Did we kill the Indonesian hobbits?
Facial approximation of Homo floresiensis by Dr Susan Hayes from the University of Wollongong.
© University of Wollongong
Homo floresiensis, an early human-like species affectionately known as ‘hobbits’, may have died out earlier than previously thought, an international team of researchers suggests.
Fossilized hobbit bones were discovered in Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. Estimates dated the remains at 12,000 years, which placed the diminutive species on Earth at the same time as modern humans, who reached Australia about 50,000 years ago.
But, a study published in Nature challenges those earlier figures. Using a range of techniques, scientists dated the Liang Bua fossils and stone tools at 100,000 to 60,000, and 190,000 to 50,000 years old, respectively.
“The overlap does point to the possibility that our species may well have had a hand in their disappearance,” researcher Matt Tocheri of Lakehead University told the Washington Post.
The international team included researchers from the University of Wollongong.
- Nature 2016; 532: 366–369. doi: 10.1038/nature17179