Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Flores Hobbit Update -- The Debate Heats Up
Last week John Nobel Wilford presented a good brief overview of the disputes and evidence swirling around the discovery of "hobbit" fossils on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Basically anthropologists and pathologists have advanced three interpretations of the evidence: 1) diseased/deformed modern humans – 2) dwarf homo erectus – 3) australopithecines. There is also a debate as to whether artifacts found in association with the fossils were produced by the “hobbits” or by modern humans who shared the island with them. As with everything money, reputations, and national pride complicate the debate. Read Wilford's article here.
Over at Corante, Carl Zimmer's Loom has a couple of excellent posts on the subject. Here's his first reaction to the finding of new bones. And here's his followup post on the subject. It surveys evidence that shows that the "hobbit" brain looks an awfully lot like a human one.
John Hawks has a more technical take on the same subject. Check him out here.