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Homo floresiensis

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Picture of a Homo Floresiensis skull taken at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History

Homo floresiensis (also called "Flores Man" and nicknamed "Hobbit") is the name for a possible species in the genus Homo, remarkable for its small body, small brain, and survival until relatively recent times.[1] Many have argued that a variety of the features identified the skeleton found as that of a new species of hominin, H. floresiensis. It is believed to have lived at the same time as modern humans on the Indonesian island of Flores. One mostly complete skeleton and one tooth, dated at about 18,000 years old, were discovered in deposits in Liang Bua Cave on Flores in 2003. [2] Parts of seven other skeletons have been recovered as well as similarly small stone tools from dates ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago. The first of these remains was unearthed in 2003 and the publication date of the original description is October 2004. [2]

Contents

Discovery

The original skeleton (called LB1) was located in the same earth deposits on Flores that also contained stone tools, the bones of dwarf elephants, giant rodents, and Komodo dragons. [2] It was excavated from Liang Bua in 2003 and was missing only its arms. In this same area, they were able to find more remains and thus were able to, with fair certainty, piece together a complete skeleton. Scientists claim that it lived as little as 18,000 years ago. [3] The bones were not fossilized, so scientists are hopeful they can extract mitochondrial DNA that they can use to compare to other Homo sapien species. It is unlikely that there will be any intact DNA. [3]

Anatomy

Drawing of Homo floresiensis by Peter Schouten

Homo floresiensis stands less than 40in tall with a brain capacity of about 24in3. [4] The normal brain capacity of a modern human is 80–90 in3.

Further features used to support that the bones come from a population of previously unidentified hominins include the absence of a chin, the relatively low twist of the arm bones, and the width of the leg bones relative to their length. Some scientists argue that these features are the result of some sort of pathology.

In September, 2007, Matthew W. Tocheri, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, said that Homo floresiensis was definitely an additional branch on the human evolutionary chain. He and his team found the bones in the Homo floresiensis wrist to be "indistinguishable from an African ape or early hominin-like wrist and nothing at all like that seen in modern humans and Neanderthals". He continues to say that while there are some pathologies that can affect the wrist, there are none that can turn a modern human wrist into that of an extinct proto-human or a modern day ape. [5] As a side note, one of the most outstanding feature was that they had their own language.

Microcephaly

Shortly after the skeleton was found, a paleopathologist from the University of Adelaide, Henneberg, said that the individual suffered from suffered from secondary microcephaly. He also added that the skull of LB1 is very similar to a 4,000 year old skull from a modern human who suffered from microcephaly. Later, Peter Brown and Mike Morwood denounced the research by Henneberg as "extremely poorly informed, and ill designed." [6]

A couple years later, more researchers compared the measurements of LB1 with two microcephalic skulls. They reported that the LB1 skull was outside the range of H. sapiens and different from the microcephalic skulls. They concluded that LB1 was not a microcephalic human.

A researcher named Teuku Jacob then proposed another theory. He said that LB1 may be the skull of a microcephalic pygmy that lived near the area. [4]

Also, Dr. Jacob Birdsell suggested microcephaly. This was argued by the well-known human evolution authority, Britain’s Dr. Chris Stringer, who pointed out that Flores Man had other features distinct from the typical human today. [7] However, Anatomy Professor Maciej Henneberg gave significant support that LB1 was a microcephalic human. Henneberg is the Head of the Department of Anatomy at South Australia’s Adelaide University, and has studied human evolution for 32 years. He said that the dimensions of the face, nose and jaws don't differ very much from those of modern humans, except for the very small braincase. He says, “The bell rang in my head” as he remembered a Minoan period human skull from Crete, which has long been identified as that of a microcephalic. Henneberg says that doing a statistical comparison of the two skulls “shows that there is not a single significant difference between the two skulls though one is reputedly that of the ‘new species of human’, the other a member of a sophisticated culture that preceded classical Greek civilisation.”[7]

Creationist Conclusions

140 cranial features have been found that place Homo floresiensis within modern human ranges of variation. There have also been documented individuals with no chin in living Austalomelanesian populations, and so evolutionists can no longer argue that a lack of chin means they're primitive. Abnormal craniofacial and postcranial asymmetries were also reported, indicating that the individual had grown and developed abnormally. It is thus the Creationist conclusion that the "hobbit" is still a descendant of Adam. [4]

See Also

References

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