Fossilised remains of small-bodied hominins found on the Indonesian island of Flores have been dated to around 700,000 years old and are believed to be the ancestors of the mysterious and diminutive Homo floresiensis – AKA the hobbit.
Two papers published today in the journal Nature describe and date the remains as well as animal fossils and tools found at the same site.
Additional materials are needed to assign the newly discovered hominins to a branch of the Homo genus family tree, but the size and shape of the fossils suggest that they could be ancestors of H. floresiensis. Furthermore, the two studies support the view that H. floresiensis is a dwarfed descendent of Homo erectus.
Associate Professor Brent Alloway, of the University of Auckland’s School of Geography, was involved in the excavation and, speaking to the New Zealand Herald, said the opportunity to work on such ancient deposits was “just mind-boggling.”
National coverage of the research includes:
New Zealand Herald: Find confirms Hobbit as a species
Newshub: More ‘Hobbit’ remains found on Flores
Stuff.co.nz New fossils push ‘hobbit’ story back to 700,000 years ago
New Zealand Herald: Likely ancestor of mystery ‘hobbit’ found