Professor Mike Morwood, who has died aged 62, led a joint Australian-Indonesian team of archaeologists which, in 2003, uncovered what appeared to be the bones of a previously unknown species of human being on the remote Indonesian island of Flores — an event hailed as one of the most sensational findings of modern times.
The debate over H floresiensis feeds into a much wider reassessment of the story of how humans emerged. Instead of the linear narrative of successive waves of colonisation out of Africa, ending with the triumph of Homo sapiens, many scientists now see the evolutionary process as one with numerous different twists and turns involving many different species and centres of evolution. The Flores find suggests that rather than being an evolutionary backwater, Asia may have had a larger role in human evolution than previously thought.
Requiescat in lucem pacis aeternitatis.
See also: Flores man looked a lot like the rest of us. For more on that, see also USA Today’s take: “Ancient ‘hobbit’ species may have looked a lot like us” — “Looks aren’t everything, but Homo floresiensis, a.k.a. the hobbits, likely looked a lot more like us than previously suspected.” Also: “Basically, chimps don’t have human cheeks, the study argues, so past reconstructions of the hobbit’s face botched its likely looks. Or past efforts fell into the trap of assuming all early modern human species resembled “wild men,” “missing links” or “ape-men,” the study suggests.” We have commenters who do that.