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Two new studies in the British journal Nature go a long way toward settling the debate.
A team led by William Jungers of Stony Brook University in New York tackled the problem by analysing the hobbit's foot.
In some ways it is very human. The big toe is aligned with the others and the joints make it possible to extend the toes as the body's full weight falls on the foot -- attributes not found in great apes.
But in other respects it is startlingly primitive: far longer than its modern human equivalent and equipped with a very small big toe, long and curved lateral toes, and a weight-bearing structure closer to a chimpanzee's.
Recent archaeological evidence from Kenya shows that the modern foot evolved more than 1.5 million years ago, most likely in Homo erectus.
So unless the Flores hobbits became more primitive over time -- considered extremely unlikely -- they must have branched off the human line at an even earlier date.
For Jungers and colleagues, this suggests their ancestor was not Homo erectus "but instead some other more primitive hominin whose dispersal into southeast Asia is still undocumented."
Originally posted by punkinworks
Newly completed studies make an exceedingly good argument for their being a new species.
The orang pendek, say villagers, averages just under one metre high, is immensely strong with broad shoulders and short legs and is covered in short, dark grey hair. It is, witnesses insist, quite unlike any of the eight species of primate known to exist in the Kerinci jungles. It is not, they will add, a man. It is simply orang pendek, and it's no mysterious flash in the zoological pan. It has been repeatedly seen by both local people and by Europeans for at least a century.
Originally posted by breakingdradles
So is this the missing link?
Is this what everyone has been looking for?
Originally posted by punkinworks09
By the way, good morning slayer
They would have branched off a long time ago, more than 1.5 mya,
our ancestors had modern feet going way back. Its one of our most enduring features and has remained unchanged for several million years.
The foot that may prove 'hobbits' existed
Unusual features suggest that remains discovered on Indonesian island did belong to new human species
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Thursday, 7 May 2009
A miniature species of extinct humans, nicknamed "hobbits", possessed unusual anatomical features explained by their complete isolation from the rest of humanity for thousands of years on their remote island home in Indonesia, studies have found.
The tiny people, who grew to an adult height of no more than three feet, astounded scientists in 2004 when a skull and partial skeletons were unearthed from a cave on the island of Flores. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the species, Homo floresiensis, had lived in and around the cave for tens of thousand of years before dying out about 17,000 years ago.
The latest research into H. floresiensis has found that they were flat-footed, long-toed creatures who could walk easily on two legs but would have found it difficult to run at speed. A separate study suggests that their very small heads, which were perfectly in proportion to their bodies, were the evolutionary outcome of living on such a remote island for so long.
Originally posted by grover
The most interesting thing about all of this is the fact that whatever it was, its brain was a third the size of ours and still it made fairly complex tools (if you think stone tools are simple to make try knapping one... I tried it once at a demonstration and damn near took my thumb off) which throws entirely into question the whole assumption that larger brain= greater capacity.
Bohm is not the only researcher who has found evidence that the universe is a hologram. Working independently in the field of brain research, Standford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also become persuaded of the holographic nature of reality. Pribram was drawn to the holographic model by the puzzle of how and where memories are stored in the brain. For decades numerous studies have shown that rather than being confined to a specific location, memories are dispersed throughout the brain.
In a series of landmark experiments in the 1920s, brain scientist Karl Lashley found that no matter what portion of a rat's brain he removed he was unable to eradicate its memory of how to perform complex tasks it had learned prior to surgery. The only problem was that no one was able to come up with a mechanism that might explain this curious "whole in every part" nature of memory storage.
Then in the 1960s Pribram encountered the concept of holography and realized he had found the explanation brain scientists had been looking for. Pribram believes memories are encoded not in neurons, or small groupings of neurons, but in patterns of nerve impulses that crisscross the entire brain in the same way that patterns of laser light interference crisscross the entire area of a piece of film containing a holographic image. In other words, Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram.
Pribram's theory also explains how the human brain can store so many memories in so little space. It has been estimated that the human brain has the capacity to memorize something on the order of 10 billion bits of information during the average human lifetime (or roughly the same amount of information contained in five sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica).