The Hobbit Challenge

We were not Alone. Less than 12,000 years ago we shared the planet with Homo floresiensis – the Hobbits. Aunty (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) screened an updated documentary on the Hobbits, with some seriously teasing ideas… The Hobbit Enigma …which is fully downloadable. Well worth a look. It gives a voice to the sceptics as well as the believers, but makes a strong case that the Hobbits really are small-bodied, small-brained hominids unlike anything previously imagined.

But what are they? Two possibilities –

(i) a different evolutionary track from Australopithecus roots. Bill Jungers backs this idea, especially after he fit together near perfectly the hip bones of the Hobbit (LB-1) to the sacrum of Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”).

(ii) a dwarfed version of Homo georgicus – the 1.8-1.7 million year old hominids from Dmanisi in Georgia, which have much smaller brains than Homo erectus plus some post-cranial features uniquely their own.

But did the ancestors of Homo floresiensis migrate to Indonesia? Or did our ancestors migrate to Africa from Asia?


Some links –

Were the Hobbits Cretins? …medically cretins i.e. deficient in iodine. Very unlikely as the main source of iodine, fish, were found amongst the food remains in the cave.

John Hawks’ Hobbit cretin FAQ …more reasons why that analysis is wrong.

Is the Homo floresiensis phenotype due to mutations in the PCNT gene? …a rare condition causes an otherwise normal person to grow to half-size – including an otherwise normal, but small brain. A very ascerbic Anthropology blogger’s take on the matter. Science is about scepticism…

Bradshaw Foundation page on the Hobbits …initially what drove Mike Moorwood and colleagues to Flores was 30,000 year old Asian paintings in the Kimberlies, Northern Territory.

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