Publications by authors named "Thomas Sutikna"

19 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Mitogenomics of macaques (Macaca) across Wallace's Line in the context of modern human dispersals.

J Hum Evol 2020 09 8;146:102852. Epub 2020 Aug 8.

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103, Leipzig, Germany.

Wallace's Line demarcates a biogeographical boundary between the Indomalaya and Australasian ecoregions. Most placental mammalian genera, for example, occur to the west of this line, whereas most marsupial genera occur to the east. However, macaque monkeys are unusual because they naturally occur on both western and eastern sides. To further explore this anomalous distribution, we analyzed 222 mitochondrial genomes from ∼20 macaque species, including new genomes from 60 specimens. These comprise a population sampling of most Sulawesi macaques, Macaca fascicularis (long-tailed macaques) specimens that were collected by Alfred R. Wallace and specimens that were recovered during archaeological excavations at Liang Bua, a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. In M. fascicularis, three mitochondrial lineages span the southernmost portion of Wallace's Line between Bali and Lombok, and divergences within these lineages are contemporaneous with, and possibly mediated by, past dispersals of modern human populations. Near the central portion of Wallace's Line between Borneo and Sulawesi, a more ancient dispersal of macaques from mainland Asia to Sulawesi preceded modern human colonization, which was followed by rapid dispersal of matrilines and was subsequently influenced by recent interspecies hybridization. In contrast to previous studies, we find no strong signal of recombination in most macaque mitochondrial genomes. These findings further characterize macaque evolution before and after modern human dispersal throughout Southeast Asia and point to possible effects on biodiversity of ancient human cultural diasporas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2020.102852DOI Listing
September 2020

Combined organic biomarker and use-wear analyses of stone artefacts from Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia.

Sci Rep 2019 11 26;9(1):17553. Epub 2019 Nov 26.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, 2522, Australia.

Organic biomarker and lithic use-wear analyses of archaeological implements manufactured and/or used by hominins in the past offers a means of assessing how prehistoric peoples utilised natural resources. Currently, most studies focus on one of these techniques, rather than using both in sequence. This study aims to assess the potential of combining both methods to analyse stone artefacts, using a set of 69 stones excavated from the cave site of Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia). Prior to chemical analysis, an initial inspection of the artefacts revealed potential use-wear traces but no visible residues. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, including the targeting of 86 lipids, terpenes, terpenoids, alkanes and their analogues, found compounds with plant or animal origin on 27 of the 69 stones. The artefacts were subsequently cleaned, and use-wear analysis identified traces of use on 43 artefacts. Use-wear analysis confirmed traces of use on 23 of the 27 artefacts with potential use-residues that were determined by GC-MS. The GC-MS results were broadly consistent with the functional classes identified in the later use-wear analysis. This inclusive approach for stone artefact analysis strengthens the identifications made through multiple lines of enquiry. There remain conflicts and uncertainties in specific cases, suggesting the need for further refinement and analyses of the relationships between use-wear and residues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53782-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6879511PMC
November 2019

Temporal shifts in the distribution of murine rodent body size classes at Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia) reveal new insights into the paleoecology of Homo floresiensis and associated fauna.

J Hum Evol 2019 05 14;130:45-60. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia; School of Biological Sciences, Environment Institute, and Centre for Applied Conservation Science, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 Australia.

Liang Bua, the type locality of Homo floresiensis, is a limestone cave located in the western part of the Indonesian island of Flores. The relatively continuous stratigraphic sequence of the site spans the past ∼190 kyr and contains ∼275,000 taxonomically identifiable vertebrate skeletal elements, ∼80% of which belong to murine rodent taxa (i.e., rats). Six described genera are present at Liang Bua (Papagomys, Spelaeomys, Hooijeromys, Komodomys, Paulamys, and Rattus), one of which, Hooijeromys, is newly recorded in the site deposits, being previously known only from Early to Middle Pleistocene sites in central Flores. Measurements of the proximal femur (n = 10,212) and distal humerus (n = 1186) indicate five murine body size classes ranging from small (mouse-sized) to giant (common rabbit-sized) are present. The proportions of these five classes across successive stratigraphic units reveal two major changes in murine body size distribution due to significant shifts in the abundances of more open habitat-adapted medium-sized murines versus more closed habitat-adapted smaller-sized ones. One of these changes suggests a modest increase in available open habitats occurred ∼3 ka, likely the result of anthropogenic changes to the landscape related to farming by modern human populations. The other and more significant change occurred ∼60 ka suggesting a rapid shift from more open habitats to more closed conditions at this time. The abrupt reduction of medium-sized murines, along with the disappearance of H. floresiensis, Stegodon florensis insularis (an extinct proboscidean), Varanus komodoensis (Komodo dragon), Leptoptilos robustus (giant marabou stork), and Trigonoceps sp. (vulture) at Liang Bua ∼60-50 ka, is likely the consequence of these animals preferring and tracking more open habitats to elsewhere on the island. If correct, then the precise timing and nature of the extinction of H. floresiensis and its contemporaries must await new discoveries at Liang Bua or other as yet unexcavated sites on Flores.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.02.002DOI Listing
May 2019

The spatio-temporal distribution of archaeological and faunal finds at Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia) in light of the revised chronology for Homo floresiensis.

J Hum Evol 2018 11 31;124:52-74. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia; Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Liang Bua, the type site of Homo floresiensis, is a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores with sedimentary deposits currently known to range in age from about 190 thousand years (ka) ago to the present. Recent revision of the stratigraphy and chronology of this depositional sequence suggests that skeletal remains of H. floresiensis are between ∼100 and 60 ka old, while cultural evidence of this taxon occurs until ∼50 ka ago. Here we examine the compositions of the faunal communities and stone artifacts, by broad taxonomic groups and raw materials, throughout the ∼190 ka time interval preserved in the sequence. Major shifts are observed in both the faunal and stone artifact assemblages that reflect marked changes in paleoecology and hominin behavior, respectively. Our results suggest that H. floresiensis and Stegodon florensis insularis, along with giant marabou stork (Leptoptilos robustus) and vulture (Trigonoceps sp.), were likely extinct by ∼50 ka ago. Moreover, an abrupt and statistically significant shift in raw material preference due to an increased use of chert occurs ∼46 thousand calibrated radiocarbon (C) years before present (ka cal. BP), a pattern that continues through the subsequent stratigraphic sequence. If an increased preference for chert does, in fact, characterize Homo sapiens assemblages at Liang Bua, as previous studies have suggested (e.g., Moore et al., 2009), then the shift observed here suggests that modern humans arrived on Flores by ∼46 ka cal. BP, which would be the earliest cultural evidence of modern humans in Indonesia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2018.07.001DOI Listing
November 2018

Late Pleistocene songbirds of Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia); the first fossil passerine fauna described from Wallacea.

PeerJ 2017 17;5:e3676. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Ornithological Section, Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Background: Passerines (Aves: Passeriformes) dominate modern terrestrial bird communities yet their fossil record is limited. Liang Bua is a large cave on the Indonesian island of Flores that preserves Late Pleistocene-Holocene deposits (∼190 ka to present day). Birds are the most diverse faunal group at Liang Bua and are present throughout the stratigraphic sequence.

Methods: We examined avian remains from the Late Pleistocene deposits of Sector XII, a 2 × 2 m area excavated to about 8.5 m depth. Although postcranial passerine remains are typically challenging to identify, we found several humeral characters particularly useful in discriminating between groups, and identified 89 skeletal elements of passerines.

Results: At least eight species from eight families are represented, including the Large-billed Crow ( cf. ) the Australasian Bushlark () a friarbird ( sp.), and the Pechora Pipit ( cf. )

Discussion: These remains constitute the first sample of fossil passerines described in Wallacea. Two of the taxa no longer occur on Flores today; a large sturnid (cf. ) and a grassbird ( sp.). Palaeoecologically, the songbird assemblage suggests open grassland and tall forests, which is consistent with conditions inferred from the non-passerine fauna at the site. cf. , found in the -bearing layers, was likely part of a scavenging guild that fed on carcasses of alongside vultures ( sp.), giant storks (), komodo dragons (), and probably as well.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3676DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563437PMC
August 2017

Age and context of the oldest known hominin fossils from Flores.

