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Thread: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

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    Post Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton


    By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer

    In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.

    One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.

    This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.

    She is the best example of a trove of fragmented bones that account for as many as seven of these primitive individuals. Scientists have named the new species Homo floresiensis, or Flores Man. The specimens' ages range from 95,000 to 12,000 years old.

    The discovery has astonished anthropologists unlike any in recent memory. Flores Man is a totally new creature that was fundamentally different from modern humans. Yet it lived until the threshold of recorded human history, probably crossing paths with the ancestors of today's islanders.

    "This finding really does rewrite our knowledge of human evolution," said Chris Stringer, who directs human origins studies at the Natural History Museum in London. "And to have them present less than 20,000 years ago is frankly astonishing."

    Flores Man was hardly formidable. His grapefruit-sized brain was about a quarter the size of the brain of our species, Homo sapiens. It is closer in size to the brains of transitional prehuman species in Africa more than 3 million years ago.

    Yet evidence suggests Flores Man made stone tools, lit fires and organized group hunts for meat.

    Just how this primitive, remnant species managed to hang on is unclear. Geologic evidence suggests a massive volcanic eruption sealed its fate some 12,000 years ago, along with other unusual species on the island.

    Still, researchers say the perseverance of Flores Man smashes the conventional wisdom that modern humans began to systematically crowd out other upright-walking species 160,000 years ago and have dominated the planet alone for tens of thousands of years.

    And it demonstrates that Africa, the acknowledged cradle of humanity, does not hold all the answers to persistent questions of how ? and where ? we came to be.

    "It is arguably the most significant discovery concerning our own genus in my lifetime," said anthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who reviewed the research independently.

    Discoveries simply "don't get any better than that," proclaimed Robert Foley and Marta Mirazon Lahr of Cambridge University in a written analysis.

    To others, the specimen's baffling combination of slight dimensions and coarse features bears almost no meaningful resemblance either to modern humans or to our large, archaic cousins.

    They suggest that Flores Man doesn't belong in the genus Homo at all, even if it was a recent contemporary. But they are unsure how to classify the species.

    "I don't think anybody can pigeonhole this into the very simple-minded theories of what is human," anthropologist Jeffery Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh. "There is no biological reason to call it Homo. We have to rethink what it is."

    Details of the discovery appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.



    Researchers from Australia and Indonesia found the partial skeleton 13 months ago in a shallow limestone cave known as Liang Bua. The cave, which extends into a hillside for about 130 feet, has been the subject of scientific analysis since 1964.

    The female skeleton and fragments from the six other individuals are being stored in a laboratory in Jakarta, Indonesia. The cave, which now is surrounded by coffee farms, is fenced off and patrolled by guards.

    Near the skeleton were stone tools and animal remains, including teeth from a young stegodon, or prehistoric dwarf elephant, as well as fish, birds and rodents. Some of the bones were charred, suggesting they were cooked.

    Excavations are continuing. In 1998, stone tools and other evidence found on Flores suggested the presence 900,000 years ago of another early human, Homo erectus. The tools were found a century after the celebrated discovery in the 1890s of big-boned H. erectus fossils in eastern Java.

    Now, researchers suggest H. erectus spread to remote Flores and throughout the region, perhaps on bamboo rafts. Caves on surrounding islands are the target of future studies, they said.

    Researchers suspect that Flores Man probably is an H. erectus descendant that was squeezed by evolutionary pressures.

    Nature is full of mammals ? deer, squirrels and pigs, for example ? living in marginal, isolated environments that gradually dwarf when food isn't plentiful and predators aren't threatening.

    On Flores, the Komodo dragon and other large meat-eating lizards prowled. But Flores Man didn't have to worry about violent human neighbors.

    This is the first time that the evolution of dwarfism has been recorded in a human relative, said the study's lead author, Peter Brown of the University of New England in Australia.

    Scientists are still struggling to identify its jumbled features.

    Many say its face and skull features show sufficient traits to be included in the Homo family that includes modern humans. It would be the eighth species in the Homo category.

    George Washington's Wood, for example, finds it "convincing."

    Others aren't sure.

    For example, they say the skull is wide like H. erectus. But the sides are rounder and the crown traces an arc from ear to ear. The skull of H. erectus has steeper sides and a pointed crown, they said.

    The lower jaw contains large, blunt teeth and roots like Australopithecus, a prehuman ancestor in Africa more than 3 million years ago. The front teeth are smaller than modern human teeth.

    The eye sockets are big and round, but they don't carry a prominent browline.

    The shinbone in the leg shares similarities with apes.

    "I've spent a sleepless night trying to figure out what to do with this thing," said Schwartz. "It makes me think of nothing else in this world."

