Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Indonesian "hobbit" debate continues

A team of scientists have discovered fossils of an extinct hobbit-like people on a Pacific Ocean island where they lived up to 3,000 years ago, a South African university has reported. I wonder what stories the creationists are making up to explain this one.

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A team of scientists have discovered fossils of an extinct hobbit-like people on a Pacific Ocean island where they lived up to 3,000 years ago, a South African university has reported.

The former island cave inhabitants, some "as small as just over a metre", shared features with the controversial Homo floresiensis specimens discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004, said a statement from
Johannesburg's Witwatersrand University (Wits) on Tuesday.

The discovery, initially made by South African palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger while holidaying on the Micronesian island of Palau in 2006, features in this week's edition of the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

The subjects of the 2004 discovery, dubbed "hobbits" after author J.R.R Tolkien's pint-sized and hairy-footed fiction heroes, have been at the centre of a scientific argument over their classification.

Some have argued they were a formerly unknown human species, while others maintain the tiny humans had merely suffered from stunting.

"The Palauen fossils exhibit a surprising number of traits that were originally used to describe the hobbit as a unique species," said Berger.

These included a small body size with large teeth, small faces and reduced chins.

After Berger discovered the fossils on holiday, he and a team of scientists from the United States' Duke and Rutgers universities, as well as a group of Wits students, returned for further examinations on a grant from the National Geographic Society.

"What we found astounded our most experienced explorers, even the Palauen officials who accompanied us," said Berger.

LINK TO FULL STORY

7 comments:

Tommy said...

I knew "The Lord of The Rings" was literally true! It's only a matter of time before they find the ruins of Minas Tirith.

Stardust said...

Well, it's all written in a book, and millions of people own the book and read it. And now they find Hobbit bones, so it MUST be true. ;) teeheeeheee

Spirula said...

Ha!

"If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS??"

(Sorry, this seemed like such an opportune time for that quote)

Stardust said...

"If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS??"

good one once again, spirula!

hey, I have been meaning to ask you why you picked the name "spirula"? That has something to do with a squid, doesn't it?

Spirula said...

Yes,

Occasionally, you can find Spirula shells on the beach (I found one near Port Aransas, TX). Like the pic, I find them beautiful although delicate.

Most people would assume they are the shell of some type of snail. (Insert example for a cladistic primitive characteristic of mollusks here). In fact, they are the gas filled shells of mid to deep water squid species that use it to adjust bouyancy or remain vertical and stationary in the water column. Cephalopods facinate me, though I have yet to work with them.

How did you know?

Stardust said...

How did you know?

I remembered that from my Biology class in college, can you believe that? Weird the things we remember. I didn't remember the whole details about it, however. Interesting.

Stardust said...

Funny, I can't remember what day of the week it is half the time but I remembered that about the spirula and squids...I am getting to be like an old person.