The Hobbit Brain

I’ve done my bit of flip flopping on the issue, and now this proverbial hatchet is unearthed again. Back in March of 2005, I wrote that I was convinced that the microcephaly of the Flores man findings indicated it was significantly a different species anatomically… a piece of evidence I so desperately asked for in February of 2005.

Now there is a big debate being thrown out that the 1m- (3ft-) tall female skeleton from Indonesia is actually a diseased modern human! No kidding. The details of the article can be read here, “New ‘Hobbit’ disease link claim“… but I will give you all highlights of the article’s content.

Firstly, by way of a comment from Professor Bob Martin, “one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team’s original interpretation, says the Hobbit’s brain is “worryingly” small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.”

“What this law says in simple terms is that if you halve body size, brain size is only reduced by 15%,” he told the BBC’s Horizon programme.”So if you halve body size you don’t halve brain size, the brain is reduced far less than that.” …

Starting with a height of 1.75m and a brain size of 990 cubic centimetres for Homo erectus, Professor Martin used the standard scaling formula to calculate that, given a height of 1m, the Hobbit’s brain size should have been about 750 cubic centimetres.

Liang Bua cave is deep in the forested heart of Flores (Image: Chris Turney)
In fact, it was a mere 400 cubic centimetres.

“You can calculate what body height the Hobbit would need to get its brain down to this size, and the answer is… about the size of a meerkat,” he said.

A TV show will air for those that live in the United Kingdom on Horizon: The Mystery of the Human Hobbit, shown on Thursday, 22 September, 2005 on BBC Two at 2100 BST. Watch it.

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