Saturday, July 29, 2017

Homo Floresiensis Uncovered

  I've been waiting months for this class to begin. So I am very happy to announce that it has started! I've completed the first week and will update this post with class notes as I progress. Good stuff!

Homo Floresiensis Uncovered - University of Wollongong

Professor Richard G. Roberts, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Science at the University of Wollongong and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow

Professor Zenobia Jacobs, Director of the Luminescence Dating Laboratory at the University of Wollongong and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow

24 July - 3 September 2017, FutureLearn


Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago Nature article

Assignment: Local Archaeological Finds student map

Pre-contact hoe Chicago History Museum

Liang Bua Virtual Tour Smithsonian 3D

'Hobbits' on Flores, Indonesia Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Homo Floresiensis news at

Local Manggarai language:
Liang  = cave
Bua = cold/cool
Golo = hill
Wae = river


North American Arrowhead Identification Database website

  The megafauna that existed alongside Homo floresiensis include the giant rat, Komodo dragon, Marabou stork, large vulture and Stegodon. The giant rat and Komodo dragon still exist in Flores today. The Marabou stork, large vulture and Stegodon are now extinct and disappeared around the same time as the Hobbit.

Ebu gogo Wiki entry

Flake (silcrete) 3D model
Retouched flake (silcrete) 3D model
Core (silcrete) 3D model

Local Manggarai language:
Betu = giant rat

Marabou Stork

Marabou stork (Photo: © National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo) and remains (Photo: © Liang Bua Team/ARKENAS & The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History) 


Assignment: Local Dating Method
   C14, University of Chicago, Egyptian mummy Mask, wood, Ptolemaic period
Photo by Jean Lachat 

New evidence pushes back time of disappearance of Indonesian ‘hobbits' - University of Wollongong media release

Age and context of the oldest known hominin fossils from Flores NATURE article preview

Liang Bua Sediments Summary 

MM7 (deeper)
Cracks and voids indicate burrowing by insects or worms, or the penetration of roots by vegetation. The grey layer consists of volcanic ash blown into the cave during and/or after a volcanic eruption.

Distinctive burnt layer (consisting of fine-grained brown silts, coarse particles, limestone gravel, baked pieces of clay and charcoal) indicates evidence of fire use. The calcium carbonate layer consists of wood ash.

MM4 (shallower)
Presence of black material (manganese oxide) produced by water percolating through bat droppings (which are highly acidic) on to flowstones (calcium carbonate).


Homo Floresiensis Characteristics

Small canines
Foramen magnum (area for the spinal cord) tucked underneath the skull, not positioned more posteriorly (as in a quadruped).
Remarkably small brain
Constriction behind the eye orbits where the cranium is narrowed (not present in modern humans)
Interesting mandible: full set of adult dentition, including all three permanent molars (evidence that it is an adult, not a child)
Stature approximately 106 cm tall
Body proportions very different to modern humans
Similar body proportions to Australopithecus afarensis (3 million years old) from East Africa
Arms and legs are more similar in overall length than in modern humans
Laterally flaring pelvis (upper part of the pelvis flares out to the side)
Proportionately long feet
Longer toes (more like mini fingers)

Current scientific understandings of Liang Bua and Homo Floresiensis

Fossil remains at Liang Bua have been dated to between about 100, 000 and 60, 000 years old
Artefacts have been dated to as early as 190, 000 years ago (at the back of the cave) through to about 50, 000 years ago (nearer the entrance)
The Hobbit likely lived at the site from around 190, 000 years ago
It is thought that the Hobbit survived until as late as about 50, 000 years ago
The Hobbit is definitely a new human species
The type specimen (original skeleton) of the Hobbit is about 106 cm tall, but other specimens of hobbits found in the cave are shorter
A volcanic ash layer was identified above where hobbits are thought to have gone extinct
Hobbits lived with a whole range of animals that we no longer see around us today (e.g. Stegodon, giant Marabou stork, vulture)
Modern humans were passing through Southeast Asia en route to Australia at about the same time that the hobbits went extinct (50, 000 years ago)

A recent article on Homo Floresiensis, published in the USA: Science Daily 21 April 2017
   The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed.
-Australian National University 


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