Watch NOVA’s “Alien From Earth,” premiering tomorrow Tuesday, November 11 at 8pm on PBS

You may have gotten a heads up from John Hawks that a new documentary on Homo floresiensis is around the bend. It is actually going to air tomorrow and you should catch it. It is titled “Alien From Earth,” premiering tomorrow Tuesday, November 11 at 8pm. I’ll definately be watching.

You’ll be seeing clips from Mike Morwood, Dean Falk, Matt Tocheri, Bill Jungers, and David Lordkipanidze explaining several lines of inquiry in regards to whether or not H. floresiensis unusual features are the result of disease, or the result from the “island effect” that often causes large creatures to evolve to be small, or a previously unrecognized branch of the human family tree.

Homo floresiensis' foot compared to a modern human's
Homo floresiensis foot compared to a modern human's

Dean Falk will be providing an explanation of her 2007 CAT scan of the H. floresiensis brain and the comparisons she did to microcephalic brains. If you don’t remember, she believes the hobbit represents a healthy, and so far unique, specimen of ancient humanity. But as you may also know, the hobbit’s brain size is really small — around 380 cc and the archaeological assemblage attributed to H. floresiensis is way more advanced than what we’ve seen made by other hominids with similar brain sizes.

Matt Tocheri will be providing an explanation of his 2007 analysis of the wrist bones of the hobbit and comparison to African apes. Tocheri argues that based upon wrist bones, Homo floresiensis is for sure a separate species because the bones are indistinguishable from ancestral African apes or other early hominin-like wrists and resemble nothing like modern humans and Neandertals. Bill Jungers will be arguing that he see similarities of the hobbit’s bones to that of Australopithecus afarensis.

Homo floresiensis mandibles
Homo floresiensis mandibles

And since the estimated brain to body mass ratio of H. floresiensis lies between that of Homo erectus and the great apes, David Lordkipanidze discusses the possibility that H. floresiensis could be an unsuspected of our evolutionary tree.

All in all this seems like it should be an excellent synopsis on the latest research. I believe I’ve covered most of it before but video is pretty much more entertaining than reading a blog. Anyways, you can see a teaser clip and find more information about the show on the dedicated NOVA web page. And for those that can’t see the show, an online version will appear sometime afterward. Also of related interest is another documentary on H. floresiensis, which Afarensis live-blogged about several days ago. It is titled “The Hobbit Enigma,” and is also viewable online. I’m gonna try and watch that as well. Afarensis clarfied in the comment belowe that “The Hobbit Engima” and “Alien From Earth” are the same documentary — so why not watch it in advance?

13 thoughts on “Watch NOVA’s “Alien From Earth,” premiering tomorrow Tuesday, November 11 at 8pm on PBS

  1. Doh! Thanks for clarifying, I didn’t know that…. Well I’ll admit, I didn’t look that much in depth. I’ll edit my paragraph now.

  2. Cranium,dentition,wrist,pelvis,arm-leg ratio, oversize feet etc. all indicate that Hobbit-Hominids are LATTER DAY AUSTRALOPITHECENES and likely ancestors of Erectus – rather than descendants.

  3. Uhh, Petr, current dating tells us that these hobbit hominids are at most 94,000 years old. How can they be, australopithecenes… ancestors of archaic Homo when they are more recent than them?!

  4. With its small brain, small teeth, and australopithecine-like postcranial anatomy, this hominin is clearly more related to Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus rather than to Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.

  5. Hey Kambiz, The FINDS of LATTER DAY AUSTRALOPITHECENES on Flores Island are nearly a hundred thousand years old. American Peoples are significantly older than Colombus and the folks he FOUND! Australopithenes in Africa (and migrating through EurAsia to the Indonesian Archipeligo) are likely more than 2 million years old. The foundation stock of European & African Dryopitheces & later Bonobos, Chimps & Gorillas are Orang-like & Siamang/Gibbon-like ASIAN apes. Petr Jandacek, Los Alamos NM USA

  6. Kambiz, I will use an analogy. While reptiles gave rise to monothremes (egg laying mammals), Marsupials, Placental Mammals, Dinosaurs (including birds) they (the reptiles) remained “REPTILES”. It is likely that Australopithecoids have been living in Eurasia for 2 million years OR MORE Perhaps they evolved from OUTside OF AFRICA Dryopithecines in Eurasia. African Australopithecenes too may be the descendants of Eurasian Dryopithecenes. Just because chimps, bonobos & Gorillas SURVIVE in Africa does not guarantee Out of Africa Homo. Like reptiles sharing the space with birds and mammals, Asian LATER DAY AUSTRALOPITHECENES SHARED Indonesia with more advanced descendants till12,000 years ago. Please see or just Google petr jandacek

  7. To Kambiz et al, There is a danger of accepting the date of 94,000 years ago as the date of the arrival of the First LATTER DAY AUSTRALOPITHECUS on the Island of Flores. There is a similar danger of accepting the date of 12,000 years ago as the time of extinction of Homo floresiensis. Pockets of such tiny hominins may have survived on islands of the archipeligo, and it is even more likely that they had lived in Indonesia for much longer & earlier than Erectus or Sapiens. Thus, they may be the foundation stock of larger brained hominins in Eurasia. For a free booklet about the LATTER DAY AUSTRALOPITHECUS write to Petr Jandacek 127 La Senda Rd. Los Alamos, NM USA 87544

  8. I am an intersted lay person. The fact that the planet was shared at the same time by Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals and “Hobbits” is amazing.

    Does anybody know if digs are planned at other promising caves or rock shelters on Flores and other nearby Islands? It would be really interesting to discover when and for how long did humans and “hobbits” overlap on Flores and if there was any interaction.

  9. John et al, I have had the good fortune to had been in communication with Michael Morwood. Yes! they are starting to look for the “Latter Day Australopithecenes” (as I call them) all over the islands of S E Asia. Read Morwood’s book!

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