Elizabeth Culotta’s news focus on the Liang Bua conference got trapped by my radar as I checked the RSS headlines this morning, but because the gods have not blessed me with easy access to Science, I couldn’t report on the one sentence teaser Science gives us. Thankfully, John Hawks has. A disclosure, since I don’t have the article, what I’ll be sharing with you is a third hand account.
Hawks nails the paedomorphosis theory being brought up by Christoph Zollikofer. For those not in the know, paedomorphosis is biological term for the retention of traits, previously seen only in juveniles, in full grown adult organisms. An example of paedomorphosis is some salamanders retain the gills, which in most amphibians, are lost upon reaching adulthood. Zollikofer suggests that LB 1, what we call the Flores hominin, really is a paedomorphic Homo erectus. Hawks lays down some of the anatomy that tells us otherwise.
“Morwood is now arguing for descent from early pre-erectine Homo or Australopithecus, while there is some discussion about whether Dmanisi is a plausible ancestor. These are all attempts to minimize the amount of evolutionary change on Flores; I think that is misguided. If the island really generated a highly derived lineage, then let it be highly derived!”
The article seems pretty thorough, even getting into some discussion on the archaeology recovered from Liang Bua. And since it has been a while since we last heard from the great island of Flores and the Liang Bua cave, it is a welcome little news clip.