the Homo erectus populations in Asia some 50,000 years ago. A second and even more astonishing overlap between modern humans and Homo erectus was recently reported from the Indonesian island of Flores, which lies between Indonesia and Australia. From the floor of a riverside cave, archaeologists recovered a series of fossil human remains of which the oldest is 95,000 years and the youngest 13,000 years. The remains belong to some seven individuals and include one complete skull. These people stood about three and half feet tall but were not human pygmies. Rather, they were a downsized version of Homo erectus, according to their discoverers and other experts. ^
Island geography imposes special evolutionary constraints on arriving species, often propelling small species to giant size and downsizing large ones. The island of Flores was home to a species of giant rat and to lizards that evolved into the carnivorous Komodo dragons, 10 feet in length, as well as an even larger lizard, now extinct. This lost world was roamed by packs of pygmy elephants. And its human occupants too, it seems, were also downsized. The little Floresians present many paradoxes with which paleoanthropologists are still grappling. They made sophisticated stone tools similar to those crafted by modern humans and unlike any previously associated with Homo erectus. Yet their brains, miniaturized along with their bodies, were about the same size as those of chimpanzees and the australopithecines, neither of which could fashion stone tools. Skeptics suggest that if the Floresians made the tools found with them, they must be modern humans, perhaps of some pathological form. But other experts say the surviving skull is clearly of
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