"Hobbit" Ancestors of Early Humans Shrank Rapidly, Find Studies
New studies shed light on a species of half-size humans who lived in Indonesia 700,000 years ago.
Two new studies confirm the discovery of ancestors for a species of hominids, dubbed “hobbits” for their size, filling in a link in the evolutionary chain.
The original “hobbits” (or homo floresiensis) were discovered in 2003 on an Indonesian island of Flores. The skeletons that were found then and in subsequent years allowed the scientists to conclude that a species of hominins that were around 3.5 feet tall existed about 60,000-100,000 years ago. Despite having small brains, these little humans made and used stone tools, hunted and may have used fire.
"The hobbit was real," said archaeologist and the one of the authors of the studies Adam Brumm from the Research Centre of Human Evolution at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. "It was an ancient human species that is separate to ours and that no longer exists on the planet today."
Interestingly, scientists proposed that the hobbits arrived on the island as a larger people and shrank over time, in an process called “island dwarfism,” to adapt to their environment and scant resources.
As the new studies shows, a group of 700,000-year-old fossils, unearthed in Flores in 2014, proves that the hobbits shrank from Homo erectus.
These fossils are of an even smaller people, which means the species must have shrank shortly after appearing on the island. An adult lower jaw fragment from one of the new fossils is 20% smaller than the smallest lower jaw fragment of the Flores Hobbits found earlier.
The cave in Indonesia where the findings were made.
The shape and dating of these new fossils suggest they are the ancestors of the H.floresiensis.
"All the fossils are indisputably hominin, and they appear to be remarkably similar to those of Homo floresiensis," said Yousuke Kaifu, co-author of one of the studies and a paleoanthropologist from Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.
Here’s a video on the Flores Hobbits from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:
Credit: the title image is by Kinez Riza/Nature.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.