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Jakarta, Indonesia

Meijer H.J.M.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia Miqual Crusafont | Meijer H.J.M.,Smithsonian Institution | Kurniawan I.,Geology Museum | Setiabudi E.,Geology Museum | And 5 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

The So'a Basin in central Flores contains the earliest known evidence for hominins on this remote Indonesian island, with stone tools from this region dating back at least 1.0 Ma. At least 16 late Early to early Middle Pleistocene terrestrial fossil localities record evidence for highly insular endemic faunas and proxy evidence for hominins. The hominin presence in the So'a Basin raises many questions as to how, when, and from where hominins arrived on the island, and key issues regarding their adaptation to this insular environment remain poorly understood. Here, we provide palaeoenvironmental data based on avian remains recovered during recent, systematic excavations of late Early to early Middle Pleistocene deposits at Mata Menge and Bo'a Leza in the So'a Basin. At least six species of birds in five avian orders were recovered, forming the oldest bird remains recovered from Wallacea. Two species, a swan (Cygnus sp.) and an eagle owl (Bubo sp.), no longer occur on Flores. The avian assemblage from Mata Menge and Bo'a Leza described here is indicative of an open environment with a strong open, freshwater component and nearby grasslands, and with forests at a distance. In that, it differs from the Late Pleistocene limestone cave site of Liang Bua, the find locality of Homo floresiensis, and is more similar to the Early Pleistocene Homo erectus sites of the Sangiran Dome on Java. Although little is known regarding the identity of the So'a Basin toolmakers, the presence of an open, savannah-type environment in the late Early to early Middle Pleistocene of Flores may have facilitated their dispersal from the Asian shelf into Wallacea. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source

Meijer H.J.,Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis | Due R.A.,National Center for Archaeology
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

Fossils of the genus Leptoptilos from the Pleistocene of Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia, belong to a new species of giant marabou stork, Leptoptilos robustus sp. nov. This giant bird, estimated at 1.80 m in length, was similar in dimensions to extant Leptoptilos dubius, except for the tibiotarsus. The thick cortical bone wall of the tibiotarsus and the estimated weight of 16 kg imply a reduced flight capability. Osteological and biometric characters suggest that L. robustus is most closely related to L. dubius. An evolutionary lineage is proposed in which a volant L. dubius-like ancestor in the Middle Pleistocene evolved into the Late Pleistocene L. robustus on Flores, with a concomitant reduction of the ability to fly and an increase in body size. The large body size and terrestrial lifestyle of L. robustus are responses to an unbalanced, insular environment with abundant prey items and a lack of mammalian carnivores, and emphasize the extraordinary nature of the Homo floresiensis fauna. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London. Source

Meijer H.J.M.,Smithsonian Institution | Meijer H.J.M.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia Miqual Crusafont | Tocheri M.W.,Smithsonian Institution | Tocheri M.W.,Lakehead University | And 5 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

The Indonesian islands have long been recognized for their rich and unique avifaunas, but little is known regarding how past processes and events have shaped current avian distributions. Here we compare the modern non-passerine avifauna of Flores with the Late Pleistocene non-passerine fossil assemblage from the cave site of Liang Bua to assess whether the Late Pleistocene assemblage differs from the modern avifauna. Randomized permutation tests failed to detect a statistically significant difference in body size distributions, but a significant difference in dietary guild was found, as the modern fauna lacks scavengers. The emerging pattern of avian extinctions on Flores is characterized by a low proportion of extinct species, a loss of large-bodied species, and apparently minor effects on avian community structure. This is in contrast to other oceanic islands, which experienced dramatic changes in avifauna after the arrival of modern humans. Flores' close proximity to other islands and landmasses likely allowed for population connectivity that buffered populations from extinction. Widespread species may also have been able to recolonize if local extirpations took place. The extinction of the large-bodied avian scavengers Leptoptilos robustus and Trigonoceps sp. on Flores is consistent with the pattern of human-caused extinctions on other oceanic islands. However, the loss of these two large scavenging species may be linked to the extinction of the pygmy proboscidean (. Stegodon florensis insularis). Such a dependence of avian species on mammalian megafauna, leading to extinction by trophic cascade, is characteristic of continental Late Pleistocene extinctions. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.. Source

Locatelli E.,University of Ferrara | Locatelli E.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Due R.A.,National Center for Archaeology | van den Hoek Ostende L.W.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

The Liang Bua Cave (Flores, Indonesia) has yielded numerous fossils of murids from the Late Pleistocene and Holocene, including giant rats. In this study, we describe the middle-sized forms, that is, murids of about the same size as Rattus rattus. Two endemic species were found at Liang Bua, Komodomys rintjanus and Paulamys naso, which were present since the oldest phases of the occupation of the cave. Both have survived until the present day and currently occupy contrasting habitats. Two commensal species, presumably R. rattus and R. argentiventer, reached the island only in the youngest phases. Based on the ecological preferences of recent Komodomys and Paulamys, it appears that the arrival of Neolithic Man and commensal rats coincides with a period of relative drought. © 2015, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

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