Tag: homo floresiensis

New prehistoric human discovered in Taiwan

human jaw fossil found in Taiwan
“Penghu 1,” the newly discovered human with large teeth, is another piece of critical evidence suggesting that other humans besides Homo sapiens lived in Asia from 200,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Excerpt from sciencerecorder.com

Paleontologists have identified the first known prehistoric human specimen from Taiwan, which may have been part of a species that lived alongside modern humans until as recently as 10,000 years ago.
“Penghu 1,” the newly discovered human with large teeth, is another piece of critical evidence suggesting that other humans besides Homo sapiens lived in Asia from 200,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Among the species that lived in Europe within that period were Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo floresiensis The Penghu 1, which has been described in the most recent issue of Nature Communications, has added to that sizable list of humans that may have lived with and interbred with modern humans.

“The available evidence at least does not exclude the possibility that they survived until the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, and it is tempting to speculate about their possible contact,” said the study’s co-author Yousuke Kaifu, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Tokyo, to Discovery News.
Kaifu, along with the paper’s lead author Chun-Hsiang Chang, and their team have studied the new human’s remains, primarily a jawbone that still contains big teeth. The jawbone was found by fishermen off the Taiwanese coast in the Penghu Channel. They then sold it to a local antique shop where it was found and bought by the collector Kun-Yu Tsai, who donated his collection to the National Museum of Natural Science in Taiwan. It then caught the eye of Chang, who works at the museum as a geologist.
Chang and his team now believe that the Penghu 1 could suggest a new species of human or at least a distinct regional group of Homo erectus. He suspects that the jawbone belonged to an elderly adult due to the worn state of the teeth. Unlike Homo floresiensis, the Penghu 1 grew to adult stature and lived on the Asian mainland.
“The associated faunal remains suggest that the area was a relatively open, wet woodland,” said Kaifu. “This is because of the presence of large-bodied mammals, such as elephants (Stegodon), horses and bear, but the fauna also included animals that prefer marshlands in a hot and humid climate, such as water buffaloes.”
All of these aspects would seem very attractive to modern humans, as well as the prehistoric humans they co-existed with. Although Penghu 1 is clearly not a modern human, its jaw bears many similarities to Homo erectus. Very little is known about human evolution in Asia, so this is a considerably welcome discovery, as fossils from much earlier periods discovered in China have offered valuable insights into what a Cretaceous ecosystem looked like. There are also many similarities between Penghu 1 and the Peking Man remains from Zhoukoudian, China, although the former appears to be much more primitive. It has also been compared to the archaic Homo heidelbergensis and also Denisovan remains.

View Article Here   Read More

Are Hobbits Real? Who are the Hobbits Discovered on the Island of Flores, Indonesia?

Archeological excavations at Liang Bua.


A tiny hominin found on the island of Flores, Indonesia has shaken up the world of paleoanthropology. Human Origins scientist Matt Tocheri explains why.

The Island of Flores

Flores is one of many Wallacean islands, which lie east of Wallace's Line and west of Lydekker's Line.  Wallacean islands are interesting because they have rarely, if ever, been connected via land bridges to either the Asian continent to the west or the Greater Australian continent to the east.  This longstanding separation from the surrounding continents has severely limited the ability of animal species to disperse either into or away from the Wallacean islands.  Thus, on Flores there were only a small number of mammal and reptile species during the entire Pleistocene.  These included komodo dragons and other smaller monitor lizards, crocodiles, several species of Stegodon (an extinct close relative of modern elephants), giant tortoise, and several kinds of small, medium, and large-bodied rats.

Map showing the location of Flores relative to the Wallace Line and Lydekker's Line and the Pleistocene coastlines of the Asian and Greater Australian continents.
Map showing the location of Flores relative to the Wallace Line and Lydekker's Line and the Pleistocene coastlines of the Asian and Greater Australian continents.
During the 1950s and 60s, a Dutch priest named Father Theodor Verhoeven lived and worked on Flores at a Catholic Seminary.  Verhoeven had a keen interest in archeology and had studied it at university.  While living on Flores, he identified dozens of archeological sites and conducted excavations at many of these, including the now famous site of Liang Bua where the "hobbits" of human evolution were discovered (Homo floresiensis).  Verhoeven was the first to report and publish that stone tools were found in association with Stegodon remains in central Flores at several sites within the Soa Basin.  He even argued that Homo erectus from Java was likely behind making the stone tools found on Flores and may have reached the island around 750,000 years ago.  At the time, paleoanthropologists took little notice of Verhoeven's claims or if they did, they discounted them outright.

