Homo Floresiensis - Recent Survival

Recent Survival

The species is thought to have survived on Flores at least until 12,000 years before present, making it the longest lasting non-modern human, surviving long past the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis), which became extinct about 24,000 years ago.

Because of a deep neighbouring strait, Flores remained isolated during the Wisconsin glaciation (the most recent glacial period), despite the low sea levels that united Sundaland. This has led the discoverers of H. floresiensis to conclude that the species, or its ancestors, could only have reached the isolated island by water transport, perhaps arriving in bamboo rafts around 100,000 years ago (or, if they are H. erectus, then about 1 million years ago). At this time the islands of Komodo and Flores were joined, leaving a 12 mile (19 km) wide strait to be crossed with Komodo visible from the mainland. This idea of H. floresiensis using advanced technology and cooperation on a modern human level has prompted the discoverers to hypothesize that H. floresiensis almost certainly had language.

Local geology suggests that a volcanic eruption on Flores approximately 12,000 years ago was responsible for the demise of H. floresiensis, along with other local fauna, including the elephant Stegodon. Gregory Forth hypothesized that H. floresiensis may have survived longer in other parts of Flores to become the source of the Ebu Gogo stories told among the Nage people of Flores. The Ebu Gogo are said to have been small, hairy, language-poor cave dwellers on the scale of this species. Believed to be present at the time of the arrival of the first Portuguese ships during the 16th century, these creatures are claimed to have existed as recently as the late 19th century.

Gerd van den Bergh, a paleontologist working with the fossils, reported hearing of the Ebu Gogo a decade before the fossil discovery. On the island of Sumatra, there are reports of a 1–1.5 m (3 ft 3 in–4 ft 10 in) tall humanoid, the Orang Pendek which might be related to H. floresiensis. Henry Gee, senior editor at Nature magazine, speculates that species like H. floresiensis might still exist in the unexplored tropical forest of Indonesia.

Read more about this topic:  Homo Floresiensis

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