In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Tolkien was thinking of a low hillock crowned by a great tree probably somewhere in his native Warwickshire. After his philological discovery he came to the conclusion there were three hobbit races – the harfoots, the stoors, and the fallohides. 

Of the three, the fallohides were the tallest and slimmest as well as the most linguistically gifted where as the stoors were broad and stubborn, and the more numerous harfoots were the shortest of the three.Now a new, diminutive species of ancient humans have been found in the Philippines and they are smaller than Homo Floresiensis.

What is Homo Luzonensis?

Have archaeologists found the harfoots? No, not quite. The Philippine discover definitely adds a new chapter to the human story but it seems to be a distinct population to its Indonesian cousin. Let’s take a look.

Homo Luzonensis is the name for the new human ancestor, as with homo floresiensis, it’s named after the island on which it was first discovered. Bones were found in Callao cave on the largest island in the Philippines and are the result of 12 years of research.

These excavations have so far revealed 13 bones in total dating to 50,000 years ago. These include a metatarsal found in 2007 as well as teeth belonging to two adults and one child, and bones relating to hands, feet, and thighs.

The date 

How does Homo Luzonensis compare to other humans?

One might expect the new species, given its diminutive size – they were only 4 feet tall after all, that they were deeply related to Homo Floresiensis. However, analysis is showing relationships with other humans such as:

  1. Curved feet and finger bones as found in Australopithecus
  2. Small molars like modern humans
  3. Premolars similar to Australopithecus, Habilis, and Erectus

A new species or a missing link?

One of the largest criticisms of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is that we are missing so many so-called missing link remains. These are steps between what a species was and what it became next. 

Now, this is not surprising if you think about it. In the 10,000 or so years since Atlantis supposedly sank, we have lost most evidence of the times. Let me put it another way, if all humans disappeared today and reappeared in 10,000 years time only the pyramids and maybe Mount Rushmore would still be there. That’s it. Even all that evil plastic would be gone.

Therefore it’s easy to see why we do not find missing link species. There are specific sets of circumstances which need to occur for bones to survive a long time – the environmental factors required to fossilize them. 99.99% of organic remains decompose into nothing within a relatively short amount of time.

Given Homo Luzonensis has so many small characteristics of other species, and assuming the remains are not a random mix but are from a distinct species, I’d suggest that it is an evolution. 

My opinion is that humans evolved in southeast Asia, but that the evidence has melted away. This is based on human diversity in the area, population density and the fact that our antecedents – the great apes, evolved in the area. Irregardless of that theory, the combination of features shows human evolution in action with new and ancient DNA coming to the fore as evolved.

A word of warning

Seeing a composite of characteristics from different humans has me sceptical. Of course should DNA evidence prove them all related that’s great. As would be evidence which shows they all existed in a similar time frame, but were from distinct species which got jumbled together tens of thousands of years ago by natural forces. It could happen.

However, the composite nature has me worried about another Piltdown Man hoax. In 1912 Charles Dawson claimed to have found the missing link between man and ape, but in 1953 it was proven to be a fake consisting of orangutan teeth and the skull of a small-brained modern human. 

I truly hope this is a real find where the bones have come from this small number of individuals and are related. That would help expand our knowledge of human evolution, further filling in some of the many gaps still present. The biggest of course being how humans and neanderthals separated as species 1 million years ago but the oldest known human bone is only 300,000 years old…