Many of you will be familiar with the concept of two separate genus of man existing side by side in prehistoric times. I’m talking about Neanderthal and Homo-sapien. Recent studies have shown our homo-sapien ancestors may have contributed to the extinction of the neanderthals. It seems 3 factors were at play
- Neanderthals were unable to deal adequately with cold stress at a time of climactic change, 25-30,000 years ago
- Neanderthals needed to increase their energy intake and hence food consumption to keep warm. Homo-sapiens were more anatomically suited to keeping warm, making better use of increasingly scarce food resources
- Homo sapiens devised high-tech ways to keeping themselves warm including furs, boots etc.
However, in a remarkable paleoanthropological discovery, researchers have unearthed the remains of a dwarf human species that survived on the Indonesian island of Flores until just 13,000 years ago. This significantly extends the known range of physical variation in the homo-sapien genus and reveals that we shared the planet with other humans much more recently than previously believed.
This bantam human genus, dubbed Homo-floresiensis, stood around a metre tall and had a head slightly bigger than a grapefruit. Despite it’s compact cranium it developed sophisticated tools such as micro-blades, perforators and barbs. As the article points out islands have produced giants aswell as dwarves as evidenced by the giant komodo dragon lizard. Anyway, I keep wondering what we’ll learn about the evolution of man, the full extent of our genus and the factors that both shaped us and caused homo-sapien to prevail. It’s also an interesting assertion of the effect of genetic and environmental isolation on genetic development. More on this at a later date…