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banquo's_bumble_puppy
2004-Oct-27, 06:00 PM
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/10/27/dwarf.cavewoman.ap/index.html

ToSeek
2004-Oct-27, 06:44 PM
Artist's rendering (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/041027/481/lon80510271455&e=1&ncid=1778)

Humphrey
2004-Oct-27, 06:49 PM
Note: he is holding a mouse.....










j/k :-P

Kullat Nunu
2004-Oct-27, 07:16 PM
Note: he is holding a mouse.....

No, I think it is a some kind of marsupial.

But if this discovery holds up, it's a really major discovery. :o

Humphrey
2004-Oct-27, 07:31 PM
Note: he is holding a mouse.....

No, I think it is a some kind of marsupial.

Hence the "j/k :-P" at the end. :-)





But if this discovery holds up, it's a really major discovery. :o

Not really. Its just a extreamly interesting discovery. A major discovery would be that a modern population is made up of them.

Wally
2004-Oct-27, 07:35 PM
Note: he is holding a mouse.....










j/k :-P

that got a chuckle. =D>

Kullat Nunu
2004-Oct-27, 07:38 PM
But if this discovery holds up, it's a really major discovery. :o

Not really. Its just a extreamly interesting discovery. A major discovery would be that a modern population is made up of them.

Well, completely new human species that lived much later than the last Neanderthals...
I would call that a major discovery. ;)

Candy
2004-Oct-27, 10:30 PM
Note: he is holding a mouse.....










j/k :-P
human dwarf species That would be one big rat! :lol:

Candy
2004-Oct-27, 10:32 PM
Well, completely new human species that lived much later than the last Neanderthals...
I would call that a major discovery. ;)
marooned for eons I agree.

Gullible Jones
2004-Oct-28, 01:43 AM
Very interesting.

Minor nitpick though... "Human species" is incorrect, since humans are a specific species, Homo sapiens. The word meant is probably "homonids". For all practical purposes, though, it doesn't make much of a difference.

Humphrey
2004-Oct-28, 02:01 AM
The lasting till relatively modern times is absolutely amazing. It shows how rezilient some species can be in our line without changing at all. I just do not believe its a life altering event. :-)

They say there is evidence of Homo Erectus there too, so i wonder how they took eachother?

Ari Jokimaki
2004-Oct-28, 06:17 AM
They say there is evidence of Homo Erectus there too, so i wonder how they took eachother?

Considering that other one lived there 900,000 years ago and other one 18,000 years ago, I don't think they saw each other that much.

snowcelt
2004-Oct-28, 07:13 AM
I find this new discovery amazing. I always thought that it was a shame that we historical humans missed out in knowing Neanderthals by no more than twenty-five thousand years. Now we find we have missed a breathern species by thirteen thousand years. I think that the orphan race of moderns has missed something profound. The possibility of having a family member still alive would have given us all something that we will never know.

I grieve for our lost opportunity, just like I grieve for those individuals who are orphans today: bereft of family.

Candy
2004-Oct-28, 01:21 PM
Artist's rendering (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/041027/481/lon80510271455&e=1&ncid=1778) A pair of pants would have been nice to have been discovered, too. 8-[

Ut
2004-Oct-28, 01:26 PM
Artist's rendering (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/041027/481/lon80510271455&e=1&ncid=1778) A pair of pants would have been nice to have been discovered, too. 8-[

You can't go holdin' the lil' guys down, duuuuude. Get your repressing grasp away from me, maaaaaaan. He's free! Free like the wind! And he's not giving in to the evil of Big Pants.

Fram
2004-Oct-28, 03:25 PM
I've read in my Flemish (supposed 'quality') newspaper that some scientists are even suggesting that the little buggers still were around on Flores 150 years ago, and that there may be some left on Sumatra. I can't give you a link, as it's a subscription-only website, and I only use the paper version... Anyone heard anything more of this?

