Homo floresiensis: The Chamber Beneath Ling Bua

The Australian is reporting on a chamber beneath the Ling Bua cave where LB1 was found. According to the article the chamber was found last year:

The unexpected discovery of a chamber in the Flores island cave was made last year by an Australian-Indonesian team – led by ANU paleoclimatologist Mike Gagan – while they were investigating ancient climates.
An expert caver assisting in sample retrieval abseiled down a 23m-long sinkhole, inaccessible to the original team, at the back of Liang Bua Cave and found the chamber.

There are several interesting bits in the article:

According to Dr Gagan, they found bones of numerous species, from stegodons and giant rats to pigs and primates. Many showed evidence of butchery.
“The bones are also in pristine condition,” he said. [emphasis mine - afarensis]

Why is that important you ask?

Scientists are confident the mystery will be solved if they can extract DNA from hobbit remains they expect to find among the rubble of 32,000- to 80,000-year-old bones and stone tools littering the cavern floor.

This may be way Richard Potts was referring to in the National Geographic article…Fascinating times are ahead for this story!
(Hat tip to John Scanlon)
Update 1: I thought ABC News had more on the story that more bones have been found, but when you click on the link you get a page does not exist error.
Update 2: Via the Loom comes a link to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald which suggests that Homo floresiensis and Stegadon were wiped out by modern humans! Then comes the quote that Zimmer (and I) found fascinating:

This island was the most likely source of the hobbits’ ancestors. “My guess is that hominids arrived on Sulawesi a long time before a small group were somehow washed out to sea, to be deposited on Flores,” he said. “It is now the place with real potential to surprise.”

An evolving lineage of Hobbits? It would be fun to argue over how to separate and name the chronospecies, rather than microcephaly, but …
Update 3: Hawks points at this will mean there will be two teams working at Ling Bua. Then he gets all cryptic on us:

Now that they’re going back to work, I wonder if we will hear more about the rumored hair in the strata.

I’ve not heard that rumor, but Hawks is correct in being skeptical of it.
Update 4: Kambiz has an interesting video discussing the controversy over the last three years…

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4 Responses

  1. Wow, this quote from that article is awesome,

    “According to Dr Gagan, they found bones of numerous species, from stegodons and giant rats to pigs and primates. Many showed evidence of butchery.”

  2. Yeah, I’m going to have to do some research on the tools found at Ling Bua, especially in light of the post I did on Shea’s article.

  3. You know, I think these “hobbit wars” are going to go on *forever*, because neither side is going to give up its contentions. Not a good sign for science.
    Anne G

  4. I’m optimistic about our ability to resolve the situation. I think this debate will make for an instructive example in future classrooms.

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