Saturday, September 04, 2010

The "Hobbit" debate will not rest

A few months ago, it seemed like the debate over Homo floresiensis, the "hobbit" species represented by fossils from the Indonesian island of Flores, was over. Professors Robert Eckhardt of Penn State and Maciej Henneberg of the University of Adelaide, have reopened this scientific can of worms by arguing the only skull from Flores - from an individual known as LB1 - is an anomalous modern human skull. This has been postulated before, but these authors are relying on a new line of argument. They say the skull's asymmetry (measurements on one side of the skull show over 6% difference from the other, where 1% is considered normal) points to an abnormal skull whose oddities might also have included the unusually tiny braincase.
COMMENT: For what my opinion is worth (probably nothing) I still come down on the side of a separate species. It now appears this business won't end for good until other skulls similar to LB1 are discovered. It's a fascinating look, though, at a high-stakes scientific debate. Eckert flatly accuses his opponents of being "unscientific" - of being carried away by the excitement of a new species of human.

No comments: