Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yet more on the hobbits

A new discovery has confused the case of Flores Island "hobbits" even more, something I would not have thought possible. In the periodic "Hobbit Watch" column from Scientific American, Kate Wong discusses new findings from the Pacific island of Palau. South African paleoanthropologist Lee Berger has published his findings on small human bones, some 1,400 to 2,900 years old. These are definitely from the modern species Homo sapiens, but the size and some other characteristics are reminiscent of the Flores people. Berger suggests "...that Flores LB1 may represent a congenitally abnormal individual drawn from a small-bodied population of H. sapiens." Maybe. And maybe not. Berger doesn't claim to have a definitive solution, just a new hypothesis. And so the tramping of hobbit feet through the corridors of science, as confusing in their way as the mines of Moria, goes on for now.

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