H. floresiensis

From: Glenn Morton <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Thu Oct 13 2005 - 10:12:26 EDT

Yesterday there was an announcement of additional discoveries of H.
floresiensis in Indonesia. H. floresiensis is the controversial discovery of
a year ago of hominids with brain sizes about that of a chimpanzee but yet
who seem to have had a human-like technology. They had fire, made stone
tools, and hunted pygmy elephants. The authors of the study believe that
they could speak. The authors point out that H. floresiensis has traits
which could only have come from H. erectus. No modern human as the set of
traits seen in this creature. And this has fired the controversy.

As mentioned above this find has been controversial with the leading
Indonesian anthropologist claiming that these tiny people are not
descendants of Homo erectus and are merely microencephalic. But the new
discovery, which found an H. floresiensis from several thousand years later
than the first ones, shows that this was a persistent species. One report
says of their activities:

"The finds thus prove that the first Hobbit "is not just an aberrant or
pathological individual, but is representative of a long-term population
that was present during the interval (of) 95-74,000 to 12,000 years ago,"
the Australian-Indonesian team say.
But that's not all. Gently extracted from Liang Bua's floor were the remains
of a dwarf elephant called a Stegodon, whose bones, marked by flints, showed
that the hobbits were good at butchering animals.
There were also scarred bones and clusters of reddened, flame-cracked rocks,
proof that the community was skillful at manipulating fire.
accessed 10-13-05
Another report says:
"The combination of skeletal attributes that [the hobbits] share is not
found in any modern human," says team member Peter Brown. "The bones of the
hands and feet don't look like those of arboreal apes, but like everything
else to do with Homo floresiensis, they are not like humans either."
Martin remains unconvinced by the new finds. The "smoking gun", he says,
would be the discovery of another skull identical in size to LB1's, but
significantly older or younger in archaeological terms, so it could not be a
contemporaneous sibling.
The researchers counter that an additional jawbone found at the site is
virtually identical in size to LB1's, but is 3000 years younger.
accessed 10-13-05
But, the Indonesian archaeological establishment apparently has decided that
they will win the argument about whether or not this is a new species by
governmental refusal to renew the digging permit of the Australians.
Apparently if they can't win the argument on its merits, they will win it by
government fiat.
A year ago, after the first discovery of H. floresiensis, I submitted a News
and Views article to PSCF. About 2 weeks ago I was informed that it would
be accepted but I am awaiting the reviewers comments. Whenever this article
is published, I would recommend it. This discovery has some incredible
implications for what makes us human. It hints at the unity of the Human
race back at least to the time when H. floresiensis's ancestors arrived on
Flores. That is 900,000 years ago when only H. erectus lived on earth.
Received on Thu Oct 13 10:15:46 2005

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