Life

Unveiling the Mystery of Homo Floresiensis: A Tale of Shrinking Stature and Island Life

   A joint Australian and Indonesian scientific expedition team discovered a complete fossilized human remains in the Liang Bua Cave on Flores Island in Indonesia. Judging from the skeleton, the remains were that of a stout woman, about 30 years old, but only about 1 meter tall. After identification, paleoanthropologists believe that this is a kind of prehistoric human – Homo floresiensis – who lived between 190,000 and 50,000 years ago.
   Homo floresiensis belongs to the genus Hominidae and is a distant relative of Homo sapiens. Judging from the fossils discovered, the tallest remains of Homo floresien was only 1.09 meters tall and weighed only 25 kilograms. Scientists also found that Homo floresiensis had a smaller brain, with a brain capacity of only 350 milliliters, about the same size as an orange. In addition, the arms of Homo floresiensis are very long, and the shape of the wrist bones is more similar to that of primitive primates such as Australopithecus apes and chimpanzees.
  Why is it so short?
   American biologist Robert Martin believes that the small brains of Homo floresiensis are caused by the disease microcephaly. Peter Obendorf, a researcher at Australia’s Royal Institute of Technology, believes that Homo floresiensis’ small head is caused by the disease microcephaly. It is very possible that you have cretinism (also known as cretinism). However, through CT scans of the fossils of Homo floresiensis, they found that the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain of Homo floresiensis were well developed, the pituitary fossa was not significantly enlarged, and other skeletal features did not reach the level of cretinism. standards.
   Some people have also asked whether Homo floresiensis suffered from dwarfism? Paleoanthropologists say that to prove that Homo Flores indeed suffered from dwarfism, DNA evidence needs to be extracted, but the DNA material on the fossils of Homo floresien has disappeared and cannot be extracted with current technology.
  The magical island effect
   In addition to disease, scientists speculate that the short growth of Homo floresiensis is caused by the island effect. The island effect is a theory proposed by British scientist John Foster in 1964. He found that all large animals living on the mainland tend to shrink in size on the island; small animals on the mainland become larger after entering the island. It turns out that space resources on islands are limited, and individuals that are smaller and consume less are better able to adapt to the environment. On the contrary, small animals lack the constraints of natural enemies on islands, and larger individuals are better able to seize precious resources, so they gradually become larger. Paleoanthropologists speculate that the ancestors of Homo floresiensis were Homo erectus living in East Asia. Due to limited resources on the island, they were originally tall and had to shrink in size in order to adapt to the environment, and eventually evolved into Flores. people.
  Unable to escape the fate of extinction
   , Homo floresiensis lived on the island for hundreds of thousands of years until it became extinct about 50,000 years ago. Many scientists believe that the cause of the extinction of Homo Flores was the invasion of prehistoric Homo sapiens. However, the latest research shows that Homo Flores may have disappeared long before prehistoric Homo sapiens entered Flores. At the end of the Holocene, the earth’s environment underwent drastic changes, and islands in particular were extremely sensitive to such changes in the environment. On Flores, there were animals such as the Flores saber-toothed elephant, the Flores giant rat, and the strong bald stork. All kinds of creatures have become extinct. Whether environmental factors or the invasion of Homo sapiens caused the extinction of Homo floresiensis may require more fossil evidence to find the answer.

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