Father Verhoeven sitting near the site of one of his excavations on Flores at the Soa Basin during the 1960s. Image from Verhoeven, 1968.
Father Verhoeven sitting near the site of one of his excavations on Flores at the Soa Basin during the 1960s. Image from Verhoeven, 1968.

Almost thirty years later, an Indonesian-Dutch research team uncovered evidence at the Soa Basin which confirmed Verhoeven's original findings.  This team even went further by dating some of the stone tools and fossils using paleomagnetism (a method of determining the age of ancient sediments) and showed they were probably around 700,000 years old.  These new findings did not become widely known within the paleoanthropological community until additional sediments were dated using a different technique called zircon fission-track analysis.  Thus, by the late 1990s more scientists were beginning to accept the possibility that another human species (likely Homo erectus) had crossed the Wallace Line and reached Flores well before our own species, Homo sapiens, had evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago.
In 2001, an Indonesian-Australian research team began excavations at a large limestone cave located in west central Flores.  This cave, known as Liang Bua (which means "cool cave"), was first excavated by Father Verhoeven in 1965.  Professor Raden Soejono, the leading archeologist in Indonesia, heard about Liang Bua from Verhoeven and conducted six different excavations there from the late 1970s until 1989.  All of this early work at Liang Bua only explored deposits that occurred within the first three meters of the cave floor.  These deposits are dated to within the last 10,000 years and contain considerable archeological and faunal evidence of modern human use of the cave, as well as skeletal remains of modern humans.  However, in 2001 the new goals were to excavate deeper into the cave's stratigraphy to explore if modern or pre-modern humans were using Liang Bua prior to 10,000 years ago.  In September of 2003, they got their answer.

The Discovery of Homo floresiensis
On Saturday, September 6, 2003, Indonesian archeologist Wahyu Saptomo was overseeing the excavation of Sector VII at Liang Bua.  Benyamin Tarus, one of the locally hired workers, was excavating the 2 x 2 meter square when all of a sudden the top of a skull began to reveal itself.  Six meters beneath the surface of the cave, Wahyu immediately joined Benyamin and the two of them slowly and carefully removed some more sediment from around the top of the skull.  Wahyu then asked Indonesian faunal expert Rokus Due Awe to inspect the excavated portion of the skull.  Rokus told Wahyu that the skull definitely belonged to a hominin and most likely that of a small child given the size of its braincase.  Two days later, the team returned to the site and Thomas Sutikna, the Indonesian archeologist in charge of the excavations, joined Wahyu at the bottom of the square.  After several days, enough of the cranium and mandible had been exposed for Rokus to realize that this was no small child; instead, all of its teeth were permanent meaning that this was a fully grown adult.  A few weeks later, the team had recovered the rest of this hominin's partial skeleton, the likes of which had never been discovered before.  Today, this specimen is referred to as LB1 (Liang Bua 1), and is the holotype specimen for the species Homo floresiensis.

Thomas Sutikna (blue hat) and Benyamin Tarus (white hat) at Liang Bua work to uncover the partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis in 2003.
Thomas Sutikna (blue hat) and Benyamin Tarus (white hat) at Liang Bua work to uncover the partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis in 2003.

At the time of the discovery, the Liang Bua Research Team included specialists in archeology, geochronology, and faunal identification, but there was no physical anthropologist.  Dr. Mike Morwood, the co-leader of the project, invited his colleague at the University of New England in Australia, Dr. Peter Brown, to lead the description and analysis of the skeletal remains.  Dr. Brown is an expert on cranial, mandibular, and dental anatomy of early and modern humans and he agreed to apply his expertise to the study of the new bones from Liang Bua.  This important scientific work resulted in the first descriptions of these skeletal remains in the journal Nature on October 28, 2004.  This work also gave the scientific name, Homo floresiensis, to the hominin species that is represented by the skeletal material from the Late Pleistocene sediments at Liang Bua. 

The holotype specimen of Homo floresiensis.
The holotype specimen of Homo floresiensis.

