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Researchers Say Hobbit Was Human

Here at s8int.com, as we expressed in our initial posting on this topic, we had no doubt that these bones were not those of some separate species of modern human being. As these short articles indicate, more and more scientists are coming to the same conclusion.

And what of the artist's conception drawing that we complained about at the start? The drawing of "Floresiensis" was meant to convey to the layman how "prehistoric", how primitive "Floresiensis" was --from the evidence of a few bones.

If it turns out that even science comes to believe that these were in fact completely modern human beings, will the sterotypical cave man drawing disappear--or will science continue to try to bolster evolutionary propaganda by proffering misleading artist's conceptions? Probably. Just as we continue to see misleading conceptions of "Neanderthal" and "Cro-Magnon".

Article 1: Researchers Say Hobbit was Human

JAKARTA, Sept. 23 (UPI) --

A 3-foot-tall female skeleton discovered in Indonesia last year dubbed "The Hobbit" and believed to be separate human species may have been a diseased human.

Floresiensis, left and microcephaly sufferer
On the left, artist conception of an alleged new species dubbed "Floresiensis". On the right, a young sufferer of microcephaly. Some scientists are beginning to believe that the discovery is simply that of a modern woman, perhaps a "Pygmy" sufffering from malformations caused by microcephaly.

The Hobbit's discoverers -- Australian anthropologists Peter Brown, Mike Morwood and Bert Roberts -- are adamant their Hobbit is an entirely separate human species, evolving in isolation on a remote island home of Flores, reported the BBC.

What is Microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing. Microcephaly can be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life.

It is most often caused by genetic abnormalities that interfere with the growth of the cerebral cortex during the early months of fetal development.

It is associated with Down’s syndrome, chromosomal syndromes, and neurometabolic syndromes. Babies may also be born with microcephaly if, during pregnancy, their mother abused drugs or alcohol, became infected with a cytomegalovirus, rubella (German measles), or varicella (chicken pox) virus, was exposed to certain toxic chemicals, or had untreated phenylketonuria (PKU).

Babies born with microcephaly will have a smaller than normal head that will fail to grow as they progress through infancy. Depending on the severity of the accompanying syndrome, children with microcephaly may have mental retardation, delayed motor functions and speech, facial distortions, dwarfism or short stature, hyperactivity, seizures, difficulties with coordination and balance, and other brain or neurological abnormalities.

Some children with microcephaly will have normal intelligence and a head that will grow bigger, but they will track below the normal growth curves for head circumference.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

They say the Hobbit was a descendent of some other ancient species and cut off from the rest of the world, and that the species evolved small in stature, much like the pygmy elephants.

The bones were discovered at a dig at Liang Bua, a limestone cave deep in the Flores jungle. Analysis of the 18,000-year-old remains showed the Hobbit had reached adulthood, according to Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob, who declared the bones to be those of a modern human.

Jacob and other researchers say the condition the female suffered from was microcephaly, characterized by a small brain, but it can also be associated with dwarfism, as well as abnormalities of the face and jaw.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Article 2: Hobbit Backlash Building

Source:John Hawks Weblog

The BBC ran a show tonight (Thursday Sept. 22) on the Liang Bua discoveries from Flores; meanwhile BBC News is reporting a few more details about the pathology claims:

Jacob was soon joined by a handful of researchers in the belief that the discovery team had happened upon nothing more than a member of our own species with a rare disease.

Professor Bob Martin, one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team's original interpretation, says the Hobbit's brain is "worryingly" small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.

... Ann MacLarnon of Roehampton University, UK, has discovered the skull of a microcephalic in the vaults of London's Royal College of Surgeons with a brain that matches that of the Hobbit for size.

"It showed that we really could demonstrate with a specimen that [microephaly] could explain the Hobbit's small brain," she told Horizon.

Along with the others who have already come out publicly, like Maciej Henneberg and Alan Thorne --- and of course Teuku Jacob --- this is starting to seem like a rather large team of experts arrayed on the anti-floresiensis side.

"Set to publish new evidence" sounds good; we should see this coming out soon.

Meanwhile, there is the problem of the second mandible:

"Let's buy into [the sceptics'] argument just for a bit of fun," said Professor Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong, Australia, a member of the discovery team.

"We've got a complete lower jaw that's identical to the first so there we have a situation where we've now got to have two really badly diseased individuals.

"We've got a diseased population like some sort of leper colony, living in Liang Bua 18,000 years ago. The probabilities have got to be vanishingly small."

This may become the most intensely studied pair of jaws ever. Are they really so similar? Remember that the second jaw hasn't yet been published. From the pictures, it looks if anything a bit smaller than LB1, and strange --- although not in precisely the same way. Are they both "badly diseased individuals"?

I'd say it's at least as likely as that skeleton being normal.

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