Monday, March 31, 2008

Flores Hobbit-Like Human

Flores Hobbit-Like Human pictures galleryScientist Peter Brown photographs the skull of Homo floresiensis, a species of human that is new to science.

This encounter between a modern human and Homo floresiensis (the 18,000-year-old skull) may have had ancient precedents. Some researchers believe that, because the hobbit-like humans lived at the same time and in the same general region as modern humans for at least 20,000 years, the two species may well have met face-to-face. Local legends on Flores mention tiny people who live in caves.

Flores Hobbit-Like Human images galleryThis grapefruit-size Homo floresiensis skull is apparently from a 30-year-old female who lived 18,000 years ago on Flores, an island in Indonesia. The small brain suggests that the new human species is not a pygmy Homo sapiens but rather a descendant of Homo erectus.

Flores Hobbit-Like Human photos galleryHomo floresiensis alongside Homo sapiens. The new species of human's adult size was about that of a three-year-old modern-human child. The skull of H. floresienses was the size of a grapefruit.

Flores Hobbit-Like Human pics gallery
A male Homo floresiensis returns from the hunt. Found on the island of Flores in Indonesia, these ancient humans grew no taller than a three-year-old modern-human child. Their small size led scientists to nickname the species "hobbits," after the tiny Lord of the Rings characters. The first such individual found was female. Since then at least seven individuals have been found, including males.

Flores Hobbit-Like Human galleryThe Indonesian island Flores lies between Australia and Asia.

Scientists suggest that the new species of tiny humans may have descended from large-body Homo erectus humans who made it across the sea to colonize Flores. Once on Flores, the ancient humans could have "dwarfed," an evolutionary response that has been seen in other mammals in isolated environments with little food and no predators.