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Homo floresiensis

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Homo floresiensis
Temporal range: 190–50 Ka
7e5f5f2c9fc71b1275ef158b4295a94d.jpg
An artist's illustration of Homo floresiensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: H. floresiensis
Binomial name
Homo floresiensis
Brown et al., 2004

Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed "hobbit") is an extinct species in the genus Homo.

The remains of an individual that would have stood about 3.5 feet (1.1 m) in height were discovered in 2003 at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete skull, referred to as "LB1". These remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans. This hominin had originally been considered to be remarkable for its survival until relatively recent times, only 12,000 years ago. However, more extensive stratigraphic and chronological work has pushed the dating of the most recent evidence of their existence back to 50,000 years ago. Their skeletal material is now dated to from 100,000 to 60,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains were from archaeological horizons ranging from 190,000 to 50,000 years ago. Their skeletal material is now dated to from 100,000 to 60,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains were from archaeological horizons ranging from 190,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Fossil teeth and a partial jaw from hominins believed ancestral to H. floresiensis were discovered in 2014 and described in 2016. These remains are from a site on Flores called Mata Menge, about 74 km from Liang Bua. They date to about 700,000 years ago and are even smaller than the later fossils. The form of the fossils has been interpreted as suggesting that they are derived from a population of Homo erectus that arrived on Flores about a million years ago (as indicated by the oldest artifacts excavated on the island) and rapidly became dwarfed.

Some scholars suggest that the historical H. floresiensis may be connected by folk memory to ebu gogo myths prevalent on the isle of Flores.

The discoverers (archaeologist Mike Morwood and colleagues) proposed that a variety of features, both primitive and derived, identify these individuals as belonging to a new species, Homo floresiensis, within the taxonomic tribe of Hominini, which includes all species that are more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees. Based on previous date estimates, the discoverers also proposed that Homo floresiensis lived contemporaneously with modern humans on Flores.

Doubts that the remains constitute a new species were soon voiced by the Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob, who suggested that the skull of LB1 was a microcephalic modern human. Two studies by paleoneurologist Dean Falk and her colleagues (2005, 2007) rejected this possibility. Falk et al. (2005) has been rejected by Martin et al. (2006) and Jacob et al. (2006), but defended by Morwood (2005) and Argue, Donlon et al. (2006).

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