Just before the two Nature articles on Homo floresiensis were published in 2004, the Liang Bua Research Team uncovered additional skeletal material.  This included the arm bones of LB1, and several bones of another individual, LB6, including the mandible and other bones of the arm.  Drs. Morwood and Brown, and other Indonesian and Australian members of the Liang Bua Research Team, described and analyzed these new skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis and again published their results in Nature on October 13, 2005.
The skeletal evidence suggests that adults of this species had extremely small brains (400 cubic centimeters), stood only about 1 meter (3'6") tall, and weighed around 30 kg (66 lbs).  For their height, these individuals have large body masses, and in this regard appear more similar to earlier hominins like "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) than they do to modern humans, including small and large-bodied people.  The proportions between the upper arm (humerus) and upper leg (femur) also appear more similar to those in Australopithecus and Homo habilis than those of modern humans.

Further Research

As additional postcranial material of Homo floresiensis was being recovered, Dr. Morwood contacted Dr. Susan Larson and Dr. William Jungers, of Stony Brook University Medical Center.  Drs. Larson and Jungers are experts on human evolutionary anatomy, particularly with regard to the functional morphology of the arms and legs.  Dr. Larson has shown that the shoulder of Homo floresiensis is more like that in Homo erectus rather than modern humans, and Dr. Jungers has demonstrated many anatomical features of the "hobbit" foot that are shared with African apes and early hominins like Australopithecus afarensis (e.g., "Lucy").  Dr. Morwood also invited hominin brain expert Dr. Dean Falk to analyze the endocast of Homo floresiensis.  Dr. Falk has identified several features in the "hobbit" brain that suggest neural reorganization despite its overall small size.  Additional research focused on the paleobiology and archeology of Homo floresiensis by Drs. Morwood, Brown, Larson, Jungers, Falk, their many Indonesian colleagues, and a large international network of scientific experts, was recently published in a special issue of Journal of Human Evolution (November 2009).  Discussions and summaries of some of the work included in that special issue will be presented on this web page over the coming weeks and months.   
In total, over a dozen scientific articles have been published based on analysis of the original skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis, and hundreds of scientific articles and news stories about Homo floresiensis have appeared in print or on the web during the past seven years since the partial skeleton of LB1 was discovered.  As excavations at Liang Bua and elsewhere on Flores continue, we will keep you up-to-date on the latest discoveries and scientific analyses of materials related to Homo floresiensis, the so-called "hobbits" of human evolution.  One of our Human Origins Program researchers, Dr. Matt Tocheri who has studied the wrist of Homo floresiensis, is looking forward to taking part in excavations this coming summer at Liang Bua and the Soa Basin.

The Liang Bua Excavation Team Leaders in 2009, from left to right, Dr. Kira Westaway, Jatmiko, Dr. Mike Morwood, Dr. Matt Tocheri, Thomas Sutikna, Wahyu Saptomo, Kompyang, Rok
The Liang Bua Excavation Team Leaders in 2009, from left to right, Dr. Kira Westaway, Jatmiko, Dr. Mike Morwood, Dr. Matt Tocheri, Thomas Sutikna, Wahyu Saptomo, Kompyang, Rokus Due Awe, and Sri Wasisto.

