Blog Six: Our Tiny Ancestors

Homo floresiensis was an interesting discovery as a group of people who migrated from Africa long before our Homo sapiens ancestors. The fossil record reflects that the group was hobbit-like with an extremely small stature of about three feet in height and an appearance that was more ape-like than someone you would recognize in your neighborhood. Their facial features had a very chimp-like appearance and they had short legs and long, flat feet. It is amazing that this group left Africa over one million years ago and were capable of traveling thousands of miles across southern Asia. More amazing is their presence on the Isle of Flores which means they had to traverse the open sea or might have been carried off land by a tsunami or violent storm to land safely on the island where they would live relatively undisturbed for hundreds of thousands of years. Their use of stone tools indicates significant use of their mental capacity and their ability to utilize their environmental resources was amazing. These small people obviously maintain a stable culture to survive so long in isolation and with newly discovered resources. The fact that they apparently remained relatively unchanged physically over so many years can be attributed to their isolation on the small island without significant differences in evolutionary pressure that would select for genetic variance over time. They must have had the optimal physical structure for this environment to last so long before their demise. Since they disappeared about 17 thousand years ago, we have to suggest a massive catastrophe like a volcanic eruption that destroyed the environment that had been so stable. Alternatively, it is frightening to consider that our ancestors, early Homo sapiens, might have found their way onto Flores and violently eliminated these ancient ancestors due to competition for the resources that were available.

The findings of Homo floresiensis have indicated that human diversity takes many forms. Although these small hobbits are our relatives with a very strange appearance, their activities rival the major migrations of Homo sapiens hundreds of thousands of years later. Their perseverance to survive must have been stimulated by major pressure forcing them from their prior environment to find a more suitable and safe haven for survival. As Homo sapiens traversed the globe they must have met with obstacles like those encountered by Homo floresiensis and both groups were able to overcome their challenges. Although we may not show genetic material, the considerations of how our ancestors survived and lived their daily lives gives an indication of how we might have met similar challenges. Even though these small people had less mental capacity than modern man, they were capable of living cohesively and managing safety, food, and shelter. Without natural enemies or significant predators, they probably had found a far more suitable niche for their population. Homo floresiensis is an excellent example of how human evolution can have little impact on a population without environmental pressure. We should expect that a stable environment would result in relative stability over time with respect to mutation and associated natural selection. Scientists were fortunate to discover these ancient people in order to be able to examine their lives that existed in one place for over a million years.

9 thoughts on “Blog Six: Our Tiny Ancestors

  1. I agree the idea that this species migrated from Africa is mind boggling, truly they must have been something like humans because I can’t think of any other hominid that would migrate so far as Homo Floresiensis did. I wonder about that small brains size everyone makes so much of too. Is it really conclusive science that a larger brain means more intelligence? If that were true it would mean modern man is dumber than Neanderthals were. Or is it more likely that brain size alone is not a determinate of absolute intelligence? Which then makes me really wonder what the culture of the “hobbits” may have been like. Certainly their tools are not as advanced as homo sapiens they must have had some kind of society to have persisted so long. I was quite impressed with your conclusion, even though we do not share genetic material, Homo Floresiensis are a species whose footsteps we followed, it is amazing to think our ancestors and the “hobbits” both lived at the same time.

  2. Hi! Good job on your post! I like how you chose to write about Homo floresiensis as your focus, I found them very interesting and meaningful for us to study. Have you noticed that they had much much smaller brain sizes? Throughout the evolution, it looks like brain size is always connected to how smart the individual/group is. It’s amazing that Homo floresiensis had the same flexibility to use tools like other homos. In contrast, Neanderthals had bigger brain sizes but they weren’t any smarter. Neanderthals even had a short time period overlapping with the “smart species,” the modern human beings, but they weren’t flexible enough to learn anything from them and found a way to survive. Overall, good job! I enjoyed reading you post:)

  3. I wrote about Homo floresiensis this week, too! I just couldn’t get over how interesting this species is. From being isolated on an island for so long to their short stature and small brains, there is so much we can learn from this species. I agree with you that is amazing how this species was able to leave Africa and make it to Indonesia given their mental and physical limitations. This really made scientists rethink some of their previous theories of how species were able to leave Africa. I kind of disagree with you where you said that H. floresiensis must have had an optimal physical structure to survive so long. I suspect that perhaps there were not many predators in the area and they may have survived by pure luck or chance. Especially once they made it to Indonesia, they were pretty isolated on that island.

