Prior to this study, the oldest indicators of a hominin presence on the Wallacea were stone tools unearthed on the island of Flores in 2010, dated to 1 million years ago. A handful of actual fossils found in 2003 showed that a small-brained, 3.5-foot-tall (1.06 meters) species of early human species called Homo floresiensis, nicknamed ‘the Hobbit’, inhabited the island between 190,000 and 50,000 years ago.
Hominin establishment on Luzon, specifically, had been traced back to 67,000 years ago, following the discovery of a toe bone from a petite-bodied hominin – possibly H. floresiensis – in 2010. Dr Gerrit "Gert" van den Bergh speculates that a yet-to-be-discovered ancestral group created the Luzon tools described in this study and those found on Flores.
"Our hypothesis is that the 'Hobbit' ancestors came from the north, rather than traveling eastward through Java and Bali," he said in a statement.
He further explains that tsunamis, a common occurrence in the tectonically active region, could have swept large numbers of humans and animals living in coastal regions to the north, distributing them on islands to the south.
"If animals did reach these islands by chance, by entering the sea and following the currents south, then you would expect the further south you go the fewer species you would find – and that's what we see."
Homo sapiens, the modern human species, is believed to have evolved and migrated out of Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, reaching the Philippines about 50,000 years ago.