New York Times Profiles Ralph Holloway

The New York Times is running a profile of Ralph Holloway, a paleoanthropologist that specializes in brain evolution, one of my favorite subtopics in anthropology. The piece is written by Ralph HollowayMichael Balter, and it overviews his current project research with Homo floresiensis.

In a nutshell, Holloway is on the fence about whether or not Homo floresiensis is a new species, he sees evidence of platycephaly, a flattening of the brain rather than microcephaly, the focus that everyone else is honing in on.

William Kimbel of the IHO over at ASU makes quote that makes me feel as if Holloway’s contributions are done,

“He will be remembered as the major advocate for an early reorganization of the brain in human evolution.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into the quote, but Dr. Holloway is still very much active and continuing some great work. He’s decided not to retire and he’s continued his very lively academic rivalry with Dr. Dean Falk, who respects his position that the evolution of the human brain is not all about size but also about what functional areas were modified. But, Dr. Falk and him are still butting heads over the Homo floresiensis and the Taung child endocasts.

2 thