Hobbits mastered use of tools 40,000 years before modern humans

November 14th, 2007 - 1:57 am ICT by admin  
More surprisingly, they did so at least 40,000 years before modern humans arrived on their home island of Flores in Indonesia, the study revealed.

The scientists studied wear patterns and residue on about 100 stone tools found with the remains of hobbits (Homo floresiensis) in Liang Bua cave by Australian and Indonesian researchers.

The researchers found evidence of plant work and butchery on stone flakes and cobbles from archaeological layers ranging from 12,000 to 55,000 years old.

The scientists also identified blood and bone on some tools. The team discovered the remains of fires and numerous animal bones, especially of baby stegodons (small elephants), komodo dragons and giant rats. The animal bones were found near tools and hobbit remains, and had cut marks indicative of butchery.

But the researchers also found that more than 90 per cent of the residues were from woody and fibrous plants.

They said it didn’t mean that the metre-high people ate only a little meat, but rather that most of the tools studied so far were used for working with plants.

“Maybe they were making spear-shafts or traps or sharpening sticks. “So far there’s no evidence they used stone spear points for hunting. They probably used fire-hardened sticks,” said Dr Carol Lentfer, a University of Queensland archaeologist and Southern Cross University paleobotanist.

“We’re talking about a creature that was fairly well advanced. It was able to use stone tools to make other tools - value-adding in a sense,” Dr Lentfer said.

Dr Lentfer said it was likely that the hobbits were scavengers, as well as hunters of young or small animals.

The meat was supplemented by fruits, tubers, leaves, nuts and seeds that did not need preparation, Dr Lentfer said.

“It looks like they were coming to the cave every now and then, dragging in bits and pieces of carcasses,” she said.

Dr Lentfer and her team plan to conduct more studies on chopping tools and elongated stone flakes. (ANI)

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