Saturday, 2 May 2009
Were Hobbits Master Toolmakers?
Hobbits were obviously master toolmakers.
In 2003 tiny human fossils were found on the Indonesian island of Flores. The 1-metre- tall Flores Man (Homo floresiensis) was soon dubbed Hobbit after Tolkien’s diminutive Middle Earth hero.
It now seems that these Hobbits have left us proof of their dexterity. They used sharp-edged stone tools.
Archaeologist Mark Moore of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues examined over 11 000 stone tools found in the Liang Buan Cave on Flores island.
With a brain capacity of a third of H. sapiens, Hobbits were nevertheless able to craft so good stone tools that when people classified as H. sapiens later came to the island, they used the very same pattern in their tools. This became obvious when the archaeologists examined the layers in the cave. H. sapiens obviously used the same cave after the Hobbits.
Moore even suggests that H. floresiensis and H. sapiens might have interacted.
Although Hobbits were small, we have no reason to think that they were not fully human. They were obviously no more primitive than individuals classified as Homo sapiens. Like us, they were the descendants of a real man called Adam.
Culotta, Elizabeth. 2009. Did Humans Learn From Hobbits? ScienceNOW Daily News. (17 April) http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/417/3