Diniz-Filho&Raia_PRS_B_2017-0594-R2-Appendix.docx from Island Rule, quantitative genetics and brain–body size evolution in <i>Homo floresiensis</i>

Colonization of islands often activate a complex chain of adaptive events that, over a relatively short evolutionary time, may drive strong shifts in body size, a pattern known as the Island Rule. It is arguably difficult to perform a direct analysis of the natural selection forces behind such change in body size. Here, we used quantitative evolutionary genetic models, coupled with simulations and pattern-oriented modelling, to analyse the evolution of brain and body size in <i>Homo floresiensis</i>, a diminutive hominin species that appeared around 700 kya and survived up to relatively recent times (60–90 kya) on Flores Island, Indonesia. The hypothesis of neutral evolution was rejected in 97% of the simulations, and estimated selection gradients are within the range found in living natural populations. We showed that insularity may have triggered slightly different evolutionary trajectories for body and brain size, which means explaining the exceedingly small cranial volume of <i>H. floresiensis</i> requires additional selective forces acting on brain size alone. Our analyses also support previous conclusions that <i>H. floresiensis</i> may be most likely derived from an early Indonesian <i>H. erectus</i>, which is coherent with currently accepted biogeographical scenario for <i>Homo</i> expansion out of Africa.