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Scholars Day 2005, Wednesday, April 13

Big Things Come in Small Packages: The Mysterious Case of Homo florensis

The recent discovery of the 18,000 year old Homo florensis, a 33 tall hominid with the cranial capacity of a chimpanzee, has sparked considerable debate among evolutionary anthropologists. Unlike modern humans (including short-statured pygmies) who have large cranial capacities (1200+ cc), the diminutive florensis may have been producing relatively advanced Paleolithic tools with a cranial capacity of only 350cc, about half that of the earliest documented Paleolithic humans and 30% that of the modern Homo sapiens who were distributed over Indonesia at that time. Numerous explanations have been presented to explain the paradox of small brain and sophisticated tools: The fossils did not make the tools; The fossil was pathological; Small brains are not necessary for sophisticated tool making, etc. This paper presents several alternative hypotheses relating to primate tool-use, energetics and brain function to help resolve this issue.

Presenter: Charles Edwards (Faculty)
Topic: Anthropology
Location: 121 Smith
Time: 1:45 pm (Session III)

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