Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

No evidence of 'hobbit' ancestry in genomes of Flores Island pygmies
The University of California Santa Cruz ^ | August 2, 2018 | Tim Stephens

Posted on 08/06/2018 11:51:41 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Pygmy population near cave where Homo floresiensis fossils were found appears to have evolved short stature independently from the mysterious ancient hominins

A fossil skeleton found in a cave on Flores Island, Indonesia, in 2004 turned out to be a previously unknown, very small species of human. Nicknamed the "hobbit" (officially Homo floresiensis), it remains a mysterious species with an unknown relationship to modern humans.

Intriguingly, the current inhabitants of Flores include a pygmy population living in a village near the Liang Bua cave where the fossils were found. An international team of scientists has now sequenced and analyzed the genomes of 32 people in this population. The analysis revealed evolutionary changes associated with diet and short stature in the pygmy population, but the researchers found no evidence of genetic elements that might have come from H. floresiensis.

"If there was any chance to know the hobbit genetically from the genomes of extant humans, this would have been it. But we don’t see it. There is no indication of gene flow from the hobbit into people living today," said Richard E. Green, associate professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz and corresponding author of a paper on the findings published August 3 in Science.

Thus far, no one has been able to recover DNA from the H. floresiensis fossils. The researchers therefore searched the pygmy genome for any evidence of DNA sequences from an unknown ancient human lineage.

Green and other researchers previously recovered and sequenced DNA from fossils of other archaic humans—the Neanderthals and Denisovans—and determined that the genomes of some modern humans include DNA sequences inherited from those extinct human species. Those findings mean some interbreeding occurred in the distant past. The genomes of the Flores pygmies include small amounts of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA, similar to other populations in Southeast Asia and Melanesia.

"Genetically, they're not so different from other populations in that part of the world," Green said.

Genetic variants

Where they are different is in genes related to height and diet. Height is a very heritable trait, and geneticists have identified many genes for which certain variants are associated with taller or shorter stature. Green and his colleagues analyzed the Flores pygmy genomes with respect to height-associated genes identified in Europeans, and they found a high frequency of genetic variants associated with decreased height. This indicates that the evolution of short stature in the Flores pygmies was the result of natural selection acting on pre-existing genetic variation.

"It sounds like a boring result, but it's actually quite meaningful," Green said. "It means that these gene variants were present in a common ancestor of Europeans and the Flores pygmies. They became short by selection acting on this standing variation already present in the population, so there's little need for genes from an archaic hominin to explain their small stature."

Coauthor Peter Visscher at the University of Queensland, Australia, said the study addresses fundamental questions about human adaptation. "Just as livestock breeding happens through small changes in gene frequencies at very many loci, human adaptation works by exploiting the pool of polygenic variation available for selection," Visscher said.

The Flores pygmy genome showed evidence of selection in genes for enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism, called FADS enzymes (fatty acid desaturase). These genes have been associated with dietary adaptations in other populations, including the Inuit in Greenland. "It suggests that something in the past caused their diet to change dramatically, and they adapted by natural selection favoring certain variants of those genes," Green said.

The fossil evidence indicates H. floresiensis was significantly smaller than the Flores pygmies, standing about three and a half feet tall (106 centimeters). The average height of the pygmies is more than a foot taller (145 centimeters).

Island dwarfism

The evolution of reduced body size in large mammals isolated on islands is a common phenomenon, often attributed to limited food resources and freedom from predators. At the time of H. floresiensis, Flores was also home to a dwarf elephant related to a now extinct species of mainland elephant. In general, large species tend to get smaller and small species tend to get larger on islands. The Flores giant rat is an example of the latter tendency.

"Weird things happen on islands," Green said. "With the gene pool cut off from the larger population, an island population is free to evolve in unrestrained directions based on the demands of a small ecosystem."

It is interesting that two different human species, one modern and the other now extinct, independently evolved short stature on Flores Island, he said. For now, however, the origins and relationships of the Flores hobbit, H. floresiensis, remain a mystery.

