Hobbit’s ancestors found after more than a decade of searching

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More than a decade after the discovery that a diminutive relative of modern humans once lived on the Indonesian island of Flores, Gerrit van den Bergh was losing faith that he would find any clues to the ancestors of the ‘hobbit’. It was October 2014, and for four years he had co-led an industrial-scale excavation near the cave where the metre-tall skeleton had been found. Then, weeks before packing it in for the year, a local worker found a 700,000-year-old molar. More teeth and a partial jaw quickly followed.

The unusually petite jaw and teeth are from at least one adult and two children — the first possible ancestors of Homo floresiensis ever to be discovered — and resemble the hobbit remains found on the island, which are between 60,000 and 100,000 years old.

The jaw and teeth address two questions that have dogged the study of the species — where did it come from and how did it get so small? Yet there is little consensus among researchers, who say that firm conclusions require more fossils.

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Read full, original post: ‘Hobbit’ relatives found after ten-year hunt

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