Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just a Little Odd

Just some interesting news recently:

A Goliath beetle specimen in a museum had strange round holes, recently recognized as shotgun pellets. The original collector must have caught it on the wing. (News source.)

Interesting article on unconfirmed Knysna (South Africa) elephants here.

More Homo floresiensis news here, and here.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Ebu Gogo Tourist Scam

Some Indonesians are cashing in on the Homo floresiensis interest by offering to take visitors to look at "Ebu Gogo" -- in reality just some really short local people. (News source.)

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another "Hobbit" Paper

A new study argues, through statistical analysis of a female skeleton, that Homo floresiensis is a distinct species. (eurekalert)


Friday, October 02, 2009

Floresiensis May Be Moved

Peter Brown, who originally described Homo floresiensis, is considering moving the species to its own genus, and expecting further controversy. (News source.)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More H. Floresiensis Research

Another article: "Hobbits walked out of Africa"


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Little "Hobbit," Big Feet

New news material on Homo floresiensis after a couple of papers published in Nature. (News here, here, and here.)


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hobbit Display

A cast of skull and bones of Homo floresiensis will be displayed at a public symposium in Long Island, NY. (News source.)


Monday, February 02, 2009

More H. Floresiensis Research

A few details here on some new research being published.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Homo Floresiensis Study

Another study on the skull of H. floresiensis suggests it is not a scaled-down Homo sapiens skull.


Monday, November 10, 2008

NOVA Program on H. Floresiensis

PBS is airing a show on the "hobbit" on November 11. Details.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Hobbit on CBC Documentary

The CBC program The Nature of Things has aired an episode on Homo floresiensis.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Floresiensis Dental Work?

One of the critics of Homo floresiensis suggests that there may be some recent dental work on one of the teeth. Proponents disagree. (News source, and here)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How Floresiensis Walked

Apparently, Homo floresiensis had a funny walk... (News source.)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sure, Now the Controversy's Over

The latest "conclusive" research on Homo floresiensis is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (News source.)

"GW researchers Adam Gordon, Lisa Nevell, and Bernard Wood developed a novel way to compare the shape of the 'Hobbit's' skull with what the shape of modern human skulls would be like in individuals as small as the 'Hobbit.' Using these new methods, they have shown that the 'Hobbit's' skull is shaped nothing like that of a modern human, whether or not size differences are taken into account. Instead, it is similar to our possible ancestors belonging to the species Homo erectus and Homo habilis found in Africa and the Republic of Georgia, which are about 1.7 million years old."


Monday, March 10, 2008

Palau's Pygmies

About a year or so ago, National Geographic Channel set out their schedule of programming for 2007-8, noting that one would be on fossil pygmies found in Palau. Nothing showed up in the literature until now, as reported by Reuters. Obviously, the find is of interest due to the ongoing debate over H. floresiensis.

"The Palau skeletons, which date to between 900 and 2,800 years ago, appear to have belonged to so-called insular dwarfs -- humans who grew smaller as a result of living on an island, the researchers said.
"They said their findings, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, show it is possible the same thing happened on the Indonesian island of Flores, where small skeletons dating back 15,000 to 18,000 years ago have intrigued scientists since they were discovered in 2004." ...

I would assume the NGC program is soon to follow...

The PLoS journal article is here.

Additional: Another recap from the NYT, and a rebuttal from the H. floresiensis proponents.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More Debate with H. floresiensis

A group of Australian scientists have published an article claiming that Homo floriesiensis' morphology is explained by dwarf cretinism, caused by a non-functioning thyroid. (News source.)


Friday, January 04, 2008

H. floresiensis Debate Continues

A new study suggests that Homo floresiensis is not a new species, but is based on individuals with a rare growth disorder, MOPD II, caused by a gene, PCNT. The gene causes the formation of a small brain and small (but proportional) body size, but retains normal intelligence. The condition also causes subtle wrist and hand bone anomalies, similar to those found in the floresiensis bones. (News source.)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Height and Death

Here's a SciAm article discussing the link between pygmies' heights (including that of H. floresiensis) and shorter life expectancies.


Friday, September 21, 2007

H. Floresiensis: The Debate Continues

Research being published today in Science notes "evidence in three wrist bones that these people were members of a distinct species rather than humans with a physical disorder." From the NYT:

"In the new study, scientists led by Matthew W. Tocheri, an anthropologist of human origins at the Smithsonian Institution, examined wrist bones from the skeletons and found them to be primitive and shaped differently than the wrist bones of modern humans. For example, the trapezoid bone connected to the index finger was wedge-shaped, not boot-shaped, as in humans. In fact, the scientists said these wrist bones were closer in shape to those of apes."

One critic says the study is mostly obfuscation, disregarding the variation naturally found in wrist bones.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Homo Floresiensis Book

Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee have published their book on Homo floresiensis:

A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the "Hobbits" of Flores, Indonesia.
ISBN-10: 0060899085
ISBN-13: 978-0060899080

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Homo timoriensis and Homo celebesiensis?

