- by Matt Borths
“Hobbits! Dragons! Weird elephants and ancient mysteries! It’s the stuff of literary and box office gold. And it turns out it’s the stuff of prehistory, too! In 2004 a group of paleontologists working on the island of Flores, a part of the Indonesian archipelago, discovered the bones of small people in a cave called Liang Bua. The bones represented several individuals that were only 3’ 6” tall (A little more than a meter for the metrically inclined). Our guest this week, Dr. William Jungers from Stony Brook University and past guest Dr. Susan Larson, were invited to join the team to work on the skeleton of Homo floresiensis or “The Hobbit.” The skull ofHomo floresiensis was weird, with a tiny brain and primitive features that connected the species to a more ancient species of hominin (bipedal apes) thanHomo sapiens. Initial work on the fossils suggested the hobbits were small versions of Homo erectus one of the first bipedal apes to make it to Asia with large brains and tall statures. But the evidence has begun to pile up connecting Homo floresiensis to a smaller, less-brainy species called Homo habilis, a species that was never thought to have made it out of Africa. Get caught up on the state of hobbit science in this episode of Past Time and be prepared for even more fascinating discoveries to come out of Flores!
The best way to listen in, is to subscribe to Past Time through iTunes. Or if you prefer, you can download the episode or stream it directly through your browser here. Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter, where the newest member of our team, Thomas Salerno, has been reporting on the latest in paleontological and archaeological news or like us on Facebook where we will keep you updated on new episodes and the world of the past” (read more).
(Source: Past Time)
SCIENTISTS, by artist Alan Kennedy on Flickr
- Galileo Galilei and the moons of Jupiter
- Isaac Newton: the motion of objects and spectrum of light
- Charles Darwin and descent with modification via natural selection
- Nicola Tesla and the age of electricity
- Albert Einstein and spacetime