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The extinct “hobbit” of human evolution

New date for our cousin from the island of Flores

Digs and geological dating in Liang Bua Cave, Indonesia, show that Homo floresiensis, nicknamed the “hobbit” for its small size, became extinct around 50,000 years ago – tens of thousands of years earlier than originally thought.

The new study dated layers of volcanic ash and calcite directly above and below the fossils. The bones of Homo floresiensis range in age from about 100,000 to 60,000 years old. Stone tools in the cave used by the “hobbit” are from 190,000 to 50,000 years old.

Homo floresiensis was one of the last early human species to die out. The new analysis means that this evolutionary relative became extinct around 50,000 years ago – just before or at the time when Homo sapiens arrived in the region.

The new findings were announced by Thomas Sutikna, Smithsonian researcher Matt Tocheri, and others in the journal Science on March 30, 2016.

The image below is of skeletal remains of Liang Bua 1, dated to around 80,000 years old.

 

Image of LB1 skeleton, Flores, Indonesia