||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (January 2012)|
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene
|A cast of a Homo floresiensis skull, American Museum of Natural History|
|Scientific classification (disputed)|
Brown et al., 2004
Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man", also called "hobbit") is a possible species (type) in the genus Homo, the biological family to which humans belong. The remains were found in 2004 on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Parts of the skeletons of nine individuals were found, including one complete cranium (the bones that form the head).. The most important and obvious identifying features of H. floresiensis are its small body and small size of the space for the brain inside the skull. This is why the discoverers have called members of the species "hobbits", after J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional race of roughly the same height.
A lot of research is done to find out if they are a different species to modern humans.
The remains were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores by an Australian-Indonesian team of archaeologists in 2003. Archaeologist Mike Morwood and colleagues were looking for evidence of the original human migration of H. sapiens from Asia to Australia. They were not expecting to find a new species. They were surprised at the recovery of a nearly complete skeleton of a hominin (the name of the tribe (like a biological family) to which humans also belong). They called it LB1 because it was unearthed inside the Liang Bua Cave. Excavations done after that recovered seven additional skeletons, dating from 38,000 to 13,000 years ago. An arm bone which they think belongs to H. floresiensis is about 74,000 years old. The specimens are not fossilized and have been described as having "the consistency of wet blotting paper"; once exposed, the bones had to be left to dry before they could be dug up.:86
This hominin (human-like being) is remarkable because it has a small body and brain. There are also a lot of stone tools found in the cave. The tools are of a size that could be used by the 1 meter tall human. They are dated from 95,000 to 13,000 years ago. They are found in the same archeological layer as an elephant of the extinct genus Stegodon. They think that LB1 might have hunted this elephant. The elephant would have been very common throughout Asia during the Quaternary. Other animals that lived on the island at that time were giant rats, Komodo dragons, and even larger species of lizards. Homo sapiens reached the region by around 45,000 years ago.
A new species or not? [change]
Archaeologist Mike Morwood and colleagues who found the remains published research to say that they think the individuals belong to a new species, H. floresiensis, within the taxonomic tribe of Hominini. Other members of this tribe are human (the only living member of the genus Homo), bonobo (genus Pan), and chimpanzee (genus Pan); their ancestors; and the extinct line of their common ancestor. The discoverers also say that H. floresiensis might have lived at the same time as modern humans (Homo sapiens) on Flores.
Not everyone agrees that this is a new species. Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob suggested that the skull of LB1 was a modern human with microcephaly. This is a disorder that causes the bones of the head to stop growing. Another study says that perhaps the individuals were born without a working thyroid (a hormone gland), which would result in the small size of the hominins because of a disorder called Myxedema, ME.
Two studies of the bones published in 2007 both reported evidence to support species status for H. floresiensis. A study of three bits of bones from the hand (or carpal bones) showed that they were similar to the carpal bones of a chimpanzee or an early hominin such as Australopithecus. They were also different from the bones of modern humans. A study of the bones and joints of the arm, shoulder, and legs also concluded that H. floresiensis was more similar to early humans and apes than modern humans. In 2009, the publication of a cladistic analysis and a study comparing body sizes gave further support for the theory that H. floresiensis and Homo sapiens are separate species.
Recent survival and Ebu Gogo [change]
They believe that the species has survived on Flores at least until 12,000 years before present. This makes it the longest lasting non-modern human. It also lived longer than the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis), which became extinct about 24,000 years ago.
Because of a deep neighboring strait, Flores remained isolated during the Wisconsin glaciation (the most recent glacial period). Because of this, the discoverers of H. floresiensis think that the species, or its ancestors, must have reached the isolated island by water transport around 100,000 years ago (or, if they are H. erectus, then about 1 million years ago).
Local geology suggests that a volcanic eruption on Flores approximately 12,000 years ago was responsible for the end of H. floresiensis and animals that lived on the island. The elephant Stegodon also became extinct at this time. Gregory Forth hypothesized that H. floresiensis may have survived longer in other parts of Flores to become the source of the Ebu Gogo stories told among the local people.
The stories say that Ebu Gogo were small, hairy, language-poor cave dwellers that are the same size as the Homo Floresiensis. It is said that they were there at the time of the arrival of the first Portuguese ships during the 16th century. These creatures are claimed to have existed as recently as the late 19th century. Gerd van den Bergh, a paleontologist working with the fossils, reported hearing of the Ebu Gogo ten years before the fossil discovery. On the nearby island of Sumatra, there are reports of a 1-1.5m tall humanoid, the Orang Pendek which might be related to H. floresiensis. Henry Gee, senior editor at Nature magazine, speculates that species like H. floresiensis might still exist in the unexplored tropical forest of Indonesia.
