The species Homo Floresiensis is an incredibly interesting archaeological discovery. From their home on the small island Flores in Indonesia, they were able to thrive for over fifty-thousand years- which, despite the fact that scientists originally believed it to be longer, is a huge amount of time. Part of the reason they were able to thrive on such a small island is because they were naturally selected into “evolutionary dwarfism” which caused them to be very small (roughly three feet). This process was successful because their relatively small size allowed them to use a significantly reduced number of necessary resources that are crucial for survival.
The thing I found most interesting when reading about this species was that their brains were actually smaller than those of their predecessors. Similar to the reason why they were so short, natural selection did not choose traits that made them smarter, but instead ones that made them live longer in the end. This could then lead to one to the notion that we may very well eventually reach a point at which natural selection determines we are no longer thriving on becoming smarter, and therefore reverse the process we are currently studying (though maybe not to that extreme). For example: since we have evolved into beings with a larger cerebrum and have created the modern world, we have killed entire species of plants and animals off into extinction, destroyed the natural landscape of our planet, and polluted our air and our water- both of which are supposed to be overly abundant. This is all for the sake of our lives being more “convenient”. Once the negative effects that all of these actions set into motion come to life and people start dying, is it possible that we will begin to regress to where we didn’t make such a mess out of our home?
Another aspect that I found interesting was that Homo Floresiensis had such a similar appearance to Lucy as the article “How a Hobbit is Rewriting the History of the Human Race” points out. Even though Lucy was an Australopithecus Afarensis, had died millions of years ago, and was from Ethiopia, she still was strikingly similar to this species that developed on an island in Indonesia. Homo Floresiensis was also very similar to the Denisovians. While each of these groups may or may not be direct ancestors to our species, it still can explain a lot about how and why our population is so very diverse. If there were multiple different species during the pleistocene period that all contributed to the process that created the modern day human, then much of the variation we see between each other today can be attributed to these different strands of species.
In any case, we can be most assured that the discovery of this strange and small (literally and figuratively) population can be used in a variety of different ways: both to learn new and important information about where we come from, and to predict crucial information about where we will be in the future.