Homo floresiensis, the hobbit of Flores, is still debated as to whether it is a distinct species or not (or even a new GENUS as proposed by Dr. Dwight Smith and Gary Mangiacopra). But soon a new excavation will take place on other localized islands around Flores.

Mike Morwood is predicting new hominid species may be discovered on the islands of Timor and Sulawesi. Going to the level of proposing some may be found to be dwarf like, as on Flores, or gigantic in stature.

Are we perhaps in the near future to open even more debate over new hominid species?

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Monday, January 29, 2007

'Hobbit' was no pygmy, but a separate species

'Hobbit' was no pygmy, but a separate species:

Jan.30 (ANI):

World-renowned paleo-neurologist and chairman of the Florida State University's anthropology department Dean Falk has acknowledged that "Hobbits" are indeed a separate and a new homonid species.

Having carried out further studies on the skeletal remains of an 18,000-year-old Hobbit-sized human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, Falk and her team of researchers are now convinced that the "Hobbit" catalogued as LB1 - Homo Floresiensis - was definitely not a human born as a pygmy or a microcephalic - a human with an abnormally small skull.

Falk and her team of international experts have based their finding on detailed maps of imprints left on the ancient hominid's braincase, and concluded that the so-called Hobbit was actually more closely related to Homo Sapiens.

"We have answered the people who contend that the Hobbit is a microcephalic," Falk said of her team's study of both normal and microcephalic human brains published in the January 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS).

A debate over the remains of the 3-foot-tall adult female with a brain roughly one-third the size of a contemporary human has been going on for the past four years.

People have refused to believe that someone with that small of a brain could make sophisticated tools, but according to Dr. Falk, the LB1 had a highly evolved brain that wasn't very big, but was reorganised to carry out certain actions in tune with activity normally related to homo sapians.

In the latest study, the researchers compared 3-D, computer-generated reconstructions of nine microcephalic modern human brains and 10 normal modern human brains. They found that certain shape features completely separate the two groups and that Hobbit classifies with normal humans rather than microcephalic humans in these features. In other ways, however, Hobbit's brain is unique, which is consistent with its attribution to a new species.

Comparison of two areas in the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe and the back of the brain show the Hobbit brain is nothing like a microcephalic's and is advanced in a way that is different from living humans. In fact, the LB1 brain was the "antithesis" of the microcephalic brain, according to Falk, a finding the researchers hope puts this part of the Hobbit controversy to rest.

In October last year, researchers said that the Hobbit fossil found in Flores, Indonesia did not represent a new species of hominid, but was rather a small bodied modern human who suffered from a genetic condition known as microcephaly, characterized by a small head.

A study published in Nature in 2004 had said that the fossil belonged to a new species of hominid. The claim had divided palaeontologists into two distinct camps, with one camp vociferously arguing that the remains belonged to a new species.

Microcephaly is a term that covers many conditions. There are more than 400 different human genes for which mutations can result in small brain size. Accordingly, there is a correspondingly wide range of different syndromes that are recognized in clinical practice.

In August, a view was circulated that the Indonesian hobbit was actually a deformed Homo Sapien. The belief then was that Homo Erectus reached Flores 840,000 years ago and, living in isolation, evolved into a species distinct from Homo sapiens, named as Homo floresiensis.

They said geographically, Flores had at least two migrations of ancient elephants from nearby islands, and therefore it was highly unlikely that hominids arrived only once and evolved in isolation.

Also, the island was not large enough to have supported isolated hunter-gatherers with a population adequate enough to maintain genetic diversity for long-term survival. A later study by a joint Indonesian, Australian, and US research team showed that the remains belonged to a Homo sapiens and not a distinct species.

In May last year, there was a view that hobbits simply did not exist"It's perfectly plausible that these were pygmy people. But there's only one skull, and that is human and microcephalic," claimed Professor Robert Martin then. (ANI)

The PNAS article is not up at their website at this time, but should be shortly.

It should also be noted that Dr. Dwight Smith and Gary Mangiacopra have authored a new article on the subject of Homo Floresiensis , this article is slated to appear in the forthcoming Bestia Elementum book under the CRYPTO series in April / May 2007. In this entry the authors propose that Homo floresiensis is not only a new species, but a potential new genus.......

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Floresiensis Cave Opened to Research

News from BBC:

"Archaeologists who found the remains of human 'Hobbits' have permission to restart excavations at the cave where the specimens were found.
"Indonesian officials have blocked access to the cave since 2005, following a dispute over the bones.
"But Professor Richard 'Bert' Roberts, a member of the team that found the specimens, told BBC News the political hurdles had now been overcome." ...

"'This year we will back in Liang Bua again, back in the cave where we found the Hobbits,' said Professor Roberts, from the University of Wollongong in Australia." ...
"'It's now a matter of getting everything organised so we can start digging again,' said Professor Roberts.
''You've got to get there in the dry season; in the wet season you can hardly drive to the site and when you are there, there are puddles of water all over the floor - so it's got to be dry to sensibly dig holes.'"

[Full news posted to StrangeArk archive.]