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Barbulescu 1 Ronald Barbulescu ANT 2110 Teddi J. Setzer, Ph.D.

17 April 2011 The Hobbit, A New Human Species Over 100,000 years ago, the Earth was inhabited by many different species that no longer exist today. It was around this same that the more complex and intelligent species were being developed. The genus Homo had already existed for over 2 million years, but it was not until about 200,000 years ago that anatomically modern humans began to develop. This development of the genus Homo had already spread out of Africa, the origin, and into mostly every part of the known world, in all types of climates and environments. Most species in the genus Homo lived in various grasslands, savannahs, and other mild climates. Some, like Homo neanderthalensis, more commonly known as Neanderthals, lived in colder climates, where the terrain was rough and required the physical characteristics of the species to be adapted to better suit the climate in which they lived. This adaptation to environments was not only prevalent in Neanderthals, but rather in most species in the genus Homo, as those who did not adapt were left to die out while the others migrated and adapted to survive. One particular species in the Homo genus that was recently discovered has evidence that suggests a definite environmental adaptation, causing it to survive until as recent as 12,000 years ago; Homo floresiensis, also known as the Hobbit.

Barbulescu 2 The ancestors of these so-called hobbits probably left Africa for Southeast Asia on foot about 2 million years ago, ultimately crossing ocean waters to land on a narrow island, where the remains of the species in question were found. Homo floresiensis was first discovered in 2003, where an initial skull and parts of a skeleton of an adult hominin dating to 18,000 years ago were discovered at the Liang Bua Cave site on the island of Flores in Indonesia (Ref #1, #3). Its name, Homo floresiensis, is derived from the island on which it was found, Flores. The key hobbit skeleton is an adult female named LB1 for the place it was found [Liang Bua]in the tradition of giving notable hominid fossils familiar names, LB1 was nicknamed Flo (Neimark 53). After the initial finding of Flo in 2004 by archaeologist Michael Morwood of the University of Wollongong in Australia, he wrote an article on his findings, which also included as many as 14 other individuals in the same cave, all of them presented to the world in the journal Nature in 2004 (Neimark 53). This discovery has since become a media sensation, as Flo is one of the most complete fossils found anywhere until you get toNeanderthals and modern humans (Neimark 53). What is most important about this discovery is that it provides a true argument to the previous belief that only anatomically modern humans had occupied the known world since 200,000 years ago, as Flo and her species have shown signs of survival alongside modern humans until as recently as 12,000 years ago. Homo floresiensis is also unique in that is physical characteristics and signs of culture can provide a new link between early Homo species and anatomically modern humans, as it has unique characteristics.

Barbulescu 3 The most intriguing, unique, and fascinating aspects of Homo floresiensis are its physical characteristics. Even though it was an adult, it was only about 3.5 feet (106 cm) tall and had a cranial capacity of only 417cc (Ref #1, #4). Other physical characteristics include weight of about 60 pounds. She walked upright on large, flat fleet unsuited to running and had a prominent brow, primitive teeth, no chin, short legs, and mysteriously long arms (Neimark 54). What sparked the most debate on whether this newly found specimen should be classified into its own species was the size of the skull and the brain. At 417cc, the brain size of H. floresiensis compared to an anatomically modern human is about only 1/3, as modern human cranial capacity ranges anywhere from 12001850cc. The combination of small height and cranial capacity resembled that of the australopiths, but cranial and dental features were more similar to the genus Homo, so it was classified into a new species, Homo floresiensis (Relethford 334). The reason for such a sustained survival in its existence was mainly due to the fact that while the brains size was small, its function was more advanced than its supposed ancestors, Homo erectus. Scans show that the hobbit brain was uniquely folded and unusually complexthe temporal lobes were really wide, which is an advanced featureat the very front were two enormous convolutions in an area associated with executive functions like planning ahead, again a complex feature (Neimark 55). The idea that such a diminutive creature could have as much brain function as it did is what is changing the accepted norm that bigger brain size means better development. The new theory is that

Barbulescu 4 brain architecture and function are not always tightly constrained by size (Neimark 55). How did this species get to be so small exactly? There are a lot of theories, but the main consensus on the most fitting explanation is that of Island Dwarfism. This process has been observed for a number of animal species. When a population of large animals is trapped on an island [Flores] with limited resources, natural selection favors smaller body size, ultimately leading to species that are much smaller than their ancestors were (Relethford 334). Due to this lack of resources that other similar species in the Homo genus did not have, it is very likely that this is the reason why the species grew to be so diminutive over time. In order to survive on a remote island separated from other land masses around would also likely lead to competition amongst the species for the already limited resources, thus leading to a necessity to adapt to survive on smaller meals and amounts of water. Over the 70,000+ years that Homo floresiensis survived, the species most like grew smaller and smaller over time. One theory is that a small population of H. erectus wound up isolated on Flores and over time evolved into the dwarf species H. floresiensis (Ref #1, #6). Was it H. erectus that suffered from island dwarfism, or was it another species of ancestor entirely? Evidence points to stone tools found on Flores dating to 840,000 years ago that may have been made by earlier groups of H. erectus (Ref #1, #5), but could also possibly have been from even earlier species. It was also these same stone tools that suggest a very advanced and cultured lifestyle for H. floresiensis, one that could be

Barbulescu 5 compared to anatomically modern humans as they were developing into the modern Homo sapiens sapiens subspecies that we are a part of today. Upon the finding of the first remains of what would become the Homo floresiensis species, ancient stone tools were also found alongside the specimen remains, suggesting that this species was adept at making its own tools for use. These tools included hammers, knives, hatchets, and others that were used to hunt for food, prepare meals, build shelters, and other basic functions that tools would be used for survival. The discovery of these tools led to the speculation of exactly what type of culture and lifestyle did H. floresiensis had; were they hunter-gatherers? Scavengers? The analysis of the physical evidence and remains suggests the former. Evidence of butchery and fire on animal bones found near hobbit remains suggests that these early humans enjoyed a good barbecue, usually of baby elephants, huge rats, and deadly Komodo dragons that they hunted and killed (Ref #2, #7). These types of prey could only have been killed with stone tools evident in the findings at the cave site in Flores. What is most intriguing is the idea that H. floresiensis was able to use stone tools to make other tools. Relics unearthed in Flores indicate that the hobbits used large stones as hammers to knap and chip away at stone flakes, shaping them into cutting tools (Neimark 55). More than 500 stone blades found on Floresseem to have been made in the same way (Ref #8). This trait of H. floresiensis indicates that it was a fairly advanced creature, even though its brain was significantly smaller than other species with similar abilities during the same period of its existence. This theory of the hobbit being so advanced despite its

Barbulescu 6 brain capacity has sparked a debate on whether this newly discovered species was really a whole separate species of its own, or if it was just an anatomically modern human that was altered into a smaller form factor somehow. There are many dissenting opinions on whether H. floresiensis should really be classified into a new species, as the island dwarfism theory isnt completely supported by all scientists. Some anthropologists have argued that the skull [of the hobbit Flo] is that of a microcephalic [small-headed] modern human (Relethford 335). In order to address this dissenting opinion, a virtual endocast of H. floresiensis using three-dimensional computer tomography. They found it did not resemble that of a microcephalic but was most similar to H. erectus, although with a brain-body size ratio like that of australopiths (Relethford 335). Other theories suggest that Flo was a diseased modern human, related to pygmies...or simply a late form of H. erectus...or maybe hobbits had descended from Australopithecus afarensis, since that species was a highly adaptable biped that spread over great masses of African land (Neimark 54). Many experts have spent the last few years since the initial discovery trying to disprove any notion that H. floresiensis should not be considered a completely separate species based on its physical characteristics. Michael Morwood, the initial discoverer of the specimen, stated, the face and teeth are all wrong australopiths. As for dwarfing, if Homo erectus were its ancestor, it would have had to do more than dwarf; it would have had to re-evolve a more primitive body design from head to toe (Neimark 54). The island dwarfism theory fits best to explain

Barbulescu 7 the reason behind the primitive skeletal structure, but exactly how did H. floresiensis originally reach the remote, and separated island of Flores, since there was never an apparent land bridge to cross over from an original point? A question that has been at the forefront of discovering more information about the hobbit is the explanation behind its appearance on the island of Flores. The island is separated from the rest of Indonesia by a very deep ocean trench, and even during times when sea levels dropped, it would not have been possible to walk to Flores, perhaps implying the use of some sort of raft (Relethford 335). Another theory that has been proposed is that of a giant tsunami like the one that hit the region in 2004 swept them [H. floresiensis] out to sea. Survivors clinging to trees could have been washed ashore on Sulawesi [a neighboring island], only to migrate to nearby Flores after that (Neimark 54). The most realistic theory that was suggested to determine the origin of H. floresiensis is that of Asia and its mostly unexplored areas that could lead to more clues on this species origin. Perhaps hominids spread throughout the Southeast Asian archipelagos earlier and more extensively than weve realized. What about early man in the Indian subcontinent? In remote areas of China? Theres so much yet to be discovered (Neimark 55). Could a primitive species such as the hobbit have truly survived a tsunami and found a way onto Flores by getting swept out to sea? It is possible, but the true story will obviously never been known, but these theories are all good possibilities. The hobbit had to have originated on a remote island somehow, but as of now there is not enough physical evidence to support any one claim, or to

