In August 2003, on the Indonesian island of Flores, scientists found the bones of a little female adult who died 18,000 years ago. She had been a bit over one metre tall with a brain barely one third the average size of ours. Nor was she alone. Remains of others of the same type were found later.
The scientists had discovered a previously unknown species, Homo floresiensis. Astoundingly, these tiny beings made stone tools, used fire to cook meat and vegetables, hunted and killed large animals, worked co-operatively in groups and probably spoke a language. That is, they developed a society with its own enduring culture. And they survived on Flores until about 12,000 years ago! The world’s media pounced on the news, and told us that “real, live hobbits” used to live in Indonesia. In scientific circles, meanwhile, the discovery ignited a dispute which, a decade later, is still hot.
Sadly, the real Homo floresiensis got lost along the way.
At the November meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, guest speaker Ross Williams, will talk about what the hard evidence shows about the species’ appearance, its abilities, its ecology and how it fits into our own evolutionary history.
The talk will be held on Friday 8 November from 7pm in the hall behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (approx. midway between Kennedy St and Barker St). Entry is free. Both members and visitors are welcome to attend. The excursion the next day will be to the Newstead cemetery and the Rise and Shine Reserve. Contact the club for further details if needed (email@example.com).