  4. I really liked how you mentioned the travel of the Homo Floresiensis in your post. I too wrote about H. Floresiensis, but I did not note it in mine, it was something I almost forgot about. It is amazing that this group left Africa very early and then managed to find their way, perhaps unwillingly, to the small island of Flores. They are a surprisingly long lasting species, and managed to survive despite their small brains. These small brains were very intriguing because they still managed to use tools, which scientist thought was not possible at first. I like how you stated that because of their isolation they were able to find a suitable niche for them. With less outside influence because of how isolated the island was, they were able to thrive for so many years.

  5. I really liked how you mentioned the travel of the Homo Floresiensis in your post. I too wrote about H. Floresiensis, but I did not note it in mine, it was something I almost forgot about. It is amazing that this group left Africa very early and then managed to find their way, perhaps unwillingly, to the small island of Flores. They are a surprisingly long lasting species, and managed to survive despite their small brains. These small brains were very intriguing because they still managed to use tools, which scientist thought was not possible at first. I like how you stated that because of their isolation they were able to find a suitable niche for them. With less outside influence because of how isolated the island was, they were able to thrive for so many years.

  6. I really liked how you mentioned the travel of the Homo Floresiensis in your post. I too wrote about H. Floresiensis, but I did not note it in mine, it was something I almost forgot about. It is amazing that this group left Africa very early and then managed to find their way, perhaps unwillingly, to the small island of Flores. They are a surprisingly long lasting species, and managed to survive despite their small brains. These small brains were very intriguing because they still managed to use tools, which scientist thought was not possible at first. I like how you stated that because of their isolation they were able to find a suitable niche for them. With less outside influence because of how isolated the island was, they were able to thrive for so many years.

  7. I really liked how you mentioned the travel of the Homo Floresiensis in you post. I too wrote about H. Floresiensis, but I did not note it in mine, it was something I almost forgot about. It is amazing that this group left Africa very early and then managed to find their way, perhaps unwillingly, to the small island of Flores. They are a surprisingly long lasting species, and managed to survive despite their small brains. These small brains were very intriguing because they still managed to use tools, which scientists thought was not possible at first. I like how you stated that because of their isolation they were able to find a suitable niche for themselves. With less outside influence because of how isolated the island was, they were able to thrive for so many years.

  8. I really liked how you mentioned the travel of the Homo Floresiensis in you post. I too wrote about H. Floresiensis, but I did not note it in mine, it was something I almost forgot about. It is amazing that this group left Africa very early and then managed to find their way, perhaps unwillingly, to the small island of Flores. They are a surprisingly long lasting species, and managed to survive despite their small brains. These small brains were very intriguing because they still managed to use tools, which scientists thought was not possible at first. I like how you stated that because of their isolation they were able to find a suitable niche for themselves. With less outside influence because of how isolated the island was, they were able to thrive for so many years.

  9. Homo floresisensis is very interesting to me also because these people who were basically midgets can ultimately why we have little people walking the earth today. I like to think that there maybe is a gene that some of us humans carry with us from these so called little people. Maybe it isn’t really a birth defect. These people made it work with what they had on a small isolated island and it really showed what we beings are capable of doing even with less materials then the other homo sapiens that lived during that time. I really liked how you showed different example throughout your post and how you weren’t just repeating yourself throughout the post it really shows that you know how to write.

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