New findings suggest that the tiny hominin nicknamed the “Hobbit” that once inhabited in the Indonesian island of Flores may have disappeared much earlier than scientists originally thought. According to a report published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, the hobbits, previously dated to as recently as 12,000 years ago, were around between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Hobbits or Homo floresiensis, their actual name, were first discovered in 2003 in the Liang Bua cave. An international team discovered a 20-foot skeleton and bone fragments of as many as 10 individuals and, at the moment, they dated the remains to 18,000 years ago.
But now, after doing more researching and digging up new stratigraphic and chronological evidence, scientists concluded that the remains mostly dated between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago. Stone artifacts found in the cave, which are believed to be used by H. floresiensis, range from 190,000 years to 50,000 years.
“We dated charcoal, sediments, flowstones, volcanic ash and even the H. floresiensis bones themselves using the most up-to-date scientific methods available. In the last decade, we’ve vastly improved our understanding of when the deposits accumulated in Liang Bua, and what this means for the age of ‘hobbit’ bones and stone tools,” Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts, an Australian Research at the University of Wollongong said in a statement as Fox News reported.
Were H. floresiensis in contact with modern humans?
Professor Bert Roberts, from the University of Wollongong, Australia, says the new dating might resolve a previous interrogation. The first dating suggested that Hobbits survived for 30,000 to 40,000 years after modern humans are believed to have passed through Indonesia. Scientists began wondering how it was possible for H. floresiensis, who stood only 3.6 feet and had a chimp-sized brain, to survive that long. But it seems that they were gone long before.
Still, study co-author Matt Tocheri of Lakehead University said the overlap points to the possibility that our species may well have had something to do with their disappearance. And Roberts told the BBC that every time modern humans arrived somewhere new, it tended to be bad news for the endemic fauna. So, both scientists agree that the theory that H. sapiens could be the blame for hobbits extinction cannot be completely ruled out. However, they pointed that this accusation is purely speculative, as many other factors like fluctuations in food supply or drought might have contributed to the extinction.
Source: Fox News