The diminutive prehistoric human species dubbed the “Hobbit” that inhabited the isle of Flores apparently had company on other Indonesian islands long before our species, Homo sapiens, arrived on the scene.
Scientists have discovered stone tools at least 118,000 years old at a site called Talepu on the island of Sulawesi, indicating a human presence. Scientists said no fossils of these individuals were found in conjunction with the tools, leaving the toolmakers’ identities a mystery.
“We now have direct evidence that when modern humans arrived on Sulawesi, supposedly between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago and aided by watercraft, they must have encountered an archaic group of humans that was already present on the island long before,” said archaeologist Gerrit van den Bergh of University of Wollongong in Australia.
The original 2004 announcement of the discovery in a Flores cave of fossils of Homo floresiensis, a species about 1.1-meters tall that made tools and hunted little elephants, jolted the scientific community.
Scientists have been eager to unravel the region’s history of human habitation. Sulawesi may have served as a stepping stone for the first people to reach Australia roughly 50,000 years ago. Reuters