Nature 2016 06;534(7606):249-53

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth &Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Recent excavations at the early Middle Pleistocene site of Mata Menge in the So'a Basin of central Flores, Indonesia, have yielded hominin fossils attributed to a population ancestral to Late Pleistocene Homo floresiensis. Here we describe the age and context of the Mata Menge hominin specimens and associated archaeological findings. The fluvial sandstone layer from which the in situ fossils were excavated in 2014 was deposited in a small valley stream around 700 thousand years ago, as indicated by (40)Ar/(39)Ar and fission track dates on stratigraphically bracketing volcanic ash and pyroclastic density current deposits, in combination with coupled uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating of fossil teeth. Palaeoenvironmental data indicate a relatively dry climate in the So'a Basin during the early Middle Pleistocene, while various lines of evidence suggest the hominins inhabited a savannah-like open grassland habitat with a wetland component. The hominin fossils occur alongside the remains of an insular fauna and a simple stone technology that is markedly similar to that associated with Late Pleistocene H. floresiensis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17663DOI Listing
June 2016

Revised stratigraphy and chronology for Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua in Indonesia.

Nature 2016 Apr 30;532(7599):366-9. Epub 2016 Mar 30.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Homo floresiensis, a primitive hominin species discovered in Late Pleistocene sediments at Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia), has generated wide interest and scientific debate. A major reason this taxon is controversial is because the H. floresiensis-bearing deposits, which include associated stone artefacts and remains of other extinct endemic fauna, were dated to between about 95 and 12 thousand calendar years (kyr) ago. These ages suggested that H. floresiensis survived until long after modern humans reached Australia by ~50 kyr ago. Here we report new stratigraphic and chronological evidence from Liang Bua that does not support the ages inferred previously for the H. floresiensis holotype (LB1), ~18 thousand calibrated radiocarbon years before present (kyr cal. BP), or the time of last appearance of this species (about 17 or 13-11 kyr cal. BP). Instead, the skeletal remains of H. floresiensis and the deposits containing them are dated to between about 100 and 60 kyr ago, whereas stone artefacts attributable to this species range from about 190 to 50 kyr in age. Whether H. floresiensis survived after 50 kyr ago--potentially encountering modern humans on Flores or other hominins dispersing through southeast Asia, such as Denisovans--is an open question.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17179DOI Listing
April 2016

Unique Dental Morphology of Homo floresiensis and Its Evolutionary Implications.

PLoS One 2015 18;10(11):e0141614. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

Centre for Archaeological Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.

Homo floresiensis is an extinct, diminutive hominin species discovered in the Late Pleistocene deposits of Liang Bua cave, Flores, eastern Indonesia. The nature and evolutionary origins of H. floresiensis' unique physical characters have been intensively debated. Based on extensive comparisons using linear metric analyses, crown contour analyses, and other trait-by-trait morphological comparisons, we report here that the dental remains from multiple individuals indicate that H. floresiensis had primitive canine-premolar and advanced molar morphologies, a combination of dental traits unknown in any other hominin species. The primitive aspects are comparable to H. erectus from the Early Pleistocene, whereas some of the molar morphologies are more progressive even compared to those of modern humans. This evidence contradicts the earlier claim of an entirely modern human-like dental morphology of H. floresiensis, while at the same time does not support the hypothesis that H. floresiensis originated from a much older H. habilis or Australopithecus-like small-brained hominin species currently unknown in the Asian fossil record. These results are however consistent with the alternative hypothesis that H. floresiensis derived from an earlier Asian Homo erectus population and experienced substantial body and brain size dwarfism in an isolated insular setting. The dentition of H. floresiensis is not a simple, scaled-down version of earlier hominins.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141614PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651360PMC
June 2016

Michael John Morwood (1950-2013).