- Brown et al. 2004
- Morwood, Brown et al. 2005
- Morwood, Soejono et al. 2004
- Nature 2004
- Morwood and van Oosterzee 2007
- The Age 2004-10-27
- Smithsonian July 2008
- McKie, Robin (February 21st, 2010). "How a hobbit is rewriting the history of the human race". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/feb/21/hobbit-rewriting-history-human-race. Retrieved February 23st, 2010.
- Obendorf et al. 2008
- Tocheri et al. 2007
- New Scientist 2007-09-20
- Larson et al. 2007 (preprint online)
- Guardian 2007-09-21
- Argue, Morwood et al. 2009
- Jungers and Baab 2009
- Forth 2005
- Telegraph 2004-11-02
- Sereno, M.I. (2005). "Language Origins Without the Semantic Urge" (PDF). Cognitive Science Online 3.1: 1–12. http://cogsci-online.ucsd.edu/3/3-1.pdf.
- Nature 2004-10-27
- "'Hobbit' joins human family tree". BBC News. October 27, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3948165.stm.
- ABC Science Online [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] (September 21, 2007). Wrist gives hobbit theory the flick. 172. http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/2038346.htm.
- The Age. (October 28, 2008). Lost race of human 'hobbits'. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/10/27/1098667841536.html.
- Agence France-Presse (November 6, 2004). Indonesian scientist says Flores hominid not new species. http://www.mywire.com/a/AFP/Indonesian-scientist-says-Flores-hominid/642869?&pbl=273. (paid content)
- Argue, D.; Donlon, D., Groves, C. and Wright, R. (October 2006). "Homo floresiensis: Microcephalic, pygmoid, Australopithecus, or Homo?". Journal of Human Evolution 51 (4): 360–374. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.04.013. PMID 16919706.
- Argue, Debbie; Morwood, M.; Sutikna, T.; Jatmiko; Saptomo, W. (July 2009). "Homo floresiensis: A cladistic analysis". Journal of Human Evolution Online Only as of Aug 4, 09.. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=GatewayURL&_method=citationSearch&_uoikey=B6WJS-4WTYXVS-1&_origin=SDEMFRHTML&_version=1&md5=c0effb68fc1ae59ac67dfe6ef7f0ade9.
- BBC. The Mystery of the Human Hobbit (Horizon 2005). BBC. Retrieved on 2005.
- BBC News (January 25, 2007). Hobbit cave digs set to restart. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6294101.stm.
- Brown, P.; Sutikna, T., Morwood, M. J., Soejono, R. P., Jatmiko, Wayhu Saptomo, E. and Rokus Awe Due (October 27, 2004). "A new small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia". Nature 431 (7012): 1055–1061. doi:10.1038/nature02999. PMID 15514638.
- "Pygmy". Encyclopædia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9062017.
- Falk, D.; Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Morwood, M. J., Sutikna, T., Brown, P., Jatmiko, Wayhu Saptomo, E., Brunsden, B. and Prior, F. (April 8, 2005). "The Brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis". Science 308 (5719): 242. doi:10.1126/science.1109727. PMID 15749690.
- Falk, D.; Hildebolt, C.; Smith, K.; Morwood, M.J.; Sutikna, T.; Others, (February 2, 2007). "Brain shape in human microcephalics and Homo floresiensis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (7): 2513. doi:10.1073/pnas.0609185104. PMC 1892980. PMID 17277082. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/7/2513.
- Falk, D.; Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Wayhu Saptomo, E., Brunsden, B. and Prior, F. (May 19, 2006). "Response to Comment on "The Brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis"". Science 312: 999c. doi:10.1126/science.1124972.
- Fix, Alan G. (June 1995). "Malayan Paleosociology: Implications for Patterns of Genetic Variation among the Orang Asli". American Anthropologist, New Series 97 (2): 313–323. doi:10.1525/aa.1995.97.2.02a00090. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-7294%28199506%292%3A97%3A2%3C313%3AMPIFPO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-%23. (subscription required)
- Forth, G. (2005). "Hominids, hairy hominoids and the science of humanity". Anthropology Today 21 (3): 13–17. doi:10.1111/j.0268-540X.2005.00353.x. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118652221/abstract.
- FSU News (January 29, 2007). FSU anthropologist's brain analysis confirms ancient 'Hobbit' a separate species. http://www.fsu.edu/news/2007/01/29/brain.analysis/. (subscription required)
- Gee, Henry (October 27, 2004). "Flores, God and Cryptozoology: The discovery poses thorny questions about the uniqueness of Homo sapiens". Nature. doi:10.1038/news041025-2.
- Guardian (September 21, 2007). Yes, it's a Hobbit. The debate that has divided science is solved at last (sort of). http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/sep/21/2.
- Hershkovitz, I., Kornreich, L., Laron, Z. (2007). "Comparative skeletal features between Homo floresiensis and patients with primary growth hormone insensitivity (Laron Syndrome)". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134 (2): 198–208. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20655. PMID 17596857.
- Jacob, T.; Indriati, E., Soejono, R. P., Hsu, K., Frayer, D. W., Eckhardt, R. B., Kuperavage, A. J., Thorne, A. and Henneberg, M. (September 5, 2006). "Pygmoid Australomelanesian Homo sapiens skeletal remains from Liang Bua, Flores: Population affinities and pathological abnormalities". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, US 103 (36): 13421–13426. doi:10.1073/pnas.0605563103. PMC 1552106. PMID 16938848.
- Jungers, W; Baab, K. (December 2009). "The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution". Significance 6 (4). http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122688405. (subscription required)
- Jungers, William L.; Larson, S.G.; Harcourt-Smith, W.; Morwood, M.J.; Sutikna, T.; Due Awe, Rokhus; Djubiantono, T. (December 4, 2008). "Descriptions of the lower limb skeleton of Homo floresiensis". Journal of Human Evolution 57 (5): 538. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.08.014. PMID 19062072. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WJS-4V2PSNH-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=f61fb21de0ea1cfea8e8a9a422d3d85d.
- Larson, S.G., Jungers, W.L., Morwood, M.J., et al. (December 2007). "Homo floresiensis and the evolution of the hominin shoulder". Journal of Human Evolution 53 (6): 718–31. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.06.003. PMID 17692894.
- Los Angeles Times (May 20, 2006). 'Hobbit' Bones Said to Be of Deformed Human.
- Lyras, G.A., Dermitzakis, D.M., Van Der Geer, A.A.E., Van der Geer, S.B., De Vos, J. (August 1, 2008). "The origin of Homo floresiensis and its relation to evolutionary processes under isolation". Anthropological Science 117: 33. doi:10.1537/ase.080411. http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ase/advpub/0/advpub_0807280043/_article.
- Martin, R. D.; MacLarnon, A. M., Phillips, J. L., Dussubieux, L., Williams, P. R. and Dobyns, W. B. (May 19, 2006). "Comment on "The Brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis"". Science 312 (5776): 999. doi:10.1126/science.1121144. PMID 16709768.
- Morwood, M. J.; Soejono, R. P., Roberts, R. G., Sutikna, T., Turney, C. S. M., Westaway, K. E., Rink, W. J., Zhao, J.- X., van den Bergh, G. D., Rokus Awe Due, Hobbs, D. R., Moore, M. W., Bird, M. I. and Fifield, L. K. (October 27, 2004). "Archaeology and age of a new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia". Nature 431 (7012): 1087–1091. doi:10.1038/nature02956. PMID 15510146.
- Morwood, M. J.; Brown, P., Jatmiko, Sutikna, T., Wahyu Saptomo, E., Westaway, K. E., Rokus Awe Due, Roberts, R. G., Maeda, T., Wasisto, S. and Djubiantono, T. (October 13, 2005). "Further evidence for small-bodied hominins from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia". Nature 437 (7061): 1012–1017. doi:10.1038/nature04022. PMID 16229067.
- Morwood, Mike; van Oosterzee, Penny (2007). A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the "Hobbits" of Flores, Indonesia. Smithsonian Books. ISBN 0-06-089908-5.
- Nature (October 28, 2004). "Little lady of Flores forces rethink of human evolution". Nature 431 (7012): 1029. doi:10.1038/4311029a. PMID 15510116.
- New Scientist (December 11, 2004). Fight over access to 'hobbit' bones – being-human. http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg18424772.900.
- New Scientist (September 20, 2007). 'Hobbitt' wrist bones suggest a distinct species. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12667-hobbit-wrist-bones-suggests-a-distinct-species.html.
- New Scientist (April 16, 2008). Flores 'hobbit' walked more like a clown than Frodo. 3. pp. 983–984. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13692-flores-hobbit-walked-more-like-a-clown-than-frodo.html.
- The New York Times (August 21, 2006). Report Reignites Feud Over 'Little People' as Separate Species. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/21/science/21cnd-tiny.html.
- New Zealand Herald (November 30, 2004). Hobbit woman' remains spark row among academics. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=82&ObjectID=8500998.
- Obendorf, P.J.; Oxnard, C.E.; Kefford, C.E. (June 7, 2008). "Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins?". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B Biological Sciences (Online: Royal Society) 275 (1640): 1287–1296. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1488. PMC 2602669. PMID 18319214. http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/jl77276376781n87/.
- Science (May 19, 2006). "How the Hobbit Shrugged: Tiny Hominid's Story Takes New Turn". Science 312 (5776): 983–984. doi:10.1126/science.312.5776.983a. PMID 16709753.
- Science Daily (October 28, 2004). Skeleton reveals lost world of 'Little people'. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041028144857.htm. (subscription required)
- Science News (July 15, 2006). "Did small hominids have a genetic defect?". ScienceNews 170 (3): 46. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Did+small+hominids+have+a+genetic+defect%3F-a0149357363.
- The Scientist (February 28, 2005). Flores hominid bones returned. http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20050228/01/.
- Smithsonian (July 2008). The Great Human Migration. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/human-migration.html.
- Spiegel (September 1, 2006). A Huge Fight over a Little Man. http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,434604,00.html.
- Sydney Morning Herald (March 5, 2005). Hobbits triumph tempered by tragedy. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Science/Hobbits-triumph-tempered-by-tragedy/2005/03/04/1109700677461.html.
- Telegraph (November 2, 2004). Villagers speak of the small, hairy Ebu Gogo. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2004/11/01/ecnhuman228.xml.
- TIME (April 30, 2005). Bones of contention.
- Times Online (December 3, 2004). Professor fuels row over Hobbit man fossils. London. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1386423,00.html.
- Tocheri, M.W.; Orr, CM; Larson, SG; Sutikna, T; Jatmiko; Saptomo, EW; Due, RA; Djubiantono, T et al. (September 21, 2007). "The Primitive Wrist of Homo floresiensis and Its Implications for Hominin Evolution". Science 317 (5845): 1743. doi:10.1126/science.1147143. PMID 17885135.
- USA Today (July 16, 2006). The hullabaloo about hobbits. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/columnist/vergano/2006-07-16-hobbit-argument_x.htm.
- Weber, George. "Lonely islands: The Andamanese (Ch. 5)". Andaman Association. http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/chapter5/text5.htm.
- Weber, J.; Czarnetzki, A., Pusch, C.M. (October 14, 2005). "Comment on "The Brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis"". Science 310 (5746): 236. doi:10.1126/science.1114789. PMID 16224005. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5746/236b.
- Weston, E. M.; Lister, A. M. (May 7, 2009). "Insular dwarfism in hippos and a model for brain size reduction in Homo floresiensis". Nature 459 (7243): 85–8. doi:10.1038/nature07922. ISSN 0028-0836. PMC 2679980. PMID 19424156.
Further reading [change]
- Linda Goldenberg (2007). Little People and a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Twenty-First Century Books. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-8225-5983-2. OCLC 62330789.
- Maciej Henneberg; John Schofield (2008). The Hobbit Trap:Money, Fame, Science and the Discovery of a 'New Species'. Kent Town: Wakefield Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-86254-791-9.
Other websites [change]
|Wikinews has news related to this article: Bones of "small-bodied humans" found in cave|
|Wikispecies has information on: Homo floresiensis.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Homo floresiensis|
- Hawks, John. Blog of a professor of anthropology who closely follows this topic.
- "Another diagnosis for a hobbit" (online). 3 July 2007. http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/flores/hershkovitz_laron_syndrome_2007.html.
- "The Liang Bua report" (online). 10 August 2007. http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/flores/hershkovitz_laron_syndrome_2007.html.
- "The forelimb and hindlimb remains from Liang Bua cave" (online). 18 December 2008. http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/flores/jungers-larson-hindlimb-forelimb-2008.html.
- "Were Homo floresiensis just a population of myxoedematous endemic cretin Homo sapiens?" (online). Anthropology.net. March 5, 2008. http://anthropology.net/2008/03/05/was-homo-floresiensis-a-population-of-myxoedematous-endemic-cretin-homo-sapiens/. Blog commentary on the Obendorf paper.
- Washington University in St. Louis Virtual Endocasts of the "Hobbit" – Electronic Radiology Laboratory
- Scientific American Interview with Professor Brown 10/27/2004
- National Geographic News article on H. floresiensis
- "What is the Hobbit?" A review of the state of debate regarding the status of H. Floresiensis, from the open access journal Public Library of Science, Biology
- Nova's Alien from Earth documentary website, complete program available through Watch Online feature
- Hobbits in the Haystack: Homo floresiensis and Human Evolutions – Turkhana Basin Institute presentment at the Seventh Stony Brook Human Evolution Symposium
- Indonesian 'hobbits' were distinct human species, say researchers Guardian (UK) report on a "Nature" article that raises the possibility of an earlier divergence than Homo Erectus.
- Homo floresiensis - The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program