Sunday, April 01, 2007

Homo floresiensis from Sulawesi?   posted by Razib @ 4/01/2007 08:46:00 PM

I just finished reading a review copy of A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the "Hobbits" of Flores, Indonesia. The title says it all, and one of the authors is Michael Morwood, one of the lead researchers of the group which published the initial papers. Definitely not a "fair & balanced" work,1 though reasonably interesting (I found the ethnology and evolution more interesting than the stratigraphy and tephrochronology, but that's just me). One of the surprising assertions that Morwood makes (foreshadowed early on) is that the H. floresiensis was derived from a popuation which likely came from the north, in particular the island of Sulawesi. Morwood's argument derives from reading the ocean currents (north to south) in the region, and the nature of the local island biogeography. He also suggests that it is likely that the first modern humans arrived on Flores with the Papuan expansion less than 10,000 years ago (due to the emergence of the garden-culture complex based around yams, taro, etc.). An implication of Morwood's reading of the nature of the spread of mammals in east-central Indonesia is that the initial colonization of Australiasia might have occurred via a "northern" route, from Sulawesi to the east, rather than stepping from Java, to Bali, to Lombok, and so forth.

I'll probably have more comment later.

1 - John Hawks is noted as one of the individuals at "one end of the spectrum" in regards to asserting that the LB1 fossil was pathological.