Nature 2013 Aug;500(7463):401

Centre for Archaeological Science, University of Wollongong, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/500401aDOI Listing
August 2013

New wrist bones of Homo floresiensis from Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia).

J Hum Evol 2013 Feb 4;64(2):109-29. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University, Health Sciences Center T-8 040, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8081, USA.

The carpals from the Homo floresiensis type specimen (LB1) lack features that compose the shared, derived complex of the radial side of the wrist in Neandertals and modern humans. This paper comprises a description and three-dimensional morphometric analysis of new carpals from at least one other individual at Liang Bua attributed to H. floresiensis: a right capitate and two hamates. The new capitate is smaller than that of LB1 but is nearly identical in morphology. As with capitates from extant apes, species of Australopithecus, and LB1, the newly described capitate displays a deeply-excavated nonarticular area along its radial aspect, a scaphoid facet that extends into a J-hook articulation on the neck, and a more radially-oriented second metacarpal facet; it also lacks an enlarged palmarly-positioned trapezoid facet. Because there is no accommodation for the derived, palmarly blocky trapezoid that characterizes Homo sapiens and Neandertals, this individual most likely had a plesiomorphically wedge-shaped trapezoid (like LB1). Morphometric analyses confirm the close similarity of the new capitate and that of LB1, and are consistent with previous findings of an overall primitive articular geometry. In general, hamate morphology is more conserved across hominins, and the H. floresiensis specimens fall at the far edge of the range of variation for H. sapiens in a number of metrics. However, the hamate of H. floresiensis is exceptionally small and exhibits a relatively long, stout hamulus lacking the oval-shaped cross-section characteristic of human and Neandertal hamuli (variably present in australopiths). Documentation of a second individual with primitive carpal anatomy from Liang Bua, along with further analysis of trapezoid scaling relative to the capitate in LB1, refutes claims that the wrist of the type specimen represents a modern human with pathology. In total, the carpal anatomy of H. floresiensis supports the hypothesis that the lineage leading to the evolution of this species originated prior to the cladogenetic event that gave rise to modern humans and Neandertals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.10.003DOI Listing
February 2013

Craniofacial morphology of Homo floresiensis: description, taxonomic affinities, and evolutionary implication.

J Hum Evol 2011 Dec 28;61(6):644-82. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Nature and Science, 4-1-1 Amakubo, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture Japan.

This paper describes in detail the external morphology of LB1/1, the nearly complete and only known cranium of Homo floresiensis. Comparisons were made with a large sample of early groups of the genus Homo to assess primitive, derived, and unique craniofacial traits of LB1 and discuss its evolution. Principal cranial shape differences between H. floresiensis and Homo sapiens are also explored metrically. The LB1 specimen exhibits a marked reductive trend in its facial skeleton, which is comparable to the H. sapiens condition and is probably associated with reduced masticatory stresses. However, LB1 is craniometrically different from H. sapiens showing an extremely small overall cranial size, and the combination of a primitive low and anteriorly narrow vault shape, a relatively prognathic face, a rounded oval foramen that is greatly separated anteriorly from the carotid canal/jugular foramen, and a unique, tall orbital shape. Whereas the neurocranium of LB1 is as small as that of some Homo habilis specimens, it exhibits laterally expanded parietals, a weak suprameatal crest, a moderately flexed occipital, a marked facial reduction, and many other derived features that characterize post-habilis Homo. Other craniofacial characteristics of LB1 include, for example, a relatively narrow frontal squama with flattened right and left sides, a marked frontal keel, posteriorly divergent temporal lines, a posteriorly flexed anteromedial corner of the mandibular fossa, a bulbous lateral end of the supraorbital torus, and a forward protruding maxillary body with a distinct infraorbital sulcus. LB1 is most similar to early Javanese Homo erectus from Sangiran and Trinil in these and other aspects. We conclude that the craniofacial morphology of LB1 is consistent with the hypothesis that H. floresiensis evolved from early Javanese H. erectus with dramatic island dwarfism. However, further field discoveries of early hominin skeletal remains from Flores and detailed analyses of the finds are needed to understand the evolutionary history of this endemic hominin species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.08.008DOI Listing
December 2011

Brief communication: "Pathological" deformation in the skull of LB1, the type specimen of Homo floresiensis.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2009 Sep;140(1):177-85

Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo 169-0073, Japan.