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Quote Originally Posted by bocian
    Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton


    By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer

    In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.
    This find sounds very important and exciting, thank you for posting this one.

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Little lady of Flores forces rethink of human evolution

    Dwarf hominid lived in Indonesia just 18,000 years ago.

    A new human-like species - a dwarfed relative who lived just 18,000 years ago in the company of pygmy elephants and giant lizards - has been discovered in Indonesia.

    Skeletal remains show that the hominins, nicknamed 'hobbits' by some of their discoverers, were only one metre tall, had a brain one-third the size of that of modern humans, and lived on an isolated island long after Homo sapiens had migrated through the South Pacific region.

    "My jaw dropped to my knees," says Peter Brown, one of the lead authors and a palaeoanthropologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia.

    The find has excited researchers with its implications - if unexpected branches of humanity are still being found today, and lived so recently, then who knows what else might be out there? The species' diminutive stature indicates that humans are subject to the same evolutionary forces that made other mammals shrink to dwarf size when in genetic isolation and under ecological pressure, such as on an island with limited resources.

    The new species, reported this week in Nature1,2, was found by Australian and Indonesian scientists in a rock shelter called Liang Bua on the island of Flores. The team unearthed a near-complete skeleton, thought to be a female, including the skull, jaw and most teeth, along with bones and teeth from at least seven other individuals. In the same site they also found bones from Komodo dragons and an extinct pygmy elephant called Stegodon.

    The hominin bones were not fossilized, but in a condition the team described as being like "mashed potatoes", a result of their age and the damp conditions. "The skeleton had the consistency of wet blotting paper, so a less experienced excavator might have trashed the find," says Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong, Australia.

    "Only the Indonesians were present at the actual moment of discovery - the Australian contingent had departed back to Oz," says Roberts. He credits Thomas Sutikna of the Indonesian Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta for the excellent handling of the samples. The success has inspired national pride at the centre, the researchers say. "This is very important for Indonesian society," says co-author R. P. Soejono.

    The discovery is prompting increased scrutiny of sites on other Southeast Asian islands, both to look for more of the same species and to place it in context with Homo sapiens and Homo erectus, our closest relative. Homo erectus was found to have lived on the nearby island of Java as long as 1.6 million years ago; the team suggests that the Flores hominins may be their descendants.

    Dating more bones could help determine whether the species was a short-lived branch of human evolution or survived for longer. Preliminary dating places it at about 70,000 years ago, but it may extend back 800,000 years. "We were hoping we might find a little hominin from that early," says author Michael Morwood, an archaeologist at the University of New England.

    In the meantime, researchers are hoping to find DNA in the bones, which would help to clarify the relationships between species. DNA has previously been extracted from European Neanderthals living in the same time period. But they have so far failed to find DNA in the teeth of the Stegodon found in the same cave, says Brown.

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    I will post the pdf files soon.

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton


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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Here is one from National Geographic on the discovery, complete with a small photo gallery.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...nsis.html#main
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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    You guys may not accept this but there is some evidence that this type of creature lived into the recent historical period and perhaps even to this day. The first to suggest this was the biologist Bernard Heuvelmans in his book "On The Track Of Unknown Animals". Two chapters may apply.

    The first was Nittaewo, the Lost People of Ceylon. When the Veddah first settled Ceylon, they found it inhabited by people much more primitive then themselves. There were dwarfs, hairy, and without much culture. The Veddahs finally exterminated these people, driving the last into a cave and setting the mouth of the cave on fire, according to Veddah legends.

    The second is titled: Orang Pendek, the Ape Man of Samatra. Again, a small, hairy man is described by Heuvelmans, with lots of accounts and sightings. The interesting thing is that sightings go on to this very day and even as we discuss this, an expedition is underway looking for this creature. Westerners have seen this creature in the late 1990s. There is actually quite a bit written about the Orang Pendek.
    Last edited by Dr. Solar Wolff; Thursday, October 28th, 2004 at 07:55 AM.

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Solar Wolff
    You guys may not accept this but there is some evidence that this type of creature lived into the recent historical period and perhaps even to this day. The first to suggest this was the biologist Bernard Heuvelmans in his book "On The Track Of Unknown Animals". Two chapters may apply.

    The first was Nittaewo, the Lost People of Ceylon. When the Veddah first settled Ceylon, they found it inhabited by people much more primitive then themselves. There were dwarfs, hairy, and without much culture. The Veddahs finally exterminated these people, driving the last into a cave and setting the mouth of the cave on fire, according to Veddah legends.

