More to be found in the Hobbit lands?

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06 May 2007 (The Age) – The real news of this story is that Dr. Morwood, from the team who discovered the hobbit hominid in Flores, is about to begin an archaeological investigation into the islands of Timor and Sulawesi, near Flores where our favourite controversial hobbit was found. This rest of the story, about finding the existence of other extinct animal and human species a la homo floresiensis is still entirely speculative.

From the hobbit team, more human relations

More bizarre, extinct human species — dwarfs and even giants — could be uncovered in Indonesia’s southern islands, with the Australian discoverer of the “hobbit” set to begin fresh diggings next month.

Mike Morwood — who with fellow Australian Peter Brown led the team that discovered the hobbit, Homo floresiensis, in 2003 — is predicting further species will be uncovered on the islands of Timor and Sulawesi, which are near Flores.

Professor Morwood, with a team headed by Indonesian archaeological professor Fachroel Aziz from Indonesia’s Geological Survey Institute, will soon start excavations in the Atambua Basin of Timor. Afterwards, the team will begin diggings in Sulawesi and will return to the Ling Bua cave in Flores, where the hobbit species was uncovered.

“We predict a number of these islands are probably going to have their own endemic human species, and many of them will be small,” Professor Morwood, from the University of Wollongong said.

Professor Morwood flagged that any new human species found on Timor and Sulawesi would be called Homo timoriensis and Homo celebesiensis (Celebes being the former name of Sulawesi).

He said these new species would have evolved separately on their respective islands for more than a million years. Although they could be similar is size, they would be different enough to warrant their own species name.

Professor Morwood said further archaeological finds would help answer the puzzling question of the ancestry of the hobbit, which could lead to a total redrawing of the human family tree. A popular explanation is that the hobbit — and any species that lived in Timor and Sulawesi — are descended from Homo erectus, which lived in Indonesia, notably Java, for thousands of years. But this was probably wrong, Professor Morwood said.

“Some of the traits of Homo floresiensis are so primitive — they’re more primitive than you find in Homo erectus. It seems likely that the ancestor was something before Homo erectus,” he said.

If true, this would revolutionise our understanding of human history because Homo erectus was believed to be the first early human that was advanced enough to leave Africa.

Related Books:
Little People And a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery by L. Goldenberg
Human Origins : The Fossil Record by C. S. Larsen

World Heritage status for Hobbit site?

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02 May 2007 (The Australian) – The discoverer of the Flores hominid is preparing to submit a proposal to list the Liang Bua cave, where the dimunitive hominid is found, as a World Heritage site due to the significance of the find. Personally, I think this might be too premature. While I am rooting for the hominid to be an entirely new species, the general consensus is that the jury is still out as to whether the Flores hominid represents and entirely new species. While the article’s main thrust is the nomination of LB1 as a World Heritage Site, one should also take note that the Soa Basin, located 40 km away from the cave is also proposed to be listed as a world heritage site, because of the presence of 900,000-year-old stone tools found there.

Heritage push for ‘hobbits’

THE cave where hobbit-like creatures were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores is so crucial to the study of human evolution it should be World Heritage-listed, leading prehistorians claim.

The international experts kick-started the process at a meeting last month in Mildura, near the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area where the 40,000- to 60,000-year-old remains of Mungo Man were discovered in 1974.

Representing some of the most famous human fossil sites in Africa, China, Indonesia, Europe and Australia, as well as universities, Australian government authorities and private groups including the Getty Conservation Institute in California, the experts also called for listing of the Soa Basin of central Flores.

The basin is located about 40km from Liang Bua cave where the hobbit, Homo floresiensis, was discovered in 2003 by an Australian-Indonesian team.

An open-air site in the basin, Mata Menge, boasts 900,000-year-old stone tools associated with animal remains.

According to Mike Morwood, co-leader of the hobbit discovery team, the cave is especially significant because it contains the site where a totally new species of human was found.

Related Books:
Little People And a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery by L. Goldenberg