Humphrey
2004-Oct-28, 04:23 PM
They say there is evidence of Homo Erectus there too, so i wonder how they took eachother?

Considering that other one lived there 900,000 years ago and other one 18,000 years ago, I don't think they saw each other that much.

I don't remember but do they say how old they think the species is?

edit. Yup: 95,000-12,000. So nevermind. For some reason i thought they lived together and this one just happened to of not died out. Shows me for skimming the article. :oops: :oops:

Doh! Where can i turn in my Anthro degree, i put it to shame. :-(

MAPNUT
2004-Oct-28, 05:11 PM
some scientists are even suggesting that the little buggers still were around on Flores 150 years ago, and that there may be some left on Sumatra.... Anyone heard anything more of this?

An English author named J.R.R. Tolkien claimed in 1948 that "hobbits" were still alive, though he didn't say where. He said they are shy of the big people and have developed the art of moving quickly and quietly so that they can disappear as if by magic. Many consider him the top authority on the subject, but I think he was a woo-woo - he believed in trolls and dragons too.

Candy
2004-Oct-28, 07:00 PM
I've read in my Flemish (supposed 'quality') newspaper that some scientists are even suggesting that the little buggers still were around on Flores 150 years ago, and that there may be some left on Sumatra. I can't give you a link, as it's a subscription-only website, and I only use the paper version... Anyone heard anything more of this? Perhaps, copy and paste into quotes. 8-[

Tranquility
2004-Oct-28, 07:21 PM
Perhaps, copy and paste into quotes. 8-[

Copyright infringement.

gethen
2004-Oct-28, 07:22 PM
I've read in my Flemish (supposed 'quality') newspaper that some scientists are even suggesting that the little buggers still were around on Flores 150 years ago, and that there may be some left on Sumatra. I can't give you a link, as it's a subscription-only website, and I only use the paper version... Anyone heard anything more of this?
An anthropologist on NPR was saying yesterday that some of the island's current residents say that their grandparents used to tell stories about "little naked men" who lived in caves on the island. Scientists were interested in visiting those caves.

Candy
2004-Oct-28, 07:36 PM
An anthropologist on NPR was saying yesterday that some of the island's current residents say that their grandparents used to tell stories about "little naked men" who lived in caves on the island. Scientists were interested in visiting those caves. I am too, now. 8-[

Candy
2004-Oct-28, 07:37 PM
Perhaps, copy and paste into quotes. 8-[

Copyright infringement. :evil:

Disinfo Agent
2004-Oct-29, 09:20 AM
Leprechauns! :D 8)

Tranquility
2004-Oct-29, 09:56 AM
Perhaps, copy and paste into quotes. 8-[

Copyright infringement. :evil:

Just like my friends :lol:

Fram
2004-Oct-29, 01:43 PM
I've read in my Flemish (supposed 'quality') newspaper that some scientists are even suggesting that the little buggers still were around on Flores 150 years ago, and that there may be some left on Sumatra. I can't give you a link, as it's a subscription-only website, and I only use the paper version... Anyone heard anything more of this? Perhaps, copy and paste into quotes. 8-[
Apart from the copyright infringement, I repeat: 'I only use the paper version'. My Windows (TM) version does not support a Ctrl-C on a paper... But it was referring to English antropologists, like gethen mentioned. Apparently they have done a search in 1995-1997 to spot the 'bushman' of Sumatra, and they have claimed to have spotted them repeatedly. But no pictures, no remains, nothing, so it's best to stay sceptic for the moment.

skeptED56
2004-Oct-29, 09:52 PM
Very interesting.

Minor nitpick though... "Human species" is incorrect, since humans are a specific species, Homo sapiens. The word meant is probably "homonids". For all practical purposes, though, it doesn't make much of a difference.

The term "human" refers to a genus, the human genus. Although it is mostly used in reference to Homo Sapiens.

Dictionary.com link (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=human)

ComputerTech
2004-Oct-30, 02:40 AM
Prehistoric dwarf bones found:
Oct. 27:
Scientists working on a remote Indonesian island have discovered the bones of a new race of hobbit-like dwarves wiped out by a massive volcanic eruption 12-thousand years ago. How do we know these are human bones? I.E. Not alien? If it's not a homosapien, then isnt it alien? Perhaps someone can teach me more about this?

Nowhere Man
2004-Oct-30, 04:05 AM
There are several other threads discussing this discovery. It's not really astronomy related, but...

How do we know these are human bones? I.E. Not alien? If it's not a homosapien, then isnt it alien?
Is a chimpanzee an alien? What about Neanderthal man? Homo Erectus?

If you ask me, and I'm not an anthropologist, but just a guy who follows scientific progress, these short guys just represent a branch of the human family bush that got stuck on an isolated island and adapted to conditions there. Since it was favorable for smaller creatures to survive and make more of themselves, that's what we found.

Fred

Brady Yoon
2004-Oct-30, 05:50 AM
I agree with Nowhere Man. There's no need to use aliens to account for a new discovery.

Bozola
2004-Oct-30, 09:08 AM
An interesting thing about Flores is that there is evidence of H. erectus there 900,000 years ago. I would seriously entertain the idea that was this an isolated population from a single event of crossing Wallace's line.

Evolution in action!

Equally interesting is that they were around almost to contemporary times.

I wonder if Menehune are an independent cultural creation or the product of some dim passed around folklore. We'll probably never know.

Ain't science grand?

Kullat Nunu
2004-Oct-30, 01:39 PM
This is not very astronomy-related topic, albeit extremely interesting...

There are already two discussions about Homo floresiensis at BABBling:
*Possible new human branch discovered? (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=17281)
*Homo floresiensis: "hobbit" humans (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=17294)

crateris
2004-Oct-30, 05:50 PM
Apparently Tolkien was WAY ahead of us on that one! :lol:

I wonder if they had big hairy feet and had a weakness for mushrooms?

C.

Humphrey
2004-Oct-30, 05:54 PM
It's actually surprisingly easy with full unaltered bones to discern from human and non-human. There are very specific "tells" on each bone that say what sied it is on and if its human or not.

Fragmented and fractured bones are harder to tell but its still there. With a trained eye you could do it.

In one forensic class we had to discern fragemnts of bone as human or not human and where on the body it was. You can do it, it just takes alot of training.

If you want to know the techniquest you can pick up a good Anthropology or Forensics tezt. I can reccomend one if you want.

Squink
2004-Oct-30, 06:57 PM
It's not really astronomy related, but...Is this not evidence of one or more ancient supernovae? :wink:

Nowhere Man
2004-Oct-30, 07:34 PM
It's not really astronomy related, but...Is this not evidence of one or more ancient supernovae? :wink:You what? Who needs bones to find out about old supernovae? Look at the skies (with appropriate hardware, of course). :P

Fred

Ut
2004-Oct-30, 07:39 PM
Everyone say it along with me:

Black holes do not suck.
Black holes do not suck.
Black holes do not suck.

There, now doesn't that feel good?


Wow.
This is really funny. I was replying to this thread when I left last night, but never actually typed anything up. Meanwhile, in the other tab, I was replying to the galactic alignment thread. When I woke up this morning, I assumed that I forgot to reply to the other thread, and that this was the posting window. Refresh, type, post, look like a moron.

On the plus side, Halloween parties rock three times over.

ComputerTech
2004-Nov-01, 10:03 PM
I guess I just find it incredible how small the arms were on this thing, and if this was alien, would we ever know? Do we even know what to look for? The assumption is that aliens are something other than "homosapiens" or some variation of that. However, there's no reason to assume anything about their physical characteristics. If aliens look just like us or our "ancestors" maybe we not have found them, not only that but are them. As Steve Squires said, we could be martians.

I guess my point is we found a new species of intelligent life, that is not our own. Isnt that the definition of alien? Just interesting speculation and questions I have more than anything. Sorry about this being the wrong forum. I will try to move it.

Taibak
2004-Nov-01, 11:39 PM
I guess I just find it incredible how small the arms were on this thing, and if this was alien, would we ever know?

Well, look at it like this: what are the odds that evolution would randomly produce a species on another planet that looks almost exactly like primitive human species, only smaller?

Besides, if it IS an alien, where are the artifacts? One of the first rules of archaeology is that people can't go somewhere without leaving some of their trash behind.


Do we even know what to look for? The assumption is that aliens are something other than "homosapiens" or some variation of that. However, there's no reason to assume anything about their physical characteristics. If aliens look just like us or our "ancestors" maybe we not have found them, not only that but are them.

It's possible, but again, the odds are long. I'll grant you that there may be aliens that look similar to humans, modern or otherwise, but an alien species that has *all* the features of the genus? It's possible, but where natural selection is largely random it's far, FAR less likely than this being a species that evolved here on Earth.


As Steve Squires said, we could be martians.

True, but he was talking about panspermia, about microorganisms hitching a ride on a meteorite from Mars, no?


I guess my point is we found a new species of intelligent life, that is not our own. Isnt that the definition of alien?

In an astrobiological context? I would say something would have to come from another planet to be considered an alien. There's no evidence this did.

ComputerTech
2004-Nov-02, 08:44 AM
I guess I just find it incredible how small the arms were on this thing, and if this was alien, would we ever know?

Well, look at it like this: what are the odds that evolution would randomly produce a species on another planet that looks almost exactly like primitive human species, only smaller?

Besides, if it IS an alien, where are the artifacts? One of the first rules of archaeology is that people can't go somewhere without leaving some of their trash behind.


Do we even know what to look for? The assumption is that aliens are something other than "homosapiens" or some variation of that. However, there's no reason to assume anything about their physical characteristics. If aliens look just like us or our "ancestors" maybe we not have found them, not only that but are them.

It's possible, but again, the odds are long. I'll grant you that there may be aliens that look similar to humans, modern or otherwise, but an alien species that has *all* the features of the genus? It's possible, but where natural selection is largely random it's far, FAR less likely than this being a species that evolved here on Earth.


As Steve Squires said, we could be martians.

True, but he was talking about panspermia, about microorganisms hitching a ride on a meteorite from Mars, no?


I guess my point is we found a new species of intelligent life, that is not our own. Isnt that the definition of alien?

In an astrobiological context? I would say something would have to come from another planet to be considered an alien. There's no evidence this did.

Okay thanks!

This is dealing with some complex stuff, not my field. I tend to explore the more incredible aspect of "finds" because of the oppertunity they could represent.

But, point taken, I understand that speculating that something is alien does not MAKE it so. In fact, It's probably not.

John Dlugosz
2004-Nov-02, 08:14 PM
When I read the article, I wondered: how do they know it is human, rather than a chimp or something else more distant? Or, how do they know it is a different species rather than another race (like Pygmies)? Would someone finding the bones of a Dachound and a Greyhound suspect that they are the same species?

--John

Kullat Nunu
2004-Nov-02, 09:06 PM
When I read the article, I wondered: how do they know it is human, rather than a chimp or something else more distant? Or, how do they know it is a different species rather than another race (like Pygmies)? Would someone finding the bones of a Dachound and a Greyhound suspect that they are the same species?

Human "races" differ very little. Actually the whole term is misleading, because differences between members of one race are much larger than between races.

Dissimilarities between humans (modern or extinct) and other animals are easy to detect if you are an expert. Homo floresiensis must have some differences compared to modern humans (it is mentioned to be more arcaic, likely originated from local Homo erectus). For example, the skull's shape is clearly different from Homo sapiens skull. But still it definitely belongs to genus Homo.

Here's a detailed article about Flores man (http://www.nature.com/news/specials/flores/index.html) at Nature's website.

ComputerTech
2004-Nov-02, 10:23 PM
It would be incredible if they could prove that this florense thing could not breath on our planet. Or something that proved it was not from our world. :o

Taibak
2004-Nov-02, 11:28 PM
It would be incredible if they could prove that this florense thing could not breath on our planet. Or something that proved it was not from our world. :o

True, but the breathing thing raises a whole new set of issues. You can't change the laws of physics and chemistry. Unless its body chemistry is totally bizarre, there's no reason to assume it couldn't breathe Earth's air. Soft tissue isn't preserved, so you probably won't find lungs from a homo florensis. You're not likely to find blood either, so that's out.

I don't mean to discourage you and it would be an amazing discovery if we did find an alien, but there's no reason to think that's the case here. It looks like a typical hominid, only shorter. There's no evidence that it's anything other than an early hominid so the most likely explanation is that it's just an extinct species of early human.

Bozola
2004-Nov-02, 11:34 PM
It would be incredible if they could prove that this florense thing could not breath on our planet. Or something that proved it was not from our world. :o

True, but the breathing thing raises a whole new set of issues. You can't change the laws of physics and chemistry. Unless its body chemistry is totally bizarre, there's no reason to assume it couldn't breathe Earth's air. Soft tissue isn't preserved, so you probably won't find lungs from a homo florensis. You're not likely to find blood either, so that's out.

I don't mean to discourage you and it would be an amazing discovery if we did find an alien, but there's no reason to think that's the case here. It looks like a typical hominid, only shorter. There's no evidence that it's anything other than an early hominid so the most likely explanation is that it's just an extinct species of early human.

If they find more "poor" quality bones (extraction is a destructive process), extracting DNA should not be too difficult.

There is no question that this was an a cousin of our. There are more than enough telltales in the teeth to cinch it.

aurora
2004-Nov-03, 06:44 PM
There is no question that this was an a cousin of our. There are more than enough telltales in the teeth to cinch it.

Unless a group of aliens came to Earth in order to hunt pygmy elephants with stone tools. :D

Humphrey
2004-Nov-03, 06:52 PM
There is no question that this was an a cousin of our. There are more than enough telltales in the teeth to cinch it.

Unless a group of aliens came to Earth in order to hunt pygmy elephants with stone tools. :D

Nah more like this: Homo Erectus learned space travel from a traveling meteor piloted by Nancy who then took off into space, but due to haiving to use stone tools to make the crafts they were really small and short. Thus they favored smaller and smaller people in sucessive generations and eventually came out to become the dwarf space travelers that crash landed on the island and were found by the anthropologists.

Madcat
2004-Dec-07, 10:25 PM
...find this new discovery amazing. I always thought that it was a shame that we historical humans missed out in knowing Neanderthals by no more than twenty-five thousand years. Now we find we have missed a breathern species by thirteen thousand years. I think that the orphan race of moderns has missed something profound. The possibility of having a family member still alive would have given us all something that we will never know.

I grieve for our lost opportunity, just like I grieve for those individuals who are orphans today: bereft of family.

Yeah, what a shame. We missed a *REALLY* cool war. :)

Captain Kidd
2005-Mar-04, 12:17 PM
Update, looks like they are (were) a new species of humans.

'Hobbit' Brain Supports Species Theory (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050303/ap_on_sc/hobbit_brain_2)


Scientists working with powerful imaging computers say the spectacular "Hobbit" fossil recently discovered in Indonesia had distinctive brain features that could justify its classification as a separate — and tiny — human ancestor.

archman
2005-Mar-05, 02:45 AM
Don't jump up and down just yet. These things take time. One article from Science Expressdoes not a new mammal species make. There's a lengthy review and critique process that this critter has not yet completed.

ToSeek
2005-Oct-11, 03:37 PM
More Flores 'Hobbits' described (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4331252.stm)


Scientists have discovered more remains of the strange, small people that once lived on Flores island, Indonesia.
...
The researchers say they are now more convinced than ever that Homo floresiensis represents a distinct species and not some diseased individual of modern human (Homo sapiens)as some sceptics have suggested.

"The finds further demonstrate that LB1 is not just an aberrant or pathological individual but is representative of a long-term population," they write in Nature.

publiusr
2005-Oct-12, 05:24 PM
You should see the ones in Brichester that Ramsey Campbell found...

ToSeek
2006-May-18, 09:08 PM
New research suggests 'hobbit' was not a new species (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9190&feedId=online-news_rss20)


The debate over whether the "hobbit” fossil found on an Indonesian island is a separate species has reignited, as a new study of dwarfing in a range of mammals suggests that Homo floresiensis was a modern human with a pathological condition.

TheBlackCat
2006-May-18, 10:12 PM
The fact that the organism may have been in the extreme range of a very rare human condition does not automatically mean it was, in fact, a human with that condition. It doesn't mean it wasn't, but his argument that because the brain size is in line with someone with that condition automatically proved it was someone with that condition is not convincing. Especially considering there was a whole population of this life-form that was all the same size.

And they would have to explain why a measurements from handful of pygmy organisms from completely different branches of the mammilian phylogenic tree, and possibly very different island environemnts, are automatically applicable to Homo erectus on this island as well.

At the core they seem convinced that the tools were too sophisticated for this species. The fact that they may not be able to believe that this species could make such tools does not, in fact, mean they could not make the tools. Just asserting "the brain is too small for that level of sophistication" is not sufficient, they would need to present positive evidence that the tools could not mentally have been developed by an organism with that brain size. They would also have to present evidence that the tool were developed by that organism and not by a population of humans they had contact with. Having a small brain size does not automatically rule out "sophisticated people with a high level of mental development", as many bird species show. We simply know too little about the human brain and how about how this particular organism's brain was structured to rule out that possibility, and we would have to rule out the possibility that the tools did not originate with them at all (either obtained through trade or merely copied).

I am not saying they are wrong, the matter is far from settled and it does seem unlikely that the species could develop such tools (although it doesn't seem to have been ruled out entirely), but I do not find this new research particularly convincing and it doesn't seem to shed any additional light on the matter.

ArgoNavis
2006-May-19, 11:31 AM
The fact that the organism may have been in the extreme range of a very rare human condition does not automatically mean it was, in fact, a human with that condition. It doesn't mean it wasn't....

I think this is an attempt to invoke occam's razor. Paleoanthropology went through a period when every new hominoid fossil discovery became a new species. I think they are more cautious now, prefering to intrepret this within the context of the known lineage of homo.

It would be very exciting if this was a new species, but as always more data is required.

Interestingly, I watched a TV program on the discovery fairly recently which indicated that the current population on Flores does have a pygmy sub race.

TheBlackCat
2006-May-19, 04:31 PM
Well, the lets look at it from an occam's razor perspective:

Diseased humans hypothesis's assumptions:
-The disease could become concentrated in the population so a large number of individuals over a long period of time developed it
-Humans had arrived on the island by that time
-The skeleton does, in fact, match that of a human with that disease (they apparently only looked at gross size measurement)
-Measurements from a few other pygmy species from completely different mammal groups are automatically applicable to Hominids in every possible case.
-The much larger normal-looking human population did not leave any fossils during that time period

Pygmy Homo erectus hypothesis's assumptions
-a population of Homo erectus, in the given environment, could become a pygmy with the given features
-These changes would be sufficient to cause speciation
-Homo erectus could have reached those islands, either by building boats (which there is no evidence for or against) or an unknown land bridge (which there is no evidence for or against)
-A creature with those features could have developed those tools
OR
-Humans were present in the area of the island
-Humans would be willing to trade with or teach tool-making to the pygmy Homo erectus they encountered.

I would say they are pretty balanced in terms of assumptions, if anything the pygmy Homo erectus probably has the fewer assumptions but I am probably missing a few on both sides so I would say they are about even.

publiusr
2006-May-19, 06:32 PM
Or perhaps the disease was an evolutionary stressor that could cause a new and smaller species. On a small island Dwarfs fare better and become the norm over time--with the worst of the disease aspects nulled out with passing generations.

TheBlackCat
2006-May-19, 06:55 PM
Or perhaps the disease was an evolutionary stressor that could cause a new and smaller species. On a small island Dwarfs fare better and become the norm over time--with the worst of the disease aspects nulled out with passing generations.
That is exactly what the other side is arguing, that this is a dwarf species of Homo erectus. What the people who wrote this paper say is that the individual (completely neglecting the other fossils found, apparently) was merely an anomoly, not the norm for that population.

JohnD
2006-Aug-20, 05:26 PM
I cant' back this up with a proper reference, but my Sunday newspaper says that the current edition of the Proc.Nat.Acad.Sci contains an article that contradicts the analysis by Morwood and Soejeno. that the remains at Liang bua are a new specis of human, Homo floresiensis.

The new analysis attributes the remains as being of an ancestor of the human (H.sapiens) pygmies that live in Flores today. The authors, who include Prof.R.Eckardt of Penn.State U., are reported to say that the remains are those of an early human suffering from microcephaly.

I have no subscription the these Proceedings, so can't see the article yet, but it should appear at http://www.pnas.org/ soon.

John

ToSeek
2006-Aug-20, 10:04 PM
That seems to be the main controversy (new species vs. microcephaly). I don't see it being settled any time soon.

Ara Pacis
2006-Aug-21, 11:33 PM
I heard they found another skull with the same size. Some argued that it was statistically improbably to have two microcephalic individuals in the same area. I suppose one argument could be that the type of microcephaly these individuals had was genetic and possibly hereditary (proof of evolution?). Another argument could be that the microcephaly was rare and scattered in time and space but that the normal humans gathered them together in that location (in space, if not time) for some reason.

ToSeek
2006-Aug-22, 04:00 PM
Long blog entry that covers a lot of the issues:

Is this the end for Homo floresiensis? (http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/flores/)


So, is this the end for Homo floresiensis? I'm sure it won't be. But there are some things that I hope will come to an end.


First of all, it is now abundantly clear that some kind of microcephaly can explain the small size and small brain size of the LB1 specimen. Moreover, the specimen exhibits other very obvious signs of developmental pathology. It is a bad specimen on which to base the diagnosis of a new species; its most important features are quite plausibly caused by its manifest pathology.


The argument so far against pathology has been that it cannot explain other unique morphologies, like the lack of a chin, and Tomes' root, and so forth. But this paper shows that none of these other features are necessarily unusual for modern humans, in the local and regional context. So that argument is dead, unless someone can show that there is some unique character to the combination of traits in the specimen. Since most of the features that would differentiate it from Homo erectus -- purportedly due to endemic dwarfism -- are also shared with modern humans, that seems like a problem for the species idea.


So I completely accept the argument that LB1 is pathological. A corollary is that the skeleton cannot be a convincing type specimen for a new species.
But this isn't only about LB1: there are the other small specimens. This paper makes clear that none of the features of the LB6/1 mandible are outside the range of local peoples. This is not a case of two specimens that must share some rare pathology; the paper argues that they are two specimens that share a regionally-common suite of characteristics. They aren't, in other words, unusual.


P.S. Also combined two threads on this issue, one from when the subject first came up, and one in response to the recent paper.

ToSeek
2006-Aug-25, 06:58 PM
No Hobbits In This Shire: Researchers Say Skeletal Remains Are Pygmy Ancestors (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060825103718.htm)


The skeletal remains found in a cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, reported in 2004, do not represent a new species as then claimed, but some of the ancestors of modern human pygmies who live on the island today, according to an international scientific team.

