Saturday, February 17, 2007
Day-Old Friday Archaeology Blogging
Short people edition.
The Discovery of the Hobbit: The scientific breakthrough that changed the face of human history
February 17, 2007
THE UNEARTHING OF remains of ancient hobbit-sized people in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores caused a sensation in 2004. Only a metre tall, these little humans had brains no bigger than grapefruit, yet they were able to hunt pygmy elephants and giant rats while fending off fierce komodo dragons.
The reason that this discovery is back in the news this week is that paleontologists have determined that the skull found does come from a separate species, not simply a human individual with an unusually small head. This species seems to have lived about 12,000 years ago, which is not actually that long ago in anthropological terms (consider that the neandertals had vanished from the scene at least 10,000 years before that).
Comparison of "hobbit" skull and human skull.
And so, now, the $64,000 dollar question: where did they come from? Did they, in fact, develop indigenously on South Pacific islands? People have claimed that, if they did, this casts doubt upon the theory of an African origin for humanity; I'm not so sure that's the case, but even so it does indicate that Africa was not the only place where human-like beings originated. On the other hand, if these "hobbits" did migrate from somewhere else, where did they come from? These questions, for now, remain unanswered.
Anyway, that's all for this week; there's a large pile of exams awaiting the tender caress of my red pen of dooooooooooom, so I'd better get on with that...