After reviewing the lectures, articles, and video links from this chapter I have chosen to write about the both the details and scientific impact of the discovery of very small human-apes on an Indonesia island about 12 years ago. In 2004, the bones of a tiny primitive people that used stone tools, hunted small elephants, and survived in the midst of large Komodo dragons were discovered. The remains found belonged to a species that stood three feet tall and had a brain the size of an orange. Because the bones found belonged to a person of such small stature some dismiss these findings as a genetic deformation and not indicative of what the rest of the population looked like. Most researchers disagree with this dismissal. The main group of thought pins these people as descendants of a race of far larger humans, named Homo Erectus, that thrived about a million years ago. They argue that this species underwent something known as island dwarfism. This is where a species is stranded on an island with limited resources and few natural predators. Over a very long period of time, the species shrinks as a result of the limited food available.
Recently though, a new theory has emerged explaining the origins of this species, Homo floreseinsis, found on an Indonesian island. This growing community of scientists theorize that Homo floresiensis is probably a direct descendant of some of the first apemen to evolve on the African savannah three million years ago. That would mean that these primitive hominoids somehow managed to travel halfway across the world from their probably birthplace in the Rift Valley. Although it seems unlikely that this primitive species would have been capable of migrating that far even over great periods of time, the anthropological evidence supporting this theory is startling. First off, the species found is physically eerily similar to the Lucy, the 3.2 million year old member of Australopithecus afarensis. She also had a very small brain, primitive wrists, similar feet and teeth and was only little over 3 feet tall. The key point about this theory is that it explains more fully why Homo floresiensis was so small. This species did not shrink because they were stranded on an island, but because they were descended from a long line of small ape-like hominoids. In research that provides further support for this idea, scientists have recently dated some stone tools from the Indonesian isle as being around 1.1 million years old, far older than had been previously supposed. Further in depth scientific analysis shows that Homo floresiensis most closely resembles hominoid ancestors that first appeared in Africa over 2 million years ago. Scientists also have a couple of theories as to what caused this resilient ancestor of ours to die out. The last known H. floresiensis died out about 17,000 years ago. Geologists have discovered a layer of volcanic ash that corresponds with the same time period as the last living members of this species. They think a volcanic eruption and the ensuing ash caused the end for this hominoid. Another group of scientists believe it was not a volcanic eruption that ended their existence, but that the earliest Homo sapiens, who had migrated to that area of the world around the same time, probably had killed them.