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Desert Diary



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We belong to the species Homo sapiens. Highly sophisticated hunters of our species, known as the Clovis Culture, entered the Chihuahuan Desert region some 12,000 years ago; at about the same time, a different species of humans was dying out. Homo floresiensis, on Flores Island in far off Indonesia, disappears from the archaeological record after perhaps several hundred thousands of years.

Although rejected by some anthropologists as pathological modern humans, evidence increasingly points to a late survival of a different species of mankind. These were miniature people, nicknamed hobbits, only a little over 3 feet tall and with a skull little bigger than a grapefruit, yet apparently capable of making tools and hunting a pygmy species of elephant. Miniaturization is a common pattern for medium and large mammals on isolated islands, seen on Flores for both humans and elephants, but also widely known elsewhere. Occurrences of more than one species of human living contemporaneously, emphasizes once more that the human evolutionary line, like those of other groups, was more like a bush than a single, branchless sapling.

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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.