Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Hobbits" Descendants of Early Migration?

Well, this would explain a lot. Hindustan Times is reporting of an Australian National University student's work that suggests that the reason the Flores hominids look the way they do is that they are direct descendants of an early migration of late Australopithecus or early Homo habilis out of Africa about 2.5 mya. The story notes:

For her research, Argue compared anatomical structures of the type specimen of H. floresiensis, LB1, with several modern humans, and many ancient hominins such as H. erectus, H. ergaster, H. habilis, and the Dmanisi specimens.

What they found was that H. floresiensis had long arms in proportion to its legs, and is close to the primitive arm-to-leg ratio of the gracile australopithecine, Australopithecus garhi.

"Floresiensis seems to have evolved around the time of A. garhi, given its primitive arm-leg ratio, whereas H. habilis was moving towards the modern human ratio around the same time," said Argue.

"If we're right, it means some hominin must have moved out of Africa about two million years ago, which is half a million years earlier than the Dmanisi hominin, which is supposedly the earliest out of Africa," she added. (ANI)

The initial problem that I have with this model is that, up to this point, we have discovered no fossil evidence outside of Africa of any of these critters, which you would expect if some of them dropped dead on the way over to Indonesia, or the crude stone tools that they may have made. On the other hand, we were saying that all the way up to the discovery of the Dmanisi remains a few years ago.

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