This research involved a large international collaboration. Green and Joshua Akey of Princeton University were the senior principal investigators, and Serena Tucci of Princeton is first author of the paper. Herawati Sudoyo and Gludhug Purnomo of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta, Indonesia, oversaw the collection of samples for genome sequencing from the Flores pygmies, and Purnomo assisted with sample processing at UC Santa Cruz. Other coauthors include Peter Visscher at the University of Queensland, Australia; Samuel Vohr at UC Santa Cruz; Rajiv McCoy at Princeton University; Benjamin Vernot at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany; Matthew Robinson at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Chiara Barbieri at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany; Brad Nelson, Wenqing Fu, and Evan Eichler at the University of Washington, Seattle; and Guido Barbujani at the University of Ferrara, Italy.

This work was supported in part by the Searle Scholars Program, U.S. National Institutes of Health, European Research Council, Australian Research Council, and the Ministry of Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia.


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: anthropology; denisovans; floresisland; genomes; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; hobbits; homofloresiensis; indonesia; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals

1 posted on 08/06/2018 11:51:41 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Yes, but was there evidence of a shire?


2 posted on 08/06/2018 11:55:43 PM PDT by VRW Conspirator (Enforce the Law. Build the Wall. Deport them All.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Would they look alright if they wore a cloak and a hat? -Karl Pilkington


3 posted on 08/07/2018 12:00:42 AM PDT by 1_Inch_Group (If a lion could speak, we could not understand him)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 1_Inch_Group

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwr_-QJu5c4


4 posted on 08/07/2018 12:03:35 AM PDT by 1_Inch_Group (If a lion could speak, we could not understand him)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
"Thus far, no one has been able to recover DNA from the H. floresiensis fossils."

Contrary to the article's title, they are saying that they don't have any basis for any definitive conclusions. They don't really know if the ancient fossils are related to present day populations or not.

I'm reminded of the old saw which the writer should have taken to heart:

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Until they can actually extract DNA from the fossils, they are left only with conjecture.
5 posted on 08/07/2018 1:04:03 AM PDT by Governor Dinwiddie ("Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
There is no indication of gene flow from the hobbit into people living today,"

Now if they could capture this gene flow blocker we might just have a solution for liberalism. Maybe

6 posted on 08/07/2018 2:44:23 AM PDT by eartick (Stupidity is expecting the government that broke itself to go out and fix itself. Texan for TEXIT!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

bookmark


7 posted on 08/07/2018 5:01:18 AM PDT by GOP Poet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

The best evidence against global warming killing the planet is that we are not all pygmies.

A dying planet would have limited resources just like the island they were living on.


8 posted on 08/07/2018 5:09:36 AM PDT by fruser1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 31R1O; ...
Thanks 2ndDivisionVet.

9 posted on 08/07/2018 12:59:04 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (www.tapatalk.com/groups/godsgravesglyphs/, forum.darwincentral.org, www.gopbriefingroom.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Leprechauns?
Elves?
Fairies?
Pixies?


10 posted on 08/07/2018 1:00:13 PM PDT by Red Badger (July 2018 - the month the world learns the TRUTH......Q Anon)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Leprechauns?
Elves?
Fairies?
Pixies?

At this juncture, it's too early to rule anything out.

11 posted on 08/07/2018 1:07:10 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (CrossFit.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

I was at the grocery store recently and there was a mature woman, 30 something, employed at the c heck out counter. I doubt if she was more than 4’ at the most. She was not dwarf, merely
very small.


12 posted on 08/07/2018 1:25:32 PM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12) Sanctuary is Sedition)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: bert

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Thumb


13 posted on 08/07/2018 1:28:47 PM PDT by Red Badger (July 2018 - the month the world learns the TRUTH......Q Anon)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
The Flores relatives and similar (extinct?) folk could very well be the reason humanity has such figures in folklore.

14 posted on 08/13/2018 4:31:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (www.tapatalk.com/groups/godsgravesglyphs/, forum.darwincentral.org, www.gopbriefingroom.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson