An Unexpected Discovery

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You may have thought that Hobbits only existed in the Kingdom of Middle Earth, but remains of a small human species have been found on the island of Flores (one of thousands of islands that together make up the country Indonesia in south east Asia. In 2004 archaeologists discovered the 18,000 year old remains of an ancient human called Homo floresiensis. The tiny human stood only 1 meter tall and therefore was appropriately nick named “the Hobbit” (I like to imagine that they also had very hairy feet) after J. R. R. Tolkien’s race of miniature creatures in the Lord of the Rings series.

After the uncovering of the Hobbit, scientists continued exploring the nearby Indonesian islands. They already knew that the westerly island of Java was a home to Homo erectus (an ancient human that is named for the way it walked upright on two legs), and have just announced the discovery of 118,000 to 194,000 year old stone tools on the island of Sulawesi. This amazing find suggests that ancient humans may have traveled from island to island earlier and more frequently than was previously believed, and that it is possible the prehistoric residents of Sulawesi were the ancestors of the Hobbit found on Flores. This find is supported by strong ocean currents that move south from Sulawesi to Flores, and the occasional Tsunamis (giant waves caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions) that may have washed the inhabitants from one island to another.

The scientists are excited to see what other discoveries they will make during their excavations, and I can’t wait to learn more about these fascinating ancient humans.

Want to learn more? Visit http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/ancient-tools-may-shed-light-mysterious-hobbit

Jan 15, 2016

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