Day By Day

Friday, December 09, 2005

Flores Hobbit Update

From Discover magazine [via John Hawks]
Flores Man Denied Status As New Species
Poor Flores Man just can't rest in peace. All year a controversy has raged about whether the bones found in 2003 on the remote Indonesian island of Flores represent a new species. Australian paleoanthropologist Peter Brown insists the skeleton is a new type of human who should be called Homo floresiensis. Others say he's [sic] simply a pygmy, five feet tall, who had microcephaly, a condition that results in a small, oddly shaped skull.
That's why Robert Eckhardt, a paleoanthropologist at Pennsylvania State University, and a team have intently analyzed the 18,000-year-old bones. The group's research papers, undergoing peer review, are unequivocal. "Homo floresiensis," says Eckhardt, "is not a valid new human species."
Brown is dismissive. "Robert Eckhardt is thick as a plank," he says....
I've met Eckhardt, he's definitely not thick -- maybe a bit plankish, but not thick. I love the playground level of modern scientific discourse.

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