July 07, 2006

The Homo floresiensis debate rages on

Well, the saga of the hobbit continues in a new article on the Journal of Human Evolution. Some previous entries on the topic. The new paper comes in favor of the idea that the Flores hominid represents a new species.

Journal of Human Evolution

Homo floresiensis: Microcephalic, pygmoid, Australopithecus, or Homo? (In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 5 July 2006)

Debbie Argue, Denise Donlon, Colin Groves and Richard Wright

Abstract

The remarkable partial adult skeleton (LB1) excavated from Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, has been attributed to a new species, Homo floresiensis, based upon a unique mosaic of primitive and derived features compared to any other hominin. The announcement precipitated widespread interest, and attention quickly focused on its possible affinities. LB1 is a small-bodied hominin with an endocranial volume of 380–410 cm3, a stature of 1 m, and an approximate geological age of 18,000 years. The describers (Brown et al., 2004) originally proposed that H. floresiensis was the end product of a long period of isolation of H. erectus or early Homo on a small island, a process known as insular dwarfism. More recently, Morwood, Brown, and colleagues (2005) reviewed this assessment in light of new material from the site and concluded that H. floresiensis is not likely to be descended from H. erectus, with the genealogy of the species remaining uncertain. Other interpretations, namely that LB1 is a pygmy or afflicted with microcephaly, have also been put forward.

We explore the affinities of LB1 using cranial and postcranial metric and nonmetric analyses. LB1 is compared to early Homo, two microcephalic humans, a ‘pygmoid’ excavated from another cave on Flores, H. sapiens (including African pygmies and Andaman Islanders), Australopithecus, and Paranthropus. Based on these comparisons, we conclude that it is unlikely that LB1 is a microcephalic human, and it cannot be attributed to any known species. Its attribution to a new species, Homo floresiensis, is supported.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I'm curious - are there mtDNA results on floresiensis? Feel free to write me at rjb@worldnetoh.com.