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A new small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia

Nature volume 431, pages 10551061 (28 October 2004) | Download Citation



Currently, it is widely accepted that only one hominin genus, Homo, was present in Pleistocene Asia, represented by two species, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Both species are characterized by greater brain size, increased body height and smaller teeth relative to Pliocene Australopithecus in Africa. Here we report the discovery, from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia, of an adult hominin with stature and endocranial volume approximating 1 m and 380 cm3, respectively—equal to the smallest-known australopithecines. The combination of primitive and derived features assigns this hominin to a new species, Homo floresiensis. The most likely explanation for its existence on Flores is long-term isolation, with subsequent endemic dwarfing, of an ancestral H. erectus population. Importantly, H. floresiensis shows that the genus Homo is morphologically more varied and flexible in its adaptive responses than previously thought.

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We would like to thank F. Spoor and L. Aiello for data and discussion. Comments by F. Spoor and D. Lieberman greatly improved aspects of the original manuscript. Conversation with S. Collier, C. Groves, T. White and P. Grave helped clarify some issues. CT scans were produced by CT-Scan KSU, Medical Diagnostic Nusantara, Jakarta. S. Wasisto completed complex section drawings and assisted with the excavation of Sector VII. The 2003 excavations at Liang Bua, undertaken under Indonesian Centre for Archaeology Permit Number 1178/SB/PUS/BD/24.VI/2003, were funded by a Discovery Grant to M.J.M. from the Australian Research Council. UNE Faculty of Arts, and M. Macklin, helped fund the manufacture of stereolithographic models of LB1.Authors contributions P.B. reconstructed the LB1 cranium and was responsible for researching and writing this article, with M.J.M. T.S. directed many aspects of the Liang Bua excavations, including the recovery of the hominin skeleton. M.J.M. and R.P.S. are Principal Investigators and Institutional Counterparts in the ARC project, as well as Co-Directors of the Liang Bua excavations. E.W.S. and Jatmiko assisted T.S., and had prime responsibility for the work in Sector VII. R.A.D. did all of the initial faunal identifications at Liang Bua, including hominin material, and helped clean and conserve it.

Author information


  1. Archaeology & Palaeoanthropology, School of Human & Environmental Studies, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia

    • P. Brown
    •  & M. J. Morwood
  2. Indonesian Centre for Archaeology, Jl. Raya Condet Pejaten No. 4, Jakarta 12001, Indonesia

    • T. Sutikna
    • , R. P. Soejono
    • , Jatmiko
    • , E. Wayhu Saptomo
    •  & Rokus Awe Due


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Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. Brown.

Supplementary information

Word documents

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Table 1

    Comparative cranial and mandibular dimensions and indices for LB1, A. africanus, early Homo, Homo erectus, and a robust modern H. sapiens sample.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Table 2

    Buccolingual crown dimensions for the maxillary and mandibular teeth of LB1, and male and female modern H. sapiens (mm).

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Text File

    Captions for supplementary figures and tables, discussion and description of methods used.

Image files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Figure 1

    First and second principal component scores of linear measurements of the cranial vault in LB1, Indonesian, African and European H. erectus, H. habilis and Australopithecus africanus.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Figure 2

    Distal and occlusal views of the isolated LB2 mandibular left P3. Scale bar, 1 cm.

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