Pygmies from the island of Flores did not interbreed with the “hobbits”

Genetics did not find the DNA traces of the famous “hobbits” in the genome of modern pygmies living on the island of Flores next to those caves where these ancient people lived. Their conclusions were presented in an article published in the journal Science.

“If the” hobbits “had any chances to” inherit “in the genome of modern people, these pygmies should have been their closest relatives.” We did not find any traces of this, which means that in the genomes of modern people there is not a single drop of DNA these hominids, “- says Richard Green (Richard Green) from the University of California in Santa Cruz (USA).

Remains of ancient people, about a meter in height, which the press almost immediately called “hobbits”, were found in the cave of Liang Bois on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 and presented to the public in October 2004 by a team of scientists led by the late paleontologist Michael Morvud, one of the authors current discovery.

Morvud and his colleagues declared their discovery a new species, named Homo floresiensis. Initially, paleontologists believed that the Floressian people were descendants of a Homo erectus (Homo erectus) person. Thanks to the phenomenon of so-called “island dwarfism” for millions of years of isolation, these ancient people gradually degenerated into hobbits, whose brain was three times less than modern Homo sapiens.

The absence of new fossils led many scientists to believe that the “hobbits” were ordinary people who turned into dwarfs due to congenital malformations. Only recently did scientists provide convincing evidence that the “hobbits” were a separate species of people who appeared on the island of Flores at least 700,000 years ago and disappeared about 50,000 years ago, after the arrival of a modern man in Indonesia.

This discovery, as Green points out, led many scientists to wonder whether the genetic traces of hobbits are present in the DNA of the modern inhabitants of the island of Flores, many of which are similar in their anatomy, mass and growth to African pygmies.

Genetic traces of the “hobbits”, unlike Neanderthals and Denisites, are much more difficult to find, since all fragments of their DNA, due to the warm and humid climate of Indonesia, completely disappeared from their remains.

For this reason, scientists had to go “by the method of the contrary”. They deciphered the genomes of three dozen pygmies, whose tribes lived near Liang Bois, and identified typically human, Neanderthal and Denisian fragments within them.

According to the idea of ​​the authors of the article, if the Cro-Magnon people did indeed interbreed with the “hobbits”, then the DNA fragments of the “unknown” origin should be present in the genomes of the pygmies, which do not coincide in structure and sets of mutations with analogous sites in the genomes of the three other representatives of the genus Homo.

They could not find any such block, which means that the “hobbits” did not contact the Cro-Magnon people and left no traces in the DNA of modern people.

Interestingly, the genes of Floresian pygmies associated with their growth are similar in their design to similar areas in DNA in the genomes of modern low-growing Europeans. This suggests that their ancestors became dwarfs on their own, as a result of natural selection and island dwarfism, and not through hypothetical contacts with their neighbors, the “hobbits.”

“The fact that both the pygmies and the hobbits independently became dwarfs, once again shows that, from an evolutionary point of view, a person is no different from other mammals.” We are all subject to the same laws and processes that and the ancestors of dwarf hippos and elephants, “- concludes Serena Tucci (Serena Tucci), a colleague of Green.