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Homo Floresiensis

Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed "hobbit" is an extinct species in the genus Homo.

The remains of an individual that would have stood about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) in height were discovered in 2003 at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete skull, referred to as "LB1". These remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans, though the dominant consensus is that these remains do represent a distinct species due to genetic and anatomical differences.

This hominin had originally been considered remarkable for its survival until relatively recent times, only 12,000 years ago. However, more extensive stratigraphic and chronological work has pushed the dating of the most recent evidence of its existence back to 50,000 years ago. The Homo Floresiensis skeletal material is now dated from 60,000 to 100,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains were from archaeological horizons ranging from 50,000 to 190,000 years ago.

The specimens were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 by a joint Australian-Indonesian team of archaeologists looking for evidence of the original human migration of Homo Sapiens from Asia to Australia. They were not expecting to find a new species, and were surprised at the recovery of a nearly complete skeleton of a hominin they dubbed LB1 because it was unearthed inside the Liang Bua Cave. Subsequent excavations recovered seven additional skeletons, initially dated from 38,000 to 13,000 years ago. An arm bone provisionally assigned to Homo Floresiensis is about 74,000 years old. The specimens are not fossilized and have been described as having "...the consistency of wet blotting paper." Once exposed, the bones had to be left to dry before they could be dug up.

Stone implements of a size considered appropriate to the 3-foot-tall human are also widely present in the cave. The implements are at horizons initially dated at from 95,000 to 13,000 years ago and are associated with (found in the same stratigraphic layer as) an elephant of the extinct genus Stegodon (which was widespread throughout Asia during the Quaternary), presumably the prey of LB1. Homo Sapiens reached the region by around 50,000 years ago. Comparisons of the stone artefacts with those made by modern humans in East Timor indicate many technological similarities.

Homo Floresiensis was unveiled on 28 October 2004, and was swiftly nicknamed the hobbit, after the fictional race popularized in J. R. R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit, and a proposed scientific name for the species was Homo Hobbitus. It was initially placed in its own genus, Sundanthropus Floresianus ("Sunda human from Flores"), but reviewers of the article felt that the cranium, despite its size, belonged in the genus Homo.

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