More on the Indonesian “Hobbit”
Homo floresiensis is back in the news as paleontologists find out more about this interesting fossil. Scientists have now found remains for about nine individuals. Further, analysis of the fossils indicate that Homo floresiensis is a descendant of australopithecines that originated in Africa more than 3 million years ago. These findings indicate that early human ancestors may have left Africa earlier than previously believed, by about 2 million years.
Independent scientists have also confirmed that the new finds are a new species and were not merely pygmies or diseased modern humans (local creationists responded with, “Yeah, well I still ain’t seen no fish turn inter a human!”).
“But increasingly the evidence is pointing towards an ancestor with the same body size and brain size as australopithecines,” Professor Brown said. With long arms, thick bones and small brains, these people had body proportions “exactly the same as Lucy’s”.
The new fossils were found last year, but the researchers were unable to dig in Liang Bua this year following a custody dispute with a leading Indonesian researcher over the priceless remains, which resulted in them being irreparably damaged.
Instead, Professor Morwood and his colleagues excavated in the nearby Soa Basin and found “very exciting” evidence, including stone tools that pushed back the known human occupation of the island to at least 1 million years.