Homo floresensis

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: The Woodstock of Evolution -- The World Summit on Evolution, held in the Galapagos Islands, revealed a science rich in history and tradition, data and theory, as well as controversy and debate: "Found in Liang Bua cave, the type specimen of Homo floresiensis was dated at 18,000 years old, meaning that they had to be modern humans because all other hominid species had long ago gone extinct. But with a cranial capacity of only 300 cubic centimeters--about the same size as that of Lucy and modern chimpanzees--this means that they were able to fashion complex tools (and possibly boats) with tiny brains; the implication is that brain architecture, not size, is what counts for creating higher intelligence. A second published specimen put to rest the pathology hypothesis that Homo floresensis was a microcephalic human. The best evidence, says White, points to insular dwarfing, a rapid punctuation event out of Homo sapiens that led to a shrinkage of these isolated people. Such dwarfing effects can be seen on this and other islands, where large mammals get smaller (like the dwarf elephant), and small reptiles get larger (like the Komodo Dragon). The chances of any living members of this species still existing in the hinterlands of Flores are extremely remote, but some observers have noted that the indigenous peoples of Flores recount a myth of small hairy humans who descend from the highlands to steal food and supplies."


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