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New Research Suggests Hobbits Died Out 50,000 Years Ago

Thursday, March 31, 2016

hobbits new datesWOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA—Recent excavations in Liang Bua Cave on the Indonesian island of Flores have led to new dates for Homo floresiensis, a diminutive human species dubbed the “hobbit.” Most of the fossils recovered in 2003 from deposits in the cave dated to 18,000 years ago, while fragments of other individuals were found in layers dated to 95,000 years ago and 12,000 years ago. The new information, gathered between 2007 and 2014, suggests that all of the Homo floresiensis fossils are between 100,000 and 60,000 years old. “As we extended our original excavations each year, it became increasingly clear that there was a large remnant pedestal of older deposits truncated by an erosional surface that sloped steeply toward the cave mouth,” Thomas Sutikna of the University of Wollongong and the National Research Center for Archaeology (Indonesia) said in a press release. These older sediments were covered by much younger sediments. “Unfortunately, the ages of these overlying sediments were originally thought to apply to the ‘hobbit’ remains, but our continuing excavations and analyses revealed that this was not the case,” Wahyu Saptomo of the National Research Center explained. The scientists now think Homo floresiensis died out some 50,000 years ago. To read more about recent work on human evolution, go to "Our Tangled Ancestry."

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