Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsThe discovery of Homo floresiensis was not without controversy. Scientists still continue to debate the validity of the find. When the rock was observed that way just exposed on the-- from brow and also the teeth, but not exposed all of them. Then the first time rock was cast as 200 000 years old and hominin. But we were still not sure if it was a child. But after a couple of days, we were be able to remove all the dirt in the teeth. All of us were very, very surprised because it was an adult human. But it predates human existence in this part of the world, casting shadows on many long held assumptions about the origins of our species.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsThe pace of paleoanthropology, or the study of human evolution, has really increased exponentially. There are new fossils found across Africa, across Eurasia, and into Southeast Asia that are really increasing our samples for understanding human diversity in the past. Prior to some of these discoveries it was typically thought that, OK, early Homo erectus left Africa, made it to China and Indonesia, and was basically widespread from Asia all through-- and through Africa. But now with a discovery such as Homo floresiensis, it really tells us that there's a lot more out there that we just haven't found yet.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 secondsAnd that we're likely going to continue to find more diversity, likely more species, and a more complicated evolutionary history for the species that are most closely related to us.

It's human...

When the team of Indonesian archaeologists stumbled upon the skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis they were sure that they were human bones. However, they had doubted that they belonged to an adult and speculated that they may be the bones of a human child.

photograph of partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis before completely excavated The partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis before it was lifted (Photo: © Liang Bua Team/ARKENAS)

These doubts were dispelled after removing dirt from the teeth.

“…we were still not sure if it was a child. But after a couple of days, we were able to remove all the dirt in the teeth. All of us were very, very surprised because it was an adult human” (Thomas Sutikna, archaeologist)

The find is particularly fascinating as it predates the known existence of primitive hominins in this part of the world, casting shadows on many long-held assumptions about human evolution. Previously, it had been a commonly-held assumption that early Homo erectus left Africa, made it to China and western Indonesia, and was widespread through Asia.

“…with a discovery such as Homo floresiensis, it really tells us that there’s a lot more out there that we just haven’t found yet. And that we’re likely going to continue to find more diversity, likely more species, and a more complicated evolutionary history for the species that are most closely related to us” ( Matt Tocheri, palaeoanthropologist ).

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of ‘the Hobbit’

University of Wollongong

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

  • Why Uncover the Past?
    Why Uncover the Past?
    video

    Professor Bert Roberts explains how modern archaeological science helps us trace out the human story and piece together the human family tree.

  • Excavations at Liang Bua
    Excavations at Liang Bua
    video

    The discovery of Homo floresiensis and ensuing excavations at Liang Bua

Contact FutureLearn for Support