New Study Explains How Early Dwarf Humans Shrunk in Size

May 24, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. dwarf [dwawrf] (adj.) – unusually smaller than the normal size
Example: Scientists try to explain how the dwarf humans became so small.

2. shrink [shringk] (v.) – to become smaller in number or in size
 Example: The animals shrunk in size due to food shortage.

3. phenomenon [fi-NOM-uh-non] (n.) – a fact or an event that can be observed and studied
Example: The phenomenon of evolution can occur when destructive changes in the environment take place.

4. coexist [koh-ig-ZIST] (v.) – to live together at the same time or place
Example: Some of the earliest mammals may have coexisted with dinosaurs.

5. descendant [dih-SEN-duh nt] (n.) – a creature that developed from another creature that lived in the past
Example:  Charles Darwin says that man is a descendant of apes.  


Read the text below.

A new Japanese study published in the Proceedings B Journal suggested that a dwarf human species found in the Flores Island of Indonesia may have shrunk due to island dwarfism.

“Island dwarfism” is the gradual shrinking of the body size of a species in response to its environment. This phenomenon usually happens when a species relocates to a small island with limited food and other resources.

The discovery of the dwarf human species called the ‘Hobbit’ in 2003 caused worldwide debate among scholars. Scientists struggled to explain how these dwarf humans, with tiny brains and were only about one meter tall, coexisted with modern humans 12,000 years ago.

Scientists have three theories about the origin of the ‘hobbit.’ One theory says that the species belonged to a modern species who suffered a disease. Another theory states that the ‘hobbit’ came from ape-like species that traveled in Africa. The most popular theory, however, says that that these dwarf humans were descendants of the Homo erectus, the species in which humans today came from.

The new findings support the third theory, revealing that the Homo erectus’ brain may have possibly shrunk to that of the ‘hobbit’s’ brain size.   The Japanese study also strengthens an earlier research saying that the ‘hobbit,’ scientifically called Homo floresiensis, came from a different species.

However, Japanese researchers stressed that the results of the study do not prove that the ‘hobbit’ came from Homo erectus. The results of the study are merely some possibilities about the origin of the ‘hobbit,’ researchers said.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, which of the three theories is most likely true?  Please explain your answer.
·         Do you believe in the theory of evolution? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think it is important to know the origin of humans?
·         How can people preserve important facts and information about the origin of humans?


May 24, 2013