They say the female "hobbit" was too short to be a modern human but, at 3'6' tall, there are Australian blacks alive today of that height. These "experts" are just ignorant of basic physical anthropology -- which is what they are talking about! They obviously know nothing of Australia's pygmy race. I come from the area where they survived and have had them walk right past me in the street. And Australia is quite close to Indonesia
Researchers have added new weight to theories that a prehistoric "hobbit" found by Australian and Indonesian scientists in Indonesia is an unknown human species. Bones belonging to a mini-human and believed to be about 18,000 years old were unearthed on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004, sparking theories about our ancient relatives. Since then, scientists have debated whether Homo floresiensis was a descendant of a known human species suffering from some sort of genetic disease which caused them to be so small, or whether they belonged to a new species.
A new study of the bones of a female "hobbit" (several skeletons were ultimately unearthed at the site) by American scientists William Jungers and Karen Baab has given fresh impetus to the theory that floresiensis is a genuine ancient human species and not a descendant of healthy humans dwarfed by disease.
Their study, published in the December issue of Britain's Royal Statistical Society magazine Significance, was based on a detailed examination of the individual's skull and other bones which led them to estimate her weight and height. Their analysis suggests it was unlikely she was a relative of Homo Erectus or other known human species and was instead "probably derived instead from an even more primitive hominin species".
They found her brain was "remarkably small" compared to living humans, including modern pygmies, and more similar to those of chimpanzees and ancient hominins like the bipedal "ape men" of Africa. While some scientists have argued the hobbit's head was unusually small because she suffered from a disease, Dr Jungers and Dr Baab found no resemblance between her brain shape and that of modern humans with abnormally small heads.
They suggested the hobbit was not a dwarfed descendant of Homo Erectus but a different species "with already-small bodies and smaller brains when they arrived on Flores".
Dr Jungers and Dr Baab also reconstructed the hobbit's body shape and size and found it to be unlike any modern human because of its shorter thigh and shin bones. They estimated she was much smaller and stockier in shape to modern humans, even when compared to the smallest living people. [Rubbish!]
She was just 106cm tall and weighed 30-35kg, suggesting a "very non-human body shape for our hobbit, in the sense that a relatively large mass is being distributed over a relatively small skeletal frame". "This is not a pygmy human," Dr Jungers, who works closely with the Australian scientists who discovered the skeletons, said.
The Australian Research Council is providing funding for a five-year project so Dr Jungers and Australian scientists can continue their work on trying to establish the hobbit's status.
Dr Jungers said the team would return to Indonesia to examine sites near to where the skeletons were found and where tools dating back one millions years have been unearthed. "We will focus on finding skeletons that go with the tools," he said. "If we dig up bones of H Erectus, the diseased dwarf theory will gain credibility. "But if there are bones like Lucy's (Australopithecus afarensis, a 3.2 million-year-old set of fossils found in 1974) or H Habilis, our hypothesis that this is a more primitive human than H Erectus will gain more support."
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