Ancient Origins

Hobbits-of-Indonesia

The pint-sized Homo floresiensis, nicknamed Hobbits, may have met their demise much earlier than previously believed. Recent research suggests that they lived around 50,000 years ago and not between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago as initially claimed.

According to an article published in the journal Nature, the results of current research challenge previous reports that these inhabitants of the remote Flores island co-existed with modern humans for tens of thousands of years.

Phys.org says that the research project led by the Indonesian scientists, and involving researchers from Griffith University’s Research Centre of Human Evolution (RCHE), discovered problems with the prior dating efforts at the cave site Liang Bua.

The new work was directed by the Associate Professor Maxime Aubert, a geochronologist and archaeologist at RCHE, who, with RCHE’s Director Professor Rainer, measured the amount of uranium and thorium inside Homo floresiensis fossils to test their age. Aubert provided the newest conclusions:

“In fact, Homo floresiensis seems to have disappeared soon after our species reached Flores, suggesting it was us who drove them to extinction. The youngest Hobbit skeletal remains occur at 60,000 years ago but evidence for their simple stone tools continues until 50,000 years ago. After this there are no more traces of these humans.”

In 2003, during the excavations at the limestone cave of Liang Bua, archaeologists discovered bones from diminutive humans unlike any people alive today. The skeleton was the remains of a primitive, small-brained and diminutive hominin. It was found buried 6 meters (19.69 feet) below the ground surface. The same excavation site contained stone artifacts and the remains of a pygmy elephant ( Stegodon), a giant marabou stork, a vulture, and a komodo dragon.

Fossils of Stegodon aurorae (left) and Stegodon orientalis (right).

Fossils of Stegodon aurorae (left) and Stegodon orientalis (right). (CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The previous results of radiocarbon and luminescence dating suggested that the hominin’s remains were from just 18,000 years ago. Additionally, the fragmentary remains of other individuals were thought to be deposited as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Aubert believes that the new analysis by the team answers the question if the previous dating of the bones was done correctly or not.

Deposits containing the remains of Homo floresiensis.

Deposits containing the remains of Homo floresiensis. ( Sutikna, et. al )

The researchers examined the remains of the nine Homo floresiensis. According to the Smithsonian’s Human Origins website , the individuals stood approximately 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 meters) tall, weighed about 25 kilos (55 pounds), and had small brains and large teeth. The Hobbit (as it was dubbed) had shrugged-forward shoulders, no chin, a receding forehead, and relatively large feet compared to the short legs….Read More at