    The second is titled: Orang Pendek, the Ape Man of Samatra. Again, a small, hairy man is described by Heuvelmans, with lots of accounts and sightings. The interesting thing is that sightings go on to this very day and even as we discuss this, an expedition is underway looking for this creature. Westerners have seen this creature in the late 1990s. There is actually quite a bit written about the Orang Pendek.
    I am familiar with the Orang Pendek and inclined to believe in its existence, but I had not associated it with this find until you brought it up.

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    That some are only about a meter tall with a chimp-size brain is even more remarkable.

    The blades, perforators, points, and other cutting and chopping utensils were apparently used to hunt big game.

    The Flores people used fire in hearths for cooking and hunted stegodon, a primitive dwarf elephant found on the island. Although small, the stegodon still weighed about 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds), and would pose a significant challenge to a hunter the size of a three-year-old modern human child. Hunting must have required joint communication and planning, the researchers say.

    And the hobbits were managing some extraordinary things—manufacturing sophisticated stone tools, hunting pygmy elephants, and crossing at least two water barriers to reach Flores from mainland Asia—with a brain only one-third the size of ours.


    The Flores people seem to have been more sophisticated than Gypsies currently are...

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    Post Re: Scientists Find Prehistoric Dwarf Skeleton

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Solar Wolff
    You guys may not accept this but there is some evidence that this type of creature lived into the recent historical period and perhaps even to this day. The first to suggest this was the biologist Bernard Heuvelmans in his book "On The Track Of Unknown Animals". Two chapters may apply.
    These SE Asian folkloric descriptions of "little men" sound a lot of like European descriptions of brownies, leprechauns, etc. For instance, the SE Asian story of leaving food out for Orang Pendek, and being punished with violence and noise for not doing this is quite like Irish folklore.

    It makes one wonder about stories about giants, dwarves, trolls, goblins, kobolds (living in caves), etc.

    Here's a cut and paste of an old post I saved:

    Pygmies are commonly associated with the short populations that live in the middle of Congo, but small people aren’t just confined to the African jungles.

    Pittard on Swiss Pygmies

    Translated from Pittard. E. , Les Races et l’Histoire, 1924, pp. 168-169.

    Before carrying on, we should talk about a human group, whose influence isn’t considerable to the Swiss ethnic pool, but whose presence cannot be ignored, we’re talking about the Pygmies. Neolithic Switzerland had a very small sized population that lived spread in different point of the Alpine Geography. We’re not talking about physically degenerated people, who suffered from pathological problems along their physical development, but about normal people. A race that has been found in other countries as well.

    Pygmy remains have been found in several Cantons; in Guérande (Valais), in Moosedorf(Berne), in Schweizersbild and in Dachsenbühl(Schaffhouse) and in Camblande(Vaud). Members of both genders have been found in these “graves”. Their number isn’t as big as to obtain an acceptable mean stature.

    Very short statures have been recorded (it has to be taken into account we’re just dealing with adults), for example, 1.33 m. in a woman from Ergolz(Bâle-Campagne). In the Neolithic necropolis of Schweizersbild, Kolleman recorded an average stature of 1.424 m. (the shortest one was 1.35 m. while the tallest 1.50 m.) in three adult remains. Moreover, Schenk recorded the minimum stature of 1.356 m. in the reconstructed remains of a woman in Chamblandes.

    How can these ancient Swiss Pygmies be explained? Where did they come from? In 1894 Studer and Bannwarth suggested the Mesocephalic Pygmies from Chamblandes had a Mediterranean origin, based on the Sea shell ornaments that were found with the remains. However, their hypothesis was immediately attacked.

    The presence of Pygmies in Neolithic Europe creates passionate debates that are even related to the origins of Europeans themselves. The introduction to Europe of these populations of probable African origin might have taken place middle Pleistocene.

    Paul Rivet on American Pygmies

    Translated from Rivet. P., Les origins del’homme américain”, 1957, pp.145- 151.


    Regarding his first travel to Venezuela, Niclaus Federmann points out the Ayamán are characterized by a stature that doesn’t exceed the 120 cm. The explorer points out these Amerindians weren’t pathologically affected.



    In 1920 Gustaf Bolinder met for the first time a Colombian Pygmy tribe from Perijá called the Maraká, who had taken their name from a nearby river.


    http://www.network54.com/Realm/tmp/1069596529.JPG
    Bolinder with a normal sized man and a Pygmy




    Statures of Shirapa Amerindians from Venezuela taken by J.M Cruxent:

    Males(eleven individuals):

    Max. Stature: 1.52 m.

    Min. Stature: 1.26 m.

    Average: 1.392 m.

    Females (twelve individuals):

    Max. Stature: 1.40 m.

    Min Stature: 1.22 m.

    Average: 1.3275 m.



    http://www.network54.com/Realm/tmp/1069596202.JPG
    Shirapa Pygmies
    "Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil." - F. Nietzsche

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