March 31, 2016

Homo hobbittus update

Filed under: Paleoanth — acagle @ 8:52 am

New Homo Floresiensis Dates May Quash Cryptozoology Theories About ‘Hobbits’

When the “hobbit” remains were thought to date to as recently as 12,000 years ago, these legends about Ebu Gogo started sounding like they could refer to H. floresiensis. The new Nature paper, however, uses cutting-edge analysis of geology to push the date of disappearance of the “hobbits” back to 50,000 years ago. Or, at least, this is the date that the “hobbits” left the cave at Liang Bua. Research authors Thomas Sutikna and colleagues write that, “Whether H. floresiensis survived after 50 kyr ago — potentially encountering modern humans on Flores or other hominins dispersing through southeast Asia, such as Denisovans — is an open question.”

I’ve been mostly on the fence about this. A whole bunch of microcephalics running around didn’t seem plausible to me, nor did such a recent holdover of mini Homo erecti(ish) guys. This doesn’t push the latter back all that far, but it seems a little more plausible to me.

1 Comment

  1. When a line goes extinct, there’s a reason. One might be another species shows up which is better at exploiting your niche. Of course, it might be a new predator who thinks you’re easier than the other stuff he likes to eat. Or a new disease.
    This requires “new” or things would have gone on as usual.
    Presuming only water voyages, this means likely some kind of hominin such as Erectus.
    Although, see The Monkey’s Voyage by Queiroz, reviewed by Y.T. Something else may have shown up without wanting to, unlike the Erectus possibility.
    Hobbit brains were smaller than ours but not smaller than other critters who have made it thus far. Still, specialization requires less brains–see ants–and the generalist–see us–needs to figure out how to do what he can’t do. Perhaps Hobbit was in the middle; not sufficiently armed with claws, teeth, night vision or something, and not sufficiently smart to make something out of nothing.

    Comment by Richard Aubrey — April 13, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

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