If the holotype of Homo floresiensis, LB1, suffered from a severe developmental pathology, this could undermine its status as the holotype of a new species. One of the proposed pathological indicators that still remains untested is asymmetric distortion in the skull of LB1 (Jacob et al.: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103 (2006) 13421-13426). Here, we present evidence that LB1 exhibits antemortem craniofacial deformities that are consistent with posterior deformational (positional) plagiocephaly. This is a relatively common condition in modern people with no serious associated health problems and does not represent a severe developmental abnormality in LB1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21066DOI Listing
September 2009

The type specimen (LB1) of Homo floresiensis did not have Laron syndrome.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2009 Sep;140(1):52-63

Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-7772, USA.

The type specimen (LB1) of Homo floresiensis has been hypothesized to be a pathological human afflicted with Laron Syndrome (LS), a type of primary growth hormone insensitivity (Hershkovitz et al.: Am J Phys Anthropol 134 [2007] 198-208). Comparing measurements, photographs and three-dimensional, computed-tomography reconstructions of LB1 with data and diagnoses from the literature on LS, we critically evaluate numerous skull and postcranial traits that Hershkovitz et al. identified as being shared by LB1 and patients with LS. The statements regarding most of these traits are new to the clinical literature and lack quantitative support. LB1 and patients with LS differ markedly in the size and shape of the cranium; thickness and pneumatization of cranial bones; morphology of the face, mandible, teeth, and chin; form of the shoulder, wrist, and pelvis; and general body proportions including relative foot size. Claims that patients with LS are similar to LB1 in displaying protracted scapulae, short clavicles, low degrees of humeral torsion, flaring ilia, and curved tibiae are not supported by data or corroborating images. Some points of similarity (e.g., femoral neck-shaft angle, femoral bicondylar angle, and estimated stature) can be found in other hominins, and cannot be considered diagnostic. From our review and analysis, we conclude that LB1 did not suffer from LS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21035DOI Listing
September 2009

LB1's virtual endocast, microcephaly, and hominin brain evolution.

J Hum Evol 2009 Nov 28;57(5):597-607. Epub 2009 Feb 28.

Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 32306, USA.

Earlier observations of the virtual endocast of LB1, the type specimen for Homo floresiensis, are reviewed, extended, and interpreted. Seven derived features of LB1's cerebral cortex are detailed: a caudally-positioned occipital lobe, lack of a rostrally-located lunate sulcus, a caudally-expanded temporal lobe, advanced morphology of the lateral prefrontal cortex, shape of the rostral prefrontal cortex, enlarged gyri in the frontopolar region, and an expanded orbitofrontal cortex. These features indicate that LB1's brain was globally reorganized despite its ape-sized cranial capacity (417cm(3)). Neurological reorganization may thus form the basis for the cognitive abilities attributed to H. floresiensis. Because of its tiny cranial capacity, some workers think that LB1 represents a Homo sapiens individual that was afflicted with microcephaly, or some other pathology, rather than a new species of hominin. We respond to concerns about our earlier study of microcephalics compared with normal individuals, and reaffirm that LB1 did not suffer from this pathology. The intense controversy about LB1 reflects an older continuing dispute about the relative evolutionary importance of brain size versus neurological reorganization. LB1 may help resolve this debate and illuminate constraints that governed hominin brain evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.10.008DOI Listing
November 2009

The primitive wrist of Homo floresiensis and its implications for hominin evolution.

Science 2007 Sep;317(5845):1743-5

Human Origins Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.

