Age and context of the oldest known hominin fossils from Flores

Brumm, Adam and Van Den Bergh, Gerrit D. and Storey, Michael and Kurniawan, Iwan and Alloway, Brent V. and Setiawan, Ruly and Setiyabudi, Erick and Grün, Rainer and Moore, Mark W. and Yurnaldi, Dida and Puspaningrum, Mika R. and Wibowo, Unggul P. and Insani, Halmi and Sutisna, Indra and Westgate, John A. and Pearce, Nick J.G. and Duval, Mathieu and Meijer, Hanneke J.M. and Aziz, Fachroel and Sutikna, Thomas and Van Der Kaars, Sander and Flude, Stephanie and Morwood, Michael J. (2016) Age and context of the oldest known hominin fossils from Flores. Nature, 534 (7606). pp. 249-253. ISSN 0028-0836 (

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Recent excavations at the early Middle Pleistocene site of Mata Menge in the So'a Basin of central Flores, Indonesia, have yielded hominin fossils attributed to a population ancestral to Late Pleistocene Homo floresiensis. Here we describe the age and context of the Mata Menge hominin specimens and associated archaeological findings. The fluvial sandstone layer from which the in situ fossils were excavated in 2014 was deposited in a small valley stream around 700 thousand years ago, as indicated by 40Ar/39 Ar and fission track dates on stratigraphically bracketing volcanic ash and pyroclastic density current deposits, in combination with coupled uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating of fossil teeth. Palaeoenvironmental data indicate a relatively dry climate in the So'a Basin during the early Middle Pleistocene, while various lines of evidence suggest the hominins inhabited a savannah-like open grassland habitat with a wetland component. The hominin fossils occur alongside the remains of an insular fauna and a simple stone technology that is markedly similar to that associated with Late Pleistocene H. floresiensis.