BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Researchers uncovered “hobbit” remains of what might be human’s predecessors. An international team of researchers from Australia, Indonesia, and Japan, alongside 140 locals, managed to excavate 700,000-year-old fossils.
About a decade ago, scientists unearthed the bones of an ancient race of small humans in the Island of Flores, Indonesia. The 50,000-year-old fossils belong to a group of now-extinct humans. The species named Homo floresiensis, was only one meter tall. They had tiny brains, about one-third of ours. Recently, the international team discovered an even greater treasure – the ancestors of those little humans.
The search took place in Mata Menge, a large basin in central Flores. It was there that the team discovered the teeth and bones from and adult and two children. The remains are believed to be at least 700,000 years old, from a time when Home sapiens did not exist. The team considers the discovery to be an important step in better understating evolution.
Researchers say that a founder population of Homo erectus – ancestors of modern humans, arrived on Flores from a neighboring island. With limited food at hand, the already small humans began losing stature even more. The process is known as “island dwarfism”. It didn’t only affect our ancestors. It’s common among some species of animals, that shrink as much as six-fold as a way to adapt to an environment that provides few resources.
Unfortunately, scientists do not have a lot of study material to work with. Apart from a few teeth and a partial lower jawbone, they did not unearth anything else. They found that the jawbone’s shape resembled that of a Homo erectus. Along with the ancient remains of our ancestors, the team uncovered bones of beasts. The “hobbits” shared the island with pygmy elephants, komodo dragons, giant rats, crocodiles, frogs, and birds.
Other scientists are skeptical that researchers uncovered “hobbit” remains that are closely related to those unearthed more than a decade ago.
More fossils are needed to complete the puzzle. Researchers hope to unearth longer bones at Mata Menge. This would provide further proof that what they recently came across are indeed the ancient remains of dwarf humans.
The findings have been published online on June 8 in journal Nature.
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia