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Homo floresiensis

Author(s): NANCY MORENO, PHD; DEANNE ERDMANN, MS; AND SONIA RAHMATI CLAYTON, PHD
Homo floresiensis

Homo floresiensis (the "Hobbit")
Ryan Somma

The discovery of remains belonging to a new short-statured, human-like species is causing a stir among anthropologists. The new species is named Homo floresiensis, after the Indonesian island (Flores Island), east of Java, where the skeleton of a three-foot tall adult female was discovered. The diminutive skeleton shares several important characteristics with modern humans, Homo sapiens, including a small, delicate face, small teeth, and adaptations for walking on two legs. Members of the Homo floresiensis species apparently also created and used tools, a particularly surprising discovery given the smaller size of their brains. However, the skeleton also displays some features typical of Homo erectus, the closest known relative to Homo sapiens. The remains have been dated to only 18,000 years ago, but investigators hypothesize that ancestors of Homo floresiensis may have reached the island as long as one million years ago.

This exciting discovery is described in two articles in volume 431 of the journal, Nature. The following Nature news stories (on BioEd Online) summarize the research reports and provide various points of view on how Homo floresiensis will reshape thinking about human evolution.

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