Blog Six: H. floresiensis

Homo floresiensis  also referred to as the Hobbits (for reasons which will be explained) roamed the earth 100,000 to 50,0000 years ago in the island Flores, Indonesia, for which it got its name. Found in a cavern by an Australian paleoarcheaoligcal group, the skeletal pieces of H. floresiensis, including a tiny skull and a little lower jaw, resembled a child. However, it was unique in that the skull had adult teeth leading the archaeologist to believe that the skull was instead from an adult. Further research deduced that H. floresiensis stood at three feet tall, had a very small brain, roughly 385cc, which compared to the modern ~1400 cc meant lower mental capacity. The species had other primitive features including long arms and unarched feet, which evolutionarily provided species with better jungle movement. Although, the most surprising evidence found was the presence of stone tools near the remains. Which begged the major question how was it this species with the small brain size were intelligent enough to utilize/create them. Further more was this the reason that this species lived as long as it did, especially compared to the physically similar species Australopithecus afarensis which went extinct thousands of years prior.

In lecture we learned that one hypothesis is that H. floresiensis small size is due to the island idea of evolutionary dwarfism, and that brain development shows a decline in evolution, from a larger smarter species, due to the limited resources. However an article in The Guardian by  Mckie article discusses another hypothesis, one in which the species did not shrink but rather started off that way is a direct descendent of the genus homo that left Africa originally.

Both of these hypothesis provides researchers helpful insights into the evolutionary stages. But no matter which hypothesis is correct in terms of their specific evolutionary past; evolution from a more developed species or a species that evolved directly from the species Homo that left Africa, it provides insight into both evolution and diversity of the species Homo.

The species was around during a time when all other species had very different characteristics, which shows huge diversity in human diversity. At the same time were the Denisovans which had larger brain sizes, larger statures and in general were less primitive. Today only we remain as a non-primitive species. The ability of, or notion, where two different distinct species could have been around shows greatly how evolution varies.  Some evolutionist say changes are more abrupt while others argue for a more linear trend(mostly ascension) Homo floresiensis goes almost against both of these as they were around for a long time span, and were able to accomplish more than what was thought of such a primitive species. Which is what I think the species has taught us the most. Because it has us asking the most questions. How did they get to the island, when, did they have interactions with other species, what happened to them? The only definitive thing known is that they were distinct from other species of their time and yet flourished.

9 thoughts on “Blog Six: H. floresiensis

  1. Casandra,
    I really enjoyed that you went beyond the class lectures and looked at the articles and compared two different hypotheses. I think its so interesting that their can be many different opinions on how one event occurred and what it meant for the future. I think that we can learn a lot from these early ancestors of ours. It’s incredible to think that as a species, at one time we were so primitive. How strange that our ancestors were only 3 feet tall and had smaller brains when as a species we are now the most intelligent. The way that you blog was outlined allowed me to clearly see an evolutionary change in humans across time. It makes me wonder what people will look like hundreds of thousands of years from now.

  2. I also wrote about Homo floresiensis this week. I thought the discoveries made by anthropologists in Flores, Indonesia really changed how we think about evolution and the species leading up to modern day humans. I thought the theory of evolutionary dwarfism was especially interesting. I had never heard of that theory before, of there being an actual decline in evolution. I agree with the other theory more, which says that H. floresiensis started off that size instead of shrinking. You’re right in that this species, along with the Denisovans, really show how much diversity existed within the Homo genus at the time. Another reason this species fascinated me is because of how long they were isolated on that island. The isolation reminds me of the Galapagos Islands and how many animals there have evolved. However, there was not much evidence that H. floresiensis had evolved at all, which leaves me with more questions about the species.

  3. Hi,
    I definitely agree that this week’s lesson on Neanderthals was interesting as well. I learned about Neanderthals a few times in middle school and a little bit in high school. However, after taking this course I am a lot more knowledgeable about Neanderthals, and the earlier species that walked the Earth. The appearance of Neanderthals caught my interest. Their physical qualities were so closely related to humans that it is definitely understandable how they were a huge aspect in human evolution. Also, their emotional and mental characteristics are highly similar to humans as well. Neanderthals were nurturing to those around them, and were able to assist in an injured being’s healing. I think that this week’s lesson was one of the most informative, yet interesting.

  4. Hello,
    Learning about the Homo Floresiensis species was very interesting. I also focused my blog post this week on this because I heard of the term “Hobbit”, but I never knew the originating meaning behind it. Learning that Homo Floresiensis were from Flores, Indonesia explains the origin in the name “Floresiensis”. Also, their small size and seeing their appearance makes looks very similar if not identical to many of the characters in movies that are referred to as “hobbits” because of their small body stature and frame. Outside of their height, one of the most interesting features that I read about with the Homo Floresiensis is their small child-like jaw and face, yet they had teeth that were of adult size. I enjoyed week six’s lesson.

  5. Hi!

    I thought the island hypothesis of evolutionary dwarfism in relation to H. floresiensis was quite interesting as well. When learning about H. floresiensis, I initally found it a little peculiar that the species is sometimes referred to as “hobbits”, but after reading about the island hypothesis it actually makes quite a lot of sense and is a little bit humorous.
    It’s also really quite fascinating that the brain development also shows a decline in evolution. I think it’s really interesting that brain size is related to a species’ evolutionary traits and that species are more or less intelligent depending on their brain size and development. It’s not something I had put too much thought into before taking this course.

    I like that you asked at the end of your post how the species got to the island, when they did, what happened to them and then asked about their interactions. These are all really important questions that I too pondered this week.

  6. Super excited that you decided to talk about Homo floresiensis. Mainly because I feel like I didn’t pay as close attention to this species as I did with Neanderthals. So, I’m really glad I decided to respond to your post because it’s really well written and gives the reader an awesome perspective on this species. I particularly enjoyed your last paragraph. It’s really great that you decided to touch on the aspect of human diversity. It’s cool that you pointed out how much evolution has varied throughout time. It’s interesting to think that, this species could be what we’ve learned the most from. I definitely agree that they’re an impressive species. I mean, their ability to survive and adapt makes them an ideal topic of study for us to learn more and more about the evolution of humans and how we’ve transformed into the impressive species we are today.

  7. My post is about Neanderthal, so I did not do many research on Homo floresiensis. After reading your post, I have a better understanding of H. floresiensis’ unique features and behaviors, and I really appreciate that you give so many details about Floresiensis! It is interesting that H. floresiensis were three foot tall with primitive features, and only 358 cc of brain sizes. I was also wonder how they had the knowledge of making and using stone tools with extremely small brain? Especially how they got to other island? If this were the case, that means they knew how to make boats to cross the ocean at that time! I agree with you that no matter which one hypothesis is the correct one, the discovery of H.floresiensis showed the diversity of human species.

  8. Hi Casandra,

    I believe another interesting idea raised by the discovery of Homo Floresiensis is that they lived at the same time as modern homo sapiens. The idea that they may have had contact with one another is very interesting to think about. One theory is that the modern Homo Sapiens would have killed them if they did have any type of contact with each other. Another theory about what happened to Homo Floresiensis is that a volcanic eruption is what ended them. Even if the modern Homo Sapiens did contact them, what if they did not kill them? What if it was them that brought the tools that researchers believe were a bit too complex for the small brains of Homo Floresiensis. No matter what, their discovery has been influential simply because, as you said, of all of the questions they raised.

  9. Hi, I first wanted to say I thought you did a really effective job explaining some of the key information about Homo floresiensis from this week’s lesson. It’s very interesting that these people were around for so long on that island– scientists believe they were around until at least 17,000 years ago. The discussion about whether they could use their own tools with their limited mental capacity is fascinating. I know that one theory for the extinction of Homo floresiensis is that Homo sapiens showed up and of course, with our track record, it isn’t hard to think that Homo sapiens could have killed off floresiensis. I think there are two possible theories to explain the tools, assuming they indeed did not have the mental capacity to make and use them. First, it’s possible that they had learned to make and use the tools before evolution had shrunken their brain and had maintained the knowledge via word of mouth from generation to generation. Or I think it’s possible that when Homo sapiens first interacted with the floresiensis hominoids, if they indeed did interact, they could have taught them to make and use the tools.

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