Letters to Nature

Nature 431, 1087-1091 (28 October 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature02956; Received 3 March 2004; Accepted 18 August 2004

There is an Erratum (November 2005) associated with this Letters to Editor.

Archaeology and age of a new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia

M. J. Morwood1, R. P. Soejono2, R. G. Roberts3, T. Sutikna2, C. S. M. Turney3, K. E. Westaway3, W. J. Rink4, J.- x. Zhao5, G. D. van den Bergh6, Rokus Awe Due2, D. R. Hobbs1, M. W. Moore1, M. I. Bird7 & L. K. Fifield8

  1. Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, School of Human and Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia
  2. Indonesian Centre for Archaeology, Jl. Raya Condet Pejaten No. 4, Jakarta 12001, Indonesia
  3. GeoQuEST Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia
  4. School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada
  5. Advanced Centre for Queensland University Isotope Research Excellence (ACQUIRE), University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
  6. Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
  7. School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK
  8. Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

Correspondence to: M. J. Morwood1R. G. Roberts3 Email: mmorwood@pobox.une.edu.au
Email: rgrob@uow.edu.au

Excavations at Liang Bua, a large limestone cave on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia, have yielded evidence for a population of tiny hominins, sufficiently distinct anatomically to be assigned to a new species, Homo floresiensis 1. The finds comprise the cranial and some post-cranial remains of one individual, as well as a premolar from another individual in older deposits. Here we describe their context, implications and the remaining archaeological uncertainties. Dating by radiocarbon (14C), luminescence, uranium-series and electron spin resonance (ESR) methods indicates that H. floresiensis existed from before 38,000 years ago (kyr) until at least 18 kyr. Associated deposits contain stone artefacts and animal remains, including Komodo dragon and an endemic, dwarfed species of Stegodon. H. floresiensis originated from an early dispersal of Homo erectus (including specimens referred to as Homo ergaster and Homo georgicus)1 that reached Flores, and then survived on this island refuge until relatively recently. It overlapped significantly in time with Homo sapiens in the region2, 3, but we do not know if or how the two species interacted.


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