Ancient stone tools raise tantalizing questions over who colonized Sulawesi | Science News

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Ancient stone tools raise tantalizing questions over who colonized Sulawesi

One theory suggests hobbits or hobbit relatives floated to the Indonesian island

By
1:00pm, January 13, 2016
stone artifacts

ISLAND ROCK  These stone artifacts found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi were made by hominids that somehow made ocean crossings from mainland Asia by 194,000 years ago, and probably much earlier, scientists report. 

Stone tool‒makers ventured from Southeast Asia to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi deep in the Stone Age, far earlier than previously thought and probably before Homo sapiens originated in Africa 200,000 years ago, researchers say.

The discovery of ancient stone tools on Sulawesi, some of which date to as old as 194,000 years ago, also renews speculation about the evolutionary background of Homo floresiensis. Better known as the hobbit, H. floresiensis was a diminutive hominid that lived roughly 500 kilometers south of Sulawesi on the island of Flores at around the same time the Sulawesi tools were made.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if H. floresiensis or a closely related lineage was responsible for the Sulawesi artifacts,” says Harvard University archaeologist Christian Tryon, who did not participate in the new excavations. But the Sulawesi finds look

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