The scientists who discovered the remains of an ancient hobbit-like species of hominid have discovered that the species may have colonized the Indonesian island of Flores as much as a million years ago – far earlier than was first expected – according to a study published on Wednesday.
Archaeologist Dr. Adam Brumm, who led the expedition that first discovered the skeletal remains of the diminutive Homo floresiensis on the isle of Flores in 2003, has published in the scientific journal “Nature” that early life forms occupied the area some 120,000 years before previously believed.
The discovery was made by analyzing volcanic sediment layers that were covering Stone Age tools found by the research team at Wolo Sege in the Soa basin region.
“We don’t know which hominins made the million-year-old tools because, regrettably, no human fossils were found with the tools,” Brumm, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at the Center of Archaeological Science in the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, told the AFP in an email interview.
“However, our working hypothesis is that the Soa Basin toolmakers were the ancestors of … Homo floresiensis, an argument that is supported in some ways by the close similarities between their stone tools,” he added.
There is ongoing debate between scientists as to the exact nature of the 3.25-foot, 65-pound human-like remains discovered by Brumm and his colleagues. One group believed that the “Flores Man”, which is believed to have had a brain equal in size to a chimpanzee’s, was merely a diseased or mutated group of Homo sapiens. On the other hand, those who dubbed them Homo floresiensis (literally, “man of Flores”) believe that they were a unique species previously undiscovered.
“This is a new species that cannot be explained by any known pathology,” Dr. William L. Jungers, a paleoanthropologist who works at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York and has completed a study of the creature’s feet, told the Associated Press (AP) on March 7, 2010.
Image 1: Cave on Flores Island where the specimens were discovered. (Wikipedia)
Image 2: Dr Adam Brumm (center) holding stone tools unearthed at the Wolo Sege site flanked by Dr Gerrit van den Bergh (left) and Professor Mike Morwood (right). (University of Wollongong)
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