Friday, April 18, 2008

A tale of a hobbit's tooth?

From Australian professor of anthropology Maciej Henneberg comes the most bizarre claim in all the bizarre history of the "hobbit," aka Flores man: that a tooth believed to be 18,000 years old shows evidence of having had a cavity filled, and therefore must be much younger. The claim brought a response from Flores co-discoverer Peter Brown that The Australian describes as, in part, "unprintable." Henneberg is part of a collection of scientists terming themselves the Pathology Group, which has advanced the notion the Flores fossils are from one or more pathological modern humans. He describes some of the attacks by the "pro-species" side as "scratches on a toilet wall." The Flores case provides a window into just how vigorous (and sometimes ungentlemanly) scientifc debate can be. (See the April 2, 2008 item, below, on women in science: this battle is an example of the idea discussed there.)

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