Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Hobbits" Were Separate Species, Skull Suggests

"Hobbits" Were Separate Species, Skull Suggests
John Roach
for National Geographic News
January 23, 2009

The skull of the so-called hobbit discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 suggests its owner was an archaic human ancestor, not a diminutive or diseased modern human, according to a new study.

(Read "The People Time Forgot: Flores Find" in National Geographic magazine.)

The conclusion stems from a comparison of the skull to the noggins of modern humans and apes, as well as the fossil brain cases of early human ancestors.

"The shape of the skull is consistent with what we would expect for a small archaic Homo," said Karen Baab, a biological anthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York State. The genus Homo includes modern human beings as well as close relatives like Neanderthals and Home erectus.

Baab is the lead author of the study, published online in the Journal of Human Evolution.

(Related: Flores hobbit-like human picture gallery.)

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