Whether the Late Pleistocene hominin fossils from Flores, Indonesia, represent a new species, Homo floresiensis, or pathological modern humans has been debated. Analysis of three wrist bones from the holotype specimen (LB1) shows that it retains wrist morphology that is primitive for the African ape-human clade. In contrast, Neandertals and modern humans share derived wrist morphology that forms during embryogenesis, which diminishes the probability that pathology could result in the normal primitive state. This evidence indicates that LB1 is not a modern human with an undiagnosed pathology or growth defect; rather, it represents a species descended from a hominin ancestor that branched off before the origin of the clade that includes modern humans, Neandertals, and their last common ancestor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1147143DOI Listing
September 2007

Homo floresiensis and the evolution of the hominin shoulder.

J Hum Evol 2007 Dec 13;53(6):718-31. Epub 2007 Aug 13.

Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY, USA.

The holotype of Homo floresiensis, diminutive hominins with tiny brains living until 12,000 years ago on the island of Flores, is a partial skeleton (LB1) that includes a partial clavicle (LB1/5) and a nearly complete right humerus (LB1/50). Although the humerus appears fairly modern in most regards, it is remarkable in displaying only 110 degrees of humeral torsion, well below modern human average values. Assuming a modern human shoulder configuration, such a low degree of humeral torsion would result in a lateral set to the elbow. Such an elbow joint would function more nearly in a frontal than in a sagittal plane, and this is certainly not what anyone would have predicted for a tool-making Pleistocene hominin. We argue that Homo floresiensis probably did not have a modern human shoulder configuration: the clavicle was relatively short, and we suggest that the scapula was more protracted, resulting in a glenoid fossa that faced anteriorly rather than laterally. A posteriorly directed humeral head was therefore appropriate for maintaining a normally functioning elbow joint. Similar morphology in the Homo erectus Nariokotome boy (KNM-WT 15000) suggests that this shoulder configuration may represent a transitional stage in pectoral girdle evolution in the human lineage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.06.003DOI Listing
December 2007

Brain shape in human microcephalics and Homo floresiensis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2007 Feb 2;104(7):2513-8. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.

Because the cranial capacity of LB1 (Homo floresiensis) is only 417 cm(3), some workers propose that it represents a microcephalic Homo sapiens rather than a new species. This hypothesis is difficult to assess, however, without a clear understanding of how brain shape of microcephalics compares with that of normal humans. We compare three-dimensional computed tomographic reconstructions of the internal braincases (virtual endocasts that reproduce details of external brain morphology, including cranial capacities and shape) from a sample of 9 microcephalic humans and 10 normal humans. Discriminant and canonical analyses are used to identify two variables that classify normal and microcephalic humans with 100% success. The classification functions classify the virtual endocast from LB1 with normal humans rather than microcephalics. On the other hand, our classification functions classify a pathological H. sapiens specimen that, like LB1, represents an approximately 3-foot-tall adult female and an adult Basuto microcephalic woman that is alleged to have an endocast similar to LB1's with the microcephalic humans. Although microcephaly is genetically and clinically variable, virtual endocasts from our highly heterogeneous sample share similarities in protruding and proportionately large cerebella and relatively narrow, flattened orbital surfaces compared with normal humans. These findings have relevance for hypotheses regarding the genetic substrates of hominin brain evolution and may have medical diagnostic value. Despite LB1's having brain shape features that sort it with normal humans rather than microcephalics, other shape features and its small brain size are consistent with its assignment to a separate species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0609185104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892980PMC
February 2007

The brain of LB1, Homo floresiensis.

Science 2005 Apr;308(5719):242-5

Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA

The brain of Homo floresiensis was assessed by comparing a virtual endocast from the type specimen (LB1) with endocasts from great apes, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens, a human pygmy, a human microcephalic, specimen number Sts 5 (Australopithecus africanus), and specimen number WT 17000 (Paranthropus aethiopicus). Morphometric, allometric, and shape data indicate that LB1 is not a microcephalic or pygmy. LB1's brain/body size ratio scales like that of an australopithecine, but its endocast shape resembles that of Homo erectus. LB1 has derived frontal and temporal lobes and a lunate sulcus in a derived position, which are consistent with capabilities for higher cognitive processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1109727DOI Listing
April 2005