what you would expect for island dwarfism.
I was just about to post that. What I find interesting is that these ancestors were smaller than their descendants. That doesn't seem like what you would expect for island dwarfism.
Unless they experienced island dwarfism quickly after colonising an island with limited resources they were less equipped to exploit, before the cognitive advantage they had over native animals allowed them to adapt.
If it is from the H.habilis line then it means it's ancestors probobly left Africa long before ours and may have specieated into other things.
A possible Hobbit in Brazil in the 1970s?

Screenshot-2018-7-16 Spaceships in prehistory(8).png

This is from a Peter Kolosimo book you can check out here: