Quantcast
Connect with us

New fossils may settle debate over ‘Hobbit’ people’s ancestry

Published

on

Fossils unearthed on the Indonesian island of Flores may resolve one of the most intriguing mysteries in anthropology: the ancestry of the extraordinary diminutive human species dubbed the “Hobbit.”Scientists on Wednesday described bone fragments and teeth about 700,000 years old retrieved from an ancient river bed that appear to belong to the extinct Hobbit species, previously known only from fossils and stone tools from a Flores cave ranging from 190,000 to 50,000 years old.

ADVERTISEMENT

The species, called Homo floresiensis, stood about 3-1/2 feet tall (106 cm), possessing a small, chimpanzee-sized brain.

The new fossils “strongly suggest” the Hobbit evolved from large-bodied, large-brained members of the extinct human species Homo erectus living in Asia, said palaeoanthropologist Yousuke Kaifu of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.

Homo erectus, which first appeared in Africa roughly 1.9 million years ago, is known from numerous fossils 1.5 million to 150,000 years old from Java, an Indonesian island west of Flores, and the new Flores fossils bear similarities to those, said paleontologist Gerrit van den Bergh of Australia’s University of Wollongong.

The fossils included four adult and two baby teeth, a piece of jawbone and a cranial fragment from two children and either one or two adults who may have died in a volcanic eruption. They were dug up during excavations in grasslands nearly 45 miles (70 km) east of the cave where the first Hobbit bones were discovered in 2003.

The jawbone’s size suggested the individual was even a bit smaller than the later cave remains.

ADVERTISEMENT

Previously discovered stone tools suggest the Hobbit’s big-bodied ancestors reached Flores a million years ago, indicating the species shrank during 300,000 years of evolution.

“It now appears that the Flores ‘Hobbit’ is indeed a dwarfed Homo erectus,” said archaeologist Adam Brumm of Australia’s Griffith University.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

ADVERTISEMENT

Size reduction that occurs over many generations of larger mammal species, such as elephants, that somehow reach a new island habitat is called the “island rule,” driven by limited food resources on islands.

Brumm said the 700,000-year-old fossils rule out claims by some scientists that the Hobbit was a member of our species with a medical condition causing small size. Homo sapiens first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

Characteristics of the fossils also do not support the idea the Hobbit evolved from even more ancient members of the human family tree like Homo habilis or Australopithecus, the researchers said.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Paul Simao)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

New York’s coronavirus crisis tracked back to European travel — not China: scientists

Published

on

The New York Times reported Wednesday that scientists have tracked the cases of coronavirus in New York back to travel from Europe.

The Times explained that genomes show the link to those who came down with the virus back in February.

President Donald Trump has been celebrating his decision to shut down some travel from China, though not all travel. A whopping 430,000 people have traveled from China to the United States since the coronavirus crisis.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Warrant for journalists from Jerry Falwell Jr. came from Liberty University’s own police

Published

on

A right-wing commentator interviewed Jerry Falwell Jr. during his show Wednesday, where Falwell said that there were two arrest warrants open for reporters who came onto Liberty University's campus.

Upon further examination of the warrant, the police officer who signed the warrant was Detective/Sgt. A.B. Wilkins 206 LUPD. The LUPD is not the Lynchburg Police Department nor is there a Sgt. or Detective A.B. Wilkins. It's the police department under the authority of Liberty University.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump defenders Diamond and Silk locked out of Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation

Published

on

Fox Nation hosts Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known as Diamond & Silk, were temporarily locked out of Twitter on Wednesday for urging people to go outside and develop immunity against the coronavirus.

“The only way we can become immune to the environment; we must be out in the environment. Quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods will make people sick!” the pair tweeted from their joint account.

A spokesperson for Twitter told Mediaite their account was locked over the tweet.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image