Did you know the cat fight between the paleoanthropologists that found the Hobbit specimens, aka Flores man, Homo floresiensis and the ones who took the fossils off to cast them, was so bad that the Indonesian government actually closed down access to the Liang Bua cave where they were found? Well, that’s the story the Indonesian government is saying… the paleoanthropologists are saying that, “access was reportedly blocked due to political sensitivities,” which to me is one in the same.
Back in 2004, if you remember, the Homo floresiensis finds were announced by a team which included Professor Richard “Bert” Roberts but another professor, Teuku Jacob, based at Gadjah Mada University, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia had his doubts. He’s known as known as Indonesia’s “king of palaeoanthropology” and he,
“took the bones away from their repository in Jakarta to his lab in Yogyakarta, 443km (275 miles) away, against the wishes of the researchers who found them.They were eventually returned. But the discoverers claimed the bones were extensively damaged in Jacob’s lab during attempts to make casts.
The damage included long, deep cuts marking the lower edge of the Hobbit’s jaw on both sides, said to be caused by a knife used to cut away the rubber mold.
In addition, the chin of a second Hobbit jaw was snapped off and glued back together. Whoever was responsible misaligned the pieces and put them at an incorrect angle.
The pelvis was smashed, destroying details that reveal body shape, gait and evolutionary history.
After the accusations surfaced, Professor Jacob denied damaging the remains, telling USA Today that breakages could have occurred when the bones were being transported from Yogyakarta back to Jakarta.
Excavations at Liang Bua were reportedly blocked because Indonesian government officials would not issue exploration permits for projects that might prove Professor Jacob wrong.”
The drama that ensued afterwards would probably drive a bunch of teenage high school girls to craziness. Paleoanthropology is a field full of egos and drama, if you didn’t already know. But there’s some home, with news coming from the BBC, that the issues now appear to have been smoothed over. Professor Roberts said,
“It’s now a matter of getting everything organised so we can start digging again.You’ve got to get there in the dry season; in the wet season you can hardly drive to the site and when you are there, there are puddles of water all over the floor – so it’s got to be dry to sensibly dig holes.”
Which peaks my interest, I’d like to see if there are more Homo floresiensis fossil to be found.