Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hobbits: 700,000-year-old mini humans (audio)

Christopher Joyce (NPR); CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly  UPDATED

(NOVA with Robert Krulwich) "The Little People of Flores" - The best thing about the "Hobbits" [Buddhist kumbandhas, Spanish duendes] of Indonesia is that they still exist! Guest: Dr. Jared Diamond (UCLA). 

Kumbhandās are a class of beings (gnomes) in Buddhist cosmology classified with yakkhas (ogres, yetis), rakkhasas (demons, killer yetis), asuras (titans, giants), and others. Virūlha is the regent sky-king overseeing them. They have large bellies (kumbhanda=gourd), and their genitals are also large like pots (kumbho viya), which is how they get their name (D.iii.198; DA.iii.964). 
Fossils suggest that island life shrank our "Hobbit" relatives
Among the hominin fossils found at the Mata Menge site on the Indonesian island of Flores was part of a lower jaw.
Among the hominin fossils found at the Mata Menge site on the Indonesian island of Flores was part of a lower jaw (Kinez Riza/Nature).

Christopher Joyce 2010
Modern ape C. Joyce
It's easy to think that evolution led inevitably to modern humans, the cleverest of apes. But there were some strange excursions along the way. Take, for example, the Hobbits.
That's the nickname for a 3-foot-tall human relative that once lived in what is now Indonesia. A new discovery suggests that it was island life that created this dainty creature.

A reconstruction of Homo floresiensis by Atelier Elisabeth Daynes.
Hobbit: human or ape? (Kinaz Riza/Nature)
[But this is a ridiculous excuse that hides the truth of super ancient human roots and diversity. Forbidden archeology is a name for ignored and hidden evidence for human antiquity, the existence of many offshoots, some of them giants others robust and our presence as Homo sapien sapiens, said to be 30K years old when we go back perhaps 300M years, as Michael Cremo explains to the consternation of gatekeepers promoting Darwinian evolution that is demonstrably mistaken. Because the physical evidence cannot possibly be explained by the favored theory, it cannot possibly exist, but it does, so it is forbidden.]
  • Assuming Hobbits are not human but apes, a reconstruction of Homo floresiensis by Atelier Elisabeth Daynes will add hair and ape features to a human body (Kinaz Riza/Nature).
Anthropologists first found the bones of the Hobbits in 2004 on the Indonesian island of Flores. Their scientific name is Homo floresiensis.
They were chimp-size, with tiny brains and long arms, but they had stone tools and teeth much like ours. They lived about 60,000 years ago [but new mainstream science evidence pushes back that date to 700,000 years]. Who were they?

One idea had it that larger human ancestors from Africa -- likely Homo erectus -- ended up on this island. Then they shrank [a ridiculous explanation but scientists are desperate explain away the evidence], because on islands, animals sometimes evolve to become smaller.

But up to that point, there was no evidence that this "island dwarfism" applied to human ancestors, and people had a hard time accepting it.
"For some reason," says Aida Gomez-Robles, an anthropologist at George Washington University, "when we saw that the same thing can happen to us, to humans, this is when people started to think, 'Oh, my God, this is not possible.'" In fact, some scientists believed Hobbits were just modern humans with some abnormality, like microcephaly, that changed their head shape and made them smaller.
Scientists have now found more tiny, Hobbit-like bones on Flores. Some teeth and part of a lower jaw. Shockingly, the bones date back 700,000 years -- way older than the first Hobbits and predating [accepted dates for] modern humans by hundreds of thousands of years.
Here is a short video on the Homo Floresiensis, a small hobbit like creature that is more like a human being than originally thought...
Gerrit van den Bergh from Wollongong University in Australia says clearly, this was a long-standing population of very different human relatives.
"Human diversity could have been far greater than we have ever realized," he says. Writing in the journal Nature, van den Bergh suggests that ancient human ancestors, probably Homo erectus, traveled from Africa to Asia. They reached this island, perhaps carried by a tsunami. He notes that the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004 did something like that.
"A week after that event," he says, "several people were picked up out from the sea, some floating 60 kilometers from the coast, and they were just clinging to a tree."
Once the Hobbits got to Flores, van den Bergh surmises, island dwarfism set in -- they slowly got smaller. Scientists found fossil elephants on the island that also did that over time.
This aerial image taken in October 2015 shows the Mata Menge site on Flores where bones dating back 700,000 years were found.
This aerial image taken in October 2015 shows the Mata Menge site on Flores where bones dating back 700,000 years were found (Kinez Riza/Nature).
Despite their small brains, the Hobbits were smart enough to make stone tools. But Adam Brumm from Griffith University in Australia says they didn't seem to get any smarter.
"This technology, whatever it was used for, essentially stayed the same for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years on this island," he says, "which is intriguing to say the least."

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