While this isn't my usual playground on ATS - it is a forum I read often and I spend a lot of my non-ATS related time reading and watching
documentaries on the subjects this forum discusses. Besides, given the fact that a movie release is coinciding with this scientific information - it
seemed like the exact right moment to step in and post this!
I felt it was high time I shared and contributed!
Since I first read about Homo floresiensis
several years back, I've kind of had a soft spot
for the little guy. After all, he is nicknamed The Hobbit
- so my modern sensibilities, and cultural influences, tend to force my emotions a
bit towards all things hip and Tolkien stories are most definitely hip these days.
For those who do not know, Homo floresiensis is a somewhat contested, possible relative of the human species. From Wikipedia:
Homo floresiensis skull
Site, on Flores, where the skull was found
Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man", nicknamed "hobbit" and "Flo") is a possible species, now extinct, in the genus Homo. The remains were discovered
in 2003 on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete cranium (skull). These
remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans, and the progress of this
scientific controversy has been closely followed by the news media at large. This hominin is remarkable for its small body and brain and for its
survival until relatively recent times (possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago). Recovered alongside the skeletal remains were stone tools from
archaeological horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago.
The discoverers (archaeologist Mike Morwood and colleagues) proposed that a variety of features, both primitive and derived, identify these
individuals as belonging to a new species, H. floresiensis, within the taxonomic tribe of Hominini. Hominini currently comprises the extant species
Homo sapiens (the only living member of the genus Homo), bonobo (genus Pan), and chimpanzee (genus Pan); their ancestors; and the extinct lineages of
their common ancestor. The discoverers also proposed that H. floresiensis lived contemporaneously with modern humans on Flores.
Doubts that the remains constitute a new species were soon voiced by the Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob, who suggested that the skull of LB1
was a microcephalic modern human. Two studies by paleoneurologist Dean Falk and her colleagues (2005, 2007) rejected this possibility. Falk et al.
(2005) has been rejected by Martin et al. (2006) and Jacob et al. (2006), but defended by Morwood (2005) and Argue, Donlon et al. (2006).
Two orthopedic researches published in 2007 both reported evidence to support species status for H. floresiensis. A study of three tokens of carpal
(wrist) bones concluded there were similarities to the carpal bones of a chimpanzee or an early hominin such as Australopithecus and also differences
from the bones of modern humans. A study of the bones and joints of the arm, shoulder, and lower limbs also concluded that H. floresiensis was more
similar to early humans and apes than modern humans. In 2009, the publication of a cladistic analysis and a study of comparative body measurements
provided further support for the hypothesis that H. floresiensis and Homo sapiens are separate species.
Critics of the claim for species status continue to believe that these individuals are Homo sapiens possessing pathologies of anatomy and physiology.
A second hypothesis in this category is that the individuals were born without a functioning thyroid, resulting in a type of endemic cretinism
My personal, non-professional opinion ( or maybe hope ) is that this is a unique and separate species. That, to me, opens the door to a much broader
history than the current, more restrictive models of exodus from Africa tend to imply.
With that background information, I give you an article from
regarding a startling facial reconstruction done recently on the Hobbit's skull:
Reconstructed Face of Extinct “Hobbit” Species Is Startlingly Humanlike
Once upon a time a tiny human species with large feet shared the planet with our own kind. It hunted giant rats and miniature cousins of the elephant,
defended its kills from monstrous storks and dodged fearsome dragons. This is not the plot of a lost Tolkien book. This really happened. I’m
referring, of course, to our extinct relative Homo floresiensis, which lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia as recently as 17,000 years ago and
has for obvious reasons been dubbed the hobbit. It turns out that despite the species’ small size, it may have looked rather familiar, according to
a scientific reconstruction.
The Flores hobbit is known best from a relatively complete skeleton of an adult female known as LB1 who stood roughly a meter tall and possessed a
brain less than a third of the size of our own.
One intriguing theory holds that the hobbits may indicate that human ancestors left Africa far earlier than previously supposed. Conventional wisdom
holds that the australopithecines never made it out of the mother land, leaving it to taller, larger-brained Homo to colonize the rest of the old
world. But maybe, some researchers have suggested, the hobbits were a remnant population of australopithecine that made it out of Africa early
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with, The Hobbit
The process used in reconstruction:
That is a face that really wouldn't stand out too much, even today. So human! Even with all of the controversy and arguing about whether or not this
is a legitimate, lost cousin to humanity. Looking at her face leaves me filled with empathy and intrigued!
Hopefully other ATS'ers will find this story and subject as enjoyable and intriguing as I do. To think that the vastness of human history may be so
much more involved that we are currently aware. Even to such a degree that our own greatest authors of fiction - and their greatest creations of
imagination - prove out to be just part of the grand scheme. That reality could be as potent and powerful as it's fictional counterpart?
If only we'd own up to the reality that we don't really know all that we like to think we do. Huh?
edit on 12/12/12 by Hefficide because: (no reason given)