Sunday, January 25, 2009


I knew it wouldn’t be too long until another ‘Hobbit’ story broke into the news. So, what’s new?

‘…a researcher in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook
University, and colleagues conclude that the fossil, found in Indonesia in 2003
and known as the “Hobbit,” is not human…’

Right now, some people are yelling “WE TOLD YOU SO!” while others are…well, lets just say yelling a string of obscenities whilst upturning a dining table or throwing their laptops at a non suspecting postman. Why there would be a postman wandering within laptop throwing range at 8pm I do not know. Maybe he’s not really a postman at all!


Homo floresiensis, the Hobbit, was found on the island of Flores, Indonesia 2003. Initial investigations suggested that the minute stature, odd and somewhat archaic anatomical features was evidence of a new species. I was going to list the theories behind the affinity of the hobbit remains, but I’d be here all night, so I’ll list the popular ones:

  • Modern species of Homo

  • Modern species of Homo suffering from a condition known as Microcephaly

  • Species that was a result of interbreeding between other hominin species

  • Archaic Homo migrated from Africa into Asia

  • Entirely new species of Homo with archaic features

3D analysis of the skull shows scaling consistent with island dwarfism, but not for an ancestor of modern humans. The research states that the shape of the neurocranium is most similar to archaic African Hominins. Thus supporting the new species hypothesis. If you don’t already have a subscription for the Journal of Human Evolution or even access to the online archive (shame on you!) then you can find more information right about….here!

I should also add that the response to my blog entry "whispers" has been overwhelming! Archaeological evidence from Flores is still being worked, so keep your ears to the ground but be prepared for a bit of a wait. I imagine that Peter Brown and his colleagues are trying to silence a few, if not all of the opposing theories, so an official publication may not be released for quite some time. In the meantime, I suggest investing in a t-shirt that says either “NEW SPECIES” or “DISEASED SPECIES” so we can keep track of which side everybody is on. Although….we may have a few problems, the “DISEASED SPECIES” t-shirt could be misinterpreted and negatively impact the possibility for those people to find a potential life mate.


  1. I think the Newswise article describing H. fl as not being human goes too far, suggesting that only we moderns deserve such an accolade.

    I submitted your post (albeit somewhat late)for the forthcoming Anthro blog carnival 'Four Stone Hearth', due to be published at 'A Very Remote Period Indeed' on Jan 28th.

  2. I think that is one of the biggest issues in evolutionary studies - what it is to be described as human. There is a set list of values that make us 'human', but not all can be seen in the archaeological record, so how can one disqualify another individual on that basis? Does that make any sense? Am I just being a bit too pedantic about the whole shebang? I can barely follow my own thoughts most of the time.

    I can't tell you how flattered I am that you would submit my little blog. Thank you very much!
    I'm all very new to this whole blogging thing so I'm surprised anyone actually reads it to be honest.
    Again, thank you :)

  3. I thought you might like to acquaint yourself with Four Stone Hearth if you hadn't already known about it - if you ever feel like hosting one, there are always vacancies for future hosts, just check the 4SH site.

    Re: defining humans, I tend to think of humanity as having existed at least as far back as the Lower Palaeolithic, especially after reading the Babel's Dawn recent post about the proportions of hand axes (also on this week's 4SH).


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