Blob
2006-Aug-30, 02:14 AM
Title: Pygmoid Australomelanesian Homo sapiens skeletal remains from Liang Bua, Flores: Population affinities and pathological abnormalities
Authors: T. Jacob, E. Indriati, R. P. Soejono, K. Hsü , D. W. Frayer, R. B. Eckhardt, A. J. Kuperavage, A. Thorne, and M. Henneberg.

Liang Bua 1 (LB1) exhibits marked craniofacial and postcranial asymmetries and other indicators of abnormal growth and development. Anomalies aside, 140 cranial features place LB1 within modern human ranges of variation, resembling Australomelanesian populations. Mandibular and dental features of LB1 and LB6/1 either show no substantial deviation from modern Homo sapiens or share features (receding chins and rotated premolars) with Rampasasa pygmies now living near Liang Bua Cave. We propose that LB1 is drawn from an earlier pygmy H. sapiens population but individually shows signs of a developmental abnormality, including microcephaly. Additional mandibular and postcranial remains from the site share small body size but not microcephaly.

Read more (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0605563103v1.pdf) (1570K PDF)

Blob
2006-Oct-09, 09:21 AM
When scientists found 18,000-year-old bones of a small, humanlike creature on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, they concluded that the bones represented a new species in the human family tree that they named Homo floresiensis. Their interpretation was widely accepted by the scientific community and heralded by the popular press around the world. Because of its very short stature, H. floresiensis was soon dubbed the “Hobbit.”

Read more (http://www.fieldmuseum.org/museum_info/press/press_hobbit.htm)

Kullat Nunu
2006-Oct-09, 04:17 PM
Their case against a new species is rather convincing...

Too bad, it was so cool, almost too amazing to be real. And now it looks like it wasn't, after all.

I think my sig is appropriate.

ToSeek
2006-Oct-09, 05:02 PM
Taking sides in the battle of the 'hobbit' (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn10246&feedId=online-news_rss20)


Resolving the argument will require new material, says Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London, UK. "We need a second skull to see what the variation is." Only then will we know if the hobbit was one of a kind, or a typical resident of Stone Age Flores.

Kullat Nunu
2006-Oct-09, 05:07 PM
Let's hope they'll find another skull, preferably the hobbit variety.

Lord Jubjub
2007-Jan-30, 02:57 AM
Ha!

The hobbit controversy now flips back to the other side.

From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6311619.stm

Kullat Nunu
2007-Feb-01, 01:09 PM
Finally there will be new excavations at the site... new specimens could settle the issue.

publiusr
2007-Mar-02, 11:04 PM
Good stuff.

01101001
2009-May-07, 09:16 PM
Revived for new news.

Flip. Flop. Flip. Flop.

Sound of a 3-foot member of the hobbit species walking to the beach with his two long and narrow feet.

Or, the sound an interested layperson makes trying to decide what to think.

BBC News: Hobbits 'are a separate species' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8036396.stm)


Since the discovery, researchers have argued vehemently as to the identity of these diminutive people.
Two papers in the journal Nature now support the idea they were an entirely new species of human.
[...]
They found that, in some ways, it is incredibly human. The big toe is aligned with the others and the joints make it possible to extend the toes as the body's full weight falls on the foot, attributes not found in great apes.
But in other respects, it is incredibly primitive. It is far longer than its modern human equivalent, and equipped with a very small big toe, long, curved lateral toes, and a weight-bearing structure that resembles that of a chimpanzee.

===

Keywords: Flores Island, Java, Indonesia, dwarf, Homo floresiensis, H. floresiensis, Hobbit, Homo sapiens, H. sapiens, Homo erectus, H. erectus

mugaliens
2009-May-11, 01:05 AM
Hmmm... Orthotics?

ravens_cry
2009-May-11, 02:37 AM
Well, just to remind people, the first Neanderthal specimens turned out to have pathological abnormalities that were at the time thought to be representative of the species, namely rickets. Just because it is a diseased 'hobbit' does not mean it isn't a new species.