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Ten year anniversary reflections published on Homo Floresiensis

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  • Ten year anniversary reflections published on Homo Floresiensis

    Published online in Nature News today, by palaeontologist Chris Stringer.

    The Stranger from Flores, by Chris Stringer, in Nature News, 27 October 2004, doi:10.1038/news041025-3.

    Nothing particularly new here. Not sure why it got published as "news" today. There's no new discovery, but a short comment by a well known paleontologist, reflecting on the ten year anniversary of the discovery.

    Source: The Stranger from Flores

    When a new fossil is found it is often claimed that it will rewrite the anthropological textbooks. But in the case of an astonishing new discovery from Indonesia, this claim is fully justified.

    © Copyright Original Source



    There's a longer article by Helen Thompson, in The Smithsonian, which quotes Stringer, but I cannot actually find the quote in the Nature piece. Given that the publication date on the Nature News piece is still several days into the future, I'm wondering if there's a longer "comment" piece coming in Nature; if so I'll link it when I find it. From Helen Thompson's article:

    Ten Years On, the Flores “Hobbit” Remains an Evolutionary Puzzle, by Helen Thompson, in "The Smithsonian", Oct 22 2014.

    Source: Helen Thompson


    Could its origins be even older?

    That would certainly make things interesting. Given the similarities in anatomy to both Lucy and Homo habilis, it’s possible that the Hobbit had an older ancestor. If that were the case, we’d need to rethink the spread of ancient humans out of Africa. “It would mean that a whole branch of a human evolutionary tree in Asia had been missing until those fateful discoveries in Liang Bua,” writes Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, in a comment paper published in Nature today. However, an Australopithecus species like Lucy probably couldn’t have made the trek from Africa across Asia to Indonesia—it isn’t until the rise of Homo erectus that we see legs strong enough for walking long distances.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Relating to some previous discussions here, these articles confirm that the notion of "Downs syndrome" or some other pathology in an essentiual modern human is not consistent with available evidence.
    Source: Helen Thompson


    Why is the Hobbit so weird?

    At first, archaeologists suspected they were looking at the bones of a modern human child. But closer analysis changed their tune. Older hominins, such as the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis, known from the famous “Lucy” fossil, have reinforced jaws, flared hipbones and short legs. Those same features show up in H. floresiensis. The Hobbit’s small skull indicates that the species had a brain the size of an orange, resembling another ancient species Homo habilis, which lived 2.4 to 1.4 million years ago. The Hobbit also possesses the furrowed brow ridges, thick skull and brain structure of Homo erectus, which appeared nearly 2 million years ago. As the researchers delved deeper, it became clear that H. floresiensis had a curious mix of modern and primitive traits. “It’s kind of like all of a sudden there was this laboratory of human evolution that had been occurring on planet Earth that we didn’t even know about,” says Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist who directs the National Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins program.

    Are we sure the Hobbit isn’t just a really short modern human?

    Given the young age of the skeleton, some experts have suggested that H. floresiensis represents a modern human with dwarfism, Down syndrome or other pathologies that might explain the small stature and brain. But no modern human pathology can explain all of the Hobbit’s features. Notably, the wrist bones of H. floresiensis don’t contain certain hallmark features of the foot, face and wrist bones of modern humans, such as a boot-shaped trapezoid bone in our wrists. That hasn’t stopped scientists from arguing about whether H. floresiensis truly constitutes a unique species.

    © Copyright Original Source


  • #2
    I'm curious if they'll say anything about Robert Eckhardt's "recent" claim that Homo Floresiensis is merely someone who suffered from Down Syndrome

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
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    • #3
      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
      I'm curious if they'll say anything about Robert Eckhardt's "recent" claim that Homo Floresiensis is merely someone who suffered from Down Syndrome
      It's there in the last bit of what I quoted from the Smithsonian. Eckhardt is not identified by name; it speaks simply of "some experts". Down's syndrome is listed along with dwarfism, and the claim is pretty much dismissed out of hand with "no modern human pathology can explain all of the Hobbit’s features". The focus is on the claims, and the evidence, rather than the individuals making them, which is good IMO. Basically, the hypothesis of human pathologies (Down syndrome, dwarfism, microcephaly, etc) is still being argued by a very small minority of scientists, and it has major problems with the physical evidence for non-human features of the remains.

      Cheers -- sylas

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