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New Flores Fossils May Be Hobbit Ancestors

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Flores Mata MengeWOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA—Six teeth and a jawbone fragment thought to belong to ancestors of Homo floresiensis, the hominin often referred to as the "hobbit," have been discovered at a site called Mata Menge on the Indonesian island of Flores. The fossils represent at least one adult and two children of small stature who lived 600,000 years earlier than Homo floresiensis. Gert van den Bergh of the University of Wollongong and colleagues argue that this ancient human relative descended from Homo erectus individuals who arrived on the island and shrank over a period of about 300,000 years, perhaps because they were challenged by few predators and thus did not have a need for a big brain. “But what is clear is that they made stone tools, so they weren’t stupid,” van den Bergh said in an ABC News report. He recovered the fossils from an ancient riverbed that had been covered and preserved by a volcanic mudflow. His team will continue to look for additional fossils, such as wrist bones and skulls, for more information on possible Homo floresiensis ancestors. To read about another discovery in Indonesia, go to "The First Artists."

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