Anthropology Hobbits & Island dwarfism Mr. Deane December 10th2012
Stood about a meter tall • Had a brain size comparable to the smallest chimpanzee • Found associated with evidence of fire and stone tools • Skeleton was not fossilized • Remains were also discovered of dwarf elephants, giant rats, and komodo dragons.
Discovered in 2003 • Lived between 74 000-13 000 years ago • Generated massive amounts of controversy when it was first described. • Controversial because it suggested: • Animals with small brains capable of making tools and fire. • Further expansion of H. erectus than previously thought. • Another species of hominid surviving until very recently. • Evidence of island dwarfism affecting humans.
A single individual H. sapiens suffering from some pathology. • A unique species, likely descended from a population of Homo erectus that found their way to Indonesia. Two main hypotheses, each with several variants. So what the heck is this thing?
Brain morphology to be comparable to an individual with a certain pathology (like microcephaly). • To find evidence of modern humans at the site who could have cared for this individual. This skeleton represents a single individual H. sapiens suffering from some pathology. For this to be true, one would expect: Hypothesis #1
To find more skeletons with similar proportions • The brain morphology to be distinct from any known pathology This skeleton represents a unique species, likely descended from a population of Homo erectus that found their way to Indonesia. For this to be true, one would expect: Hypothesis #2
In science, a hypothesis can never be proven, only disproven. As such, when approaching H. floresiensis, one must assess the evidence in regards to disproving a certain hypothesis, rather than supporting one. Further research revealed of numerous skeletons with proportions similar to LB1, and noskeletons with modern human proportions. Furthermore, analysis of the brain case showed no similarity to microcephaly or any other known disease. Because of this, it is unlikely that LB1 represents a pathological individual. Disproving vs. proving
Then how did it evolve? If LB1 represents a unique species… Endemic Island Dwarfism
Based on the presence of numerous individual skeletons, it is likely that the Flores skeletons represent an isolated population of diminutive humans. As such, these skeletons have been assigned the name Homo floresiensis, and they are likely descended from a group of Homo erectus that became isolated on the island of Flores. Many environmental factors led to the dwarfism of other species, and, as such, could have affected the stature of ancient humans.
On the island of Flores, there are stories about small, hairy, human-like creatures. • The ebugogo are said to have had a human-like language, and were capable of parroting words that were said to them. • Said to have been alive as recently as the 17th century, and possibly into the 20th. • These stories could have originated from long-standing cultural memories of H. floresiensis., or they could suggest that a species of diminutive hominid survived far more recently than 13 000 years ago. Or they could simply be stories. The legend of the Ebugogo
Massive volcanic eruption around 12 000 years ago, possibly killed off H. floresiensisand Stegodonflorensisinsularis. • But possibly some survived, passing on into legends? So where’d they go?