Argue, D., Donlon, D., Groves, C., Wright, R., 2006. Homo floresiensis: microcephalic, pygmoid, Australopithecus or Homo? Journal of Human Evolution 51, 360–374.
Argue, D., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., 2009. Homo floresiensis: a cladistic analysis. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 623–639.
Aziz, F., van den Bergh, G.D., Morwood, M.J., Hobbs, D.R., Collins, J., Jatmiko, Kurniawan, I., 2009. Excavations at Tangi Talo, central Flores, Indonesia. In: Aziz, F., Morwood, M.J., van den Bergh, G.D. (Eds.), Palaeontology and Archaeology of the Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia. Indonesian Geological Survey Institute, Bandung, pp. 41–58.
Brown, P., Maeda, T., 2009. Liang Bua Homo floresiensis mandibles and mandibular teeth: a contribution to the comparative morphology of a new hominin species. Journal of Human Evolution 57 571–596.
Brown, P., Sutikna, T., Morwood, M.J., Soejono, R.P., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., Rokus Awe Due, 2004. A new small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature 431, 1055–1061.
Falk, D., Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Brown, P., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., Brunsden, B., Prior, F., 2005. The brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis. Science 308, 242–245.
Falk, D., Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Jungers, W., Larson, S., Morwood, M., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Wahyu Saptomo, E., Prior, F., 2009a. The type specimen of Homo floresiensis (LB1) did not have Laron Syndrome. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140, 52–63.
Falk, D., Hildebolt, C., Smith, K., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., Prior, F., 2009b. LB1’s virtual endocast, microcephaly and hominin brain evolution. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 597–607.
Jungers, W.L., Harcourt-Smith, W.E.H., Wunderlich, R.E., Tocheri, M.W., Larson, S.G., Sutikna, T., Rhokus Awe Due, Morwood, M.J., 2009a. The foot of Homo floresiensis. Nature 459, 81–84.
Jungers, W.L., Larson, S.G., Harcourt-Smith, W., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Rokhus Due Awe, Djubiantono, T., 2009b. Descriptions of the lower limb skeleton of Homo floresiensis. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 538–554.
Larson, S.G., Jungers,W., Tocheri, M.W., Orr, C.M., Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Rokhus Due Awe, Djubiantono, T., 2009. Descriptions of the upper limb skeleton of Homo floresiensis. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 555–570.
Morwood, M.J., van Oosterzee, P., 2007. The Discovery of the Hobbit: The Scientific Breakthrough that Changed the Face of Human History. Random House, Sydney, Australia.
Morwood, M.J., Brown, P., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., Westaway, K.E., Roberts, R.G., Rokus Awe Due, Maeda, T., Wasisto, S., Djubiantono, T., 2005. Further evidence for small-bodied hominins from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature 437, 1012–1017.
Morwood, M.J., O’Sullivan, P., Aziz, F., Raza, A., 1998. Fission track age of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores. Nature 392, 173–176.
Morwood, M.J., Soejono, R.P., Roberts, R.G., Sutikna, T., Turney, C.S.M.,Westaway, K.E., Rink, W.J., Zhao, J.-x., van den Bergh, G.D., Rokus Awe Due, Hobbs, D.R., Moore, M.W., Bird, M.I., Fifield, L.K., 2004. Archaeology and age of a new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia. Nature 431, 1087–1091.
Morwood, M.J., Sutikna, T., Saptomo, E.W., Jatmiko, Hobbs, D.R., Westaway, K.E., 2009. Preface: research at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 437–449.
Sondaar, P.Y., van den Bergh, G.D., Mubroto, B., Aziz, F., de Vos, J., Batu Unkap, L., 1994. Middle Pleistocene faunal turnover and colonization of Flores (Indonesia) by Homo erectus. Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Sciences 320, 1255–1262.
Tocheri, M.W., Caley, M., Orr, C.M., Larson, S.G., Sutikna, T., Jatmiko, Saptomo, E.W., Rokus Awe Due, Djubiantono, T., Morwood, M.J., Jungers, W.L., 2007. The primitive wrist of Homo floresiensis and its implications for hominin evolution. Science 317, 1743–1745.
van den Bergh, G.D., Meijer, H.J.M., Rokhus Due Awe, Morwood, M.J., Szabo´ , K., van den Hoek Ostende, L.W., Sutikna, T., Saptomo, E.W., Piper, P.J., Dobney, K.M., 2009. The Liang Bua faunal remains: a 95 k.yr. sequence from Flores, East Indonesia. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 527–537.
van den Bergh, G.D., Mubroto, B., Sondaar, P.Y., de Vos, J., 1996. Did Homo erectus reach the island of Flores? Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin (Chiang Mai Papers) 14, 27–36.
Verhoeven, T., 1953. Eine Mikrolithenkultur in Mittel- und West-Flores. Anthropos 48, 597–612.
Verhoeven, T., 1958. Pleistozane funde in Flores. Anthropos 53, 264–265.
Verhoeven, T. 1968. Pleistozane funde auf Flores, Timor and Sumba. In: Geburtstag von P.W. Schmidt, (Ed.), Anthropica, Gedenkschrift zum 100. Studia Instituti Anthropos 21, St Augustin bei Bonn, pp. 393–403.

View Article Here   Read More

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License
unless otherwise marked.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

Up ↑