Barbulescu 8 come to a general consensus on the topic. The answer to the origin of the species could lead to an important link between anatomically modern humans, hobbits, and other earlier species in the genus Homo, as they all lived together during the same time period in different areas. Up until the recent discovery of Homo floresiensis, or the hobbit, as it has been nicknamed following the J.R.R. Tolkien novel by the same name, the general theory was that only anatomically modern humans were the last surviving, and current, species of the genus Homo. The fact that some of the hobbit remains have been identified to have lived as recently as 12,000 years ago sheds new possibilities on whether anatomically modern humans were really the best suited for survival in the modern world. According to fossil records, H. floresiensis even outlasted the Neanderthals, which went extinct about 28,000 years ago, but were thought to be most similar to H. sapiens based on skeletal structure and cranial capacity and intelligence. While Neanderthals lived in cold, mountainous climates and had a harsh lifestyle, H. floresiensis was living alongside them on a distant island, and just like Neanderthals, had to adapt to their environment to survive, as they had limited resources. While there was a significant size difference between the hobbit, Neanderthals, and anatomically modern humans, brain function seemed to have been fairly similar with each of these groups, until the modern humans began to develop more complex functions and eventually won out in natural selection between the three species. All three species similarly had a hunter-gatherer type of lifestyle and society, and used tools to assist them in their survival methods. It

Barbulescu 9 is known that both modern humans and Neanderthals had a spoken language or similar form of communication between members, but it has not been determined whether the hobbits had the same trait as of yet. While the Neanderthal extinction has been documented, there is still a debate on the disappearance of H. floresiensis. It is theorized that about 14,000-12,000 years ago, the hobbit species was wiped out perhaps by a volcanic eruption, or perhaps by competition with modern humans. If they did interact with humans, the hobbits may have inspired the local [Flores] legends of a small, hairy, humanlike creature that some Flores natives call the Ebu Gogo [which loosely translates to grandparent who eats anything] (Ref #2, #9). It is extremely likely that Flores man lived in close proximity to (and in all probability interacted with) modern humansfurthering the view that human evolution is by no means unilinear (Ref #10). This suggests that the hobbit may have lived even more recently than has been discovered as of now. If that is the case, then it might actually provide evidence that there maybe other species of early human that has not been discovered yet, that may be the true link between small, primitive physical specimens like the hobbits, compared to the complex, modern humans of today. The most important lesson to be learned from the discovery of the hobbit is the fact that brain architecture and function are not always tightly constrained by size[it] challenges the idea that intelligence is directly proportional to brain size (Neimark 55).

Barbulescu 10 Works Cited Relethford, John. The Human Species: an Introduction to Physical Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print. Neimark, Jill. Meet the New Human Family. Discover. May (2011): 53-55. Print. Brown, P., T. Sutikna, M.J. Morwood, R.P. Soejono, Jatmiko, E. Wahyu Saptomo, and Rokus Awe Due. 2004. A New small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature. 431:1055 1061. Falk, D., C. Hildebolt, K. Smith, M.J. Morwood, T. Sutikna, P. Brown, Jatmiko, E. Wayhu Saptomo, B. Brunsden, and F. Prior. 2005. The brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis. Science 308:242-245. O Sullivan, P.B., M. Morwood, D. Hobbs, F.A. Suminto, M. Situmorang, A. Raza, and R. Maas. 2001. Archaeological implications of the geology and chronology of the Soa Basin, Flores, Indonesia. Geology 29:607-610. Lieberman, D.E. 2005. Further fossil finds from Flores. Nature 437: 957-958 Lieberman, D. "Homo floresiensis from head to toe." Nature 459.7243 (2009): 41-42. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. Michael Hopkin. "Old tools shed light on hobbit origins." Nature 441.7093 (2006): 559. Research Library, ProQuest. Web. 28 Apr. 2011.

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Gregory Forth. Paleoanthropology and Local Legends: Homo Floresiensis in the News. Anthropology Today. Vol. 21, No. 1, Policy and Islam (Feb., 2005), p. 22. Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Article Stable URL: <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3695038> Gregory Forth. Hominids, Hairy Hominoids and the Science of Humanity. Anthropology Today. Vol. 21, No. 3 (Jun., 2005), pp. 13-17 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Article Stable URL: <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3695021>