TECH

Indonesian Fossil Discovery Reveals More About 'Hobbit' Humans

Tolkien was on to something.

09/06/2016 14:44

A new fossil discovery in Indonesia could be the key to learning more about the ancestors of human ‘Hobbits’.

A research team on the island of Flores found the teeth and jawbone of one adult and two children during the cave dig beneath volcanic rock.

Skull findings at the Liang Bua cave back in 2004, had previously suggested that ‘Hobbit’ humans lived as recently as 12,000 years ago.

But the new paper, published in Nature journal, explains that the most recent remains suggest it was actually between 50,000-60,000 years ago.

The evidence also lead to new insights about what prompted the rapid physical changes in the ‘Hobbit’ people.

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It is not believed that they were actually the next stage in evolution from the upright Homo erectus who arrived on the island from Java.

Then rapidly changing shape to adapt to the scarcity of resources on the island.

This is a relatively common phenomenon known as island dwarfism, also seen in animal species such as Channel Island foxes in California and ground sloths in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

The primitive ‘Hobbit’ humans were nicknamed as such because of their diminutive stature, they stood at approximately one metre (just over three feet) in height.

Their brains were also smaller - equal to that of a chimpanzee and roughly third of the size of a current human brain.

Researcher Gerrit Van Den Bergh told the Nature journal: “We had given up hope of finding anything, then it was bingo!”

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