New Research Suggests Humans Drove Hobbits to Extinction

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tags: archaeology, Hobbits



Homo floresiensis, aka the ‘Hobbit’ people, were first discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia and ever since researchers have wondered how they were able to co-exist with early humans when no other group had. The answer? They didn’t. New excavations and dating have concluded that the Hobbit people died away 50,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than previous testing indicated. In fact, the new data suggests that instead of living alongside them, modern humans may have driven H.floresiensis to extinction.

In hindsight though, the error is clear to see. The first Hobbit fossils were considered too precious and fragile to undergo radiocarbon analysis. In lieu of testing the bones, researchers gathered charcoal found nearby under the assumption it had accumulated at the same time as the fossils. The charcoal was tested and dated to 11,000 years old. Modern humans spread throughout Australia and Asia around 50,000 years ago.

“Somehow these tiny people had survived on this island 30,000 years after modern humans arrived”, Richard Roberts, with the University of Wollongong, told Nature “We were scratching our heads. It couldn’t add up.” Previous research shows the Neanderthals disappeared shortly after the arrival of modern humans in Africa and Europe.




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