Tiny new species of human unearthed
Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2004
NewScientist.com news service
The remains of a tiny and hitherto unknown species of human that lived as recently as 13,000 years ago have been discovered on an Indonesian island.
The discovery has been heralded as the most important palaeoanthropological find for 50 years, and has radically altered the accepted picture of human evolution.
The skull and bones of one adult female, and fragments from up to six other specimens, were found in the Liang Bua limestone caves on Flores Island, which lies at the eastern tip of Java.
The female skeleton, known as LB1 - or by the nickname "Ebu" - has been assigned to a new species within the genus Homo - Homo floresiensis. Examination of the remains shows members of the species stood just 1 metre tall and had a brain no bigger than a grapefruit.
A handful of stone tools from the same period were also found in the caves, along with the bones and teeth of several dwarf stegodons, an ancestor of the modern elephant. Other animal remains, including rats, bats and fish, show signs that they were cooked around the time H. floresiensis inhabited in the caves.
Full Article : newscientist.com
Ancient, Tiny Humans Shed New Light on Evolution
In a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, scientists have unearthed the bones of a species of human never seen before. About three-feet-tall when fully grown, Homo floresiensis resembles some of our most primitive ancestors -- but lived as recently as 13,000 years ago. They made tools and hunted dwarf elephants, but were physically unlike modern pygmies.
Scientists say it's possible h. florensiensis mingled with modern humans; they were both in the region around Indonesia around the same time. The discovery suggests we shared the planet with other species of humanity until quite recently in evolutionary terms. The findings, published in this week's issue of the British scientific journal Nature, also suggest that humans may be subject to the same evolutionary pressures as other mammals, shrinking to dwarf size when isolated in a resource-poor area. NPR's Christopher Joyce reports.
Full Article : npr.org
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