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Examining Faunal Remains

Information from faunal remains about the impact that humans have had on the ecosystem and environment in Flores

Faunal remains at Liang Bua provide information about the impact that humans have had on the ecosystem and environment of Flores over the last 100,000 years.

Once faunal remains have been excavated, they are taken to a wet-sieving station to wash off the clay-like sediments attached to them. They are then examined by a range of scientific researchers with the naked eye, microscopes and a range of scientific techniques.

Examination of faunal remains is necessary to shed light on the following questions:

  • What species of animal are found in the Liang Bua deposits?
  • Why are certain species found there?
  • What was the behaviour and diet of the Hobbit?
  • How did hobbits interact with their environment?
  • What types of stone tools were used by hobbits?

The Disappearance of an Ecosystem

Many species found of animal in the Hobbit layers at Liang Bua are still found today on Flores, such as the Komodo dragon and giant rat. But a number of species are no longer present today, including Stegodon and the giant Marabou stork and vulture. These species seem to have disappeared around the same time as Homo floresiensis. Evidence suggests that these species were closely associated with Homo floresiensis and likely competed for food resources. Evidence of fire use (burning) and stone tool use indicates that rats and snakes were a common food source for Homo floresiensis.

Conversation starter

  • What do the faunal remains uncovered at Liang Bua tell us about the life and times of the Hobbit?

  • What assumptions can be made about the extinction of Homo floresiensis coinciding with the disappearance of Stegadon, and the giant Marabou stork and vulture?

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Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of ‘the Hobbit’

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