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25.7.07 0904
The 7 - Random - "Hobbit-sized" creature found in Indonesia
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Grimis
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#1 Posted on 27.10.04 1321.02
Reposted on: 27.10.11 1323.31
Well, this throws a monkey-wrench into modern human evolutionary theory, eh?
    Originally posted by Joseph B. Verrengia/AP
    In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.

    One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.

    This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.

    She is the best example of a trove of fragmented bones that account for as many as seven of these primitive individuals. Scientists have named the new species Homo floresiensis, or Flores Man. The specimens' ages range from 95,000 to 12,000 years old.

    The discovery has astonished anthropologists unlike any in recent memory. Flores Man is a totally new creature that was fundamentally different from modern humans. Yet, it lived until the threshold of recorded human history, probably crossing paths with the ancestors of today's islanders.

    "This finding really does rewrite our knowledge of human evolution," said Chris Stringer, who directs human origins studies at the Natural History Museum in London. "And to have them present less than 20,000 years ago is frankly astonishing."

    Flores Man was hardly formidable. His grapefruit-sized brain was about a quarter the size of the brain of our species, Homo sapiens. It is closer in size to the brains of transitional prehuman species in Africa more than 3 million years ago.

    Yet evidence suggests Flores Man made stone tools, lit fires and organized group hunts for meat.

    Just how this primitive, remnant species managed to hang on is unclear. Geologic evidence suggests a massive volcanic eruption sealed its fate some 12,000 years ago, along with other unusual species on the island.

    Still, researchers say the perseverance of Flores Man smashes the conventional wisdom that modern humans began to systematically crowd out other upright-walking species 160,000 years ago and have dominated the planet alone for tens of thousands of years.

    And it demonstrates that Africa, the acknowledged cradle of humanity, does not hold all the answers to persistent questions of how -- and where -- we came to be.

    "It is arguably the most significant discovery concerning our own genus in my lifetime," said anthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who reviewed the research independently.

    Discoveries simply "don't get any better than that," proclaimed Robert Foley and Marta Mirazon Lahr of Cambridge University in a written analysis.

    To others, the specimen's baffling combination of slight dimensions and coarse features bears almost no meaningful resemblance either to modern humans or to our large, archaic cousins.

    They suggest that Flores Man doesn't belong in the genus Homo at all, even if it was a recent contemporary. But they are unsure how to classify the species.

    "I don't think anybody can pigeonhole this into the very simple-minded theories of what is human," said anthropologist Jeffery Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh. "There is no biological reason to call it Homo. We have to rethink what it is."

    Details of the discovery appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

    Researchers from Australia and Indonesia found the partial skeleton 13 months ago in a shallow limestone cave known as Liang Bua. The cave, which extends into a hillside for about 130 feet, has been the subject of scientific analysis since 1964.

    The female skeleton and fragments from the six other individuals are being stored in a laboratory in Jakarta, Indonesia. The cave, which now is surrounded by coffee farms, is fenced off and patrolled by guards.

    Near the skeleton were stone tools and animal remains, including teeth from a young stegodon, or prehistoric dwarf elephant, as well as fish, birds and rodents. Some of the bones were charred, suggesting they were cooked.
It is astonishing to think that another species of human survived up until possibly 18,000 years ago, which is basically twenty minutes ago in evolutionary history.

Makes me wonder what other extinct humanoid-type species are lurking out there to be discovered in some Pacific Islands or remote sections of Africa.
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JoshMann
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#2 Posted on 27.10.04 1407.00
Reposted on: 27.10.11 1407.11
Maybe they were the anscestors of Pedro's Little Buddy.


squiz
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#3 Posted on 28.10.04 0056.27
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0059.02
How does this throw "a monkey-wrench into modern human evolutionary theory" exactly?
rockstar
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#4 Posted on 28.10.04 0115.38
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0123.09
    Originally posted by Grimis
    miniature elephants


I was going to say I want one of those, but I googled the concept and found that they're 7 feet tall and weigh more than a ton.
Madame Manga
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#5 Posted on 28.10.04 0159.34
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0200.23
    Originally posted by squiz
    How does this throw "a monkey-wrench into modern human evolutionary theory" exactly?


IIRC what I was taught in lower-division anthropology, the received wisdom until very recently was that all species of Homo other than ours had died out by about 30,000 years ago, and that only Homo sapiens neanderthalensis ever co-existed with Homo sapiens sapiens. That's what you can generally deduce from the findings over the last 150 years in mainland Europe, Asia and Africa.

Apparently that wasn't strictly true. Now they have to add a new branch to the tree, though it's a small one in all senses. This type of tiny humanoid may only have existed on this one island, having evolved to specialize there, and that's an unprecedented finding. It's not to say that there were little pockets of divergent people all over--this looks like an unusual set of circumstances. However, this discovery also reinforces Darwin to the Nth degree, of course; humanoids are subject to the same rules of natural selection as Galapagos finches and tortoises.

MM
dMp
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#6 Posted on 28.10.04 0551.40
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0552.39
I can imagine this race living secluded and being missed by evolution..
That region has spawned some unique creatures (komodo dragon only living on 1 or 2 islands there for instance..wasnt Flores one of those?) and they survived up until this day.

If anything it adds to the evolution theory, that it really is a battle of the strongest survivor. We not only outlasted known races like neanderthale men, but these fellows too. Who knows what's hidden inside the earth still.
Mindbogglingly interesting..
Grimis
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#7 Posted on 28.10.04 0634.05
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0634.58
    Originally posted by Madame Manga
    Apparently that wasn't strictly true. Now they have to add a new branch to the tree, though it's a small one in all senses. This type of tiny humanoid may only have existed on this one island, having evolved to specialize there, and that's an unprecedented finding. It's not to say that there were little pockets of divergent people all over--this looks like an unusual set of circumstances. However, this discovery also reinforces Darwin to the Nth degree, of course; humanoids are subject to the same rules of natural selection as Galapagos finches and tortoises.
Exactly. And let's face it. We haven't found every banch of the human evolutionary tree yet. Hell, we still haven't found the Missing Link(no wrestling jokes please).
Karlos the Jackal
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#8 Posted on 28.10.04 0726.34
Reposted on: 28.10.11 0727.56
    Originally posted by Grimis
    And let's face it. We haven't found every banch of the human evolutionary tree yet. Hell, we still haven't found the Missing Link(no wrestling jokes please).


I though I read somewhere sometime that there was no such thing as a missing link, that it was a faulty concept or something. I'll see if I can find a link.

(Edit: Click Here (en.wikipedia.org). Not as in depth as I was hoping, but the best I can do right now.)

In any case, this is an awesome find. I'm kind of a skeptic, but I also really like cryptozoology, and I always thought it would be really cool if we actually found the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot or something. This may be as close as I get.

Thanks for the article, Grimis!

--K






(edited by Karlos the Jackal on 28.10.04 0532)
Madame Manga
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#9 Posted on 28.10.04 1459.43
Reposted on: 28.10.11 1501.51
Yes, I like the idea that we haven't seen the whole picture yet and that there is always more out there to find. Every branch of science needs a good kick in the slats every so often to shake up its more overconfident practitioners. I don't know that I'd put this on quite the level of continental drift as a revolutionary concept--no one is likely to argue that a new species of human is impossible on the face of it--but this is definitely a loud wake-up call for paleoanthropology.

MM
Eddie Famous
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#10 Posted on 28.10.04 2045.17
Reposted on: 28.10.11 2045.24
Let's not all jump off the ledge together, ok?

    Originally posted by the article
    To others, the specimen's baffling combination of slight dimensions and coarse features bears almost no meaningful resemblance either to modern humans or to our large, archaic cousins.

    They suggest that Flores Man doesn't belong in the genus Homo at all, even if it was a recent contemporary. But they are unsure how to classify the species.

    "I don't think anybody can pigeonhole this into the very simple-minded theories of what is human," said anthropologist Jeffery Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh. "There is no biological reason to call it Homo. We have to rethink what it is."


It may not be human at all. Long time to go before anything concrete will come of this.

Lise
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#11 Posted on 30.10.04 1704.19
Reposted on: 30.10.11 1705.41
The fossil remains were found six years ago. This is just the first wide spread publication of the findings. Serious testing, arguing, and such forth has been going on for years, what you are getting are the accepted facts of the find. The dates they are using are from associated volcanic ash deposits, which are extremely reliable dating sources.

The fossil remains are that of a hominin, being that of belonging to the genus Homo. Neanderthals are also hominins. Hominids are primates similar to and ancestors of those in the Homo genus. We are genus: Homo, species: sapiens, subspecies: sapiens. We are generally considered to be descended from Homo erectus. There is no evidence that modern humans have any descent link to the remains, and no one is saying that. What they are saying is that they have at least a separate sub species of hominin that seems to show evidence of dwarfism possibly caused by its environment, that was previously unknown in the fossil record.

A fascinating bit of related information is that there are local legends involving "little people". So it is possible that the "hobbit people" may have lived to interact with modern humans who came to the islands.

If you want to find out more, here's a link to the related articles on Nature.
http://www.nature.com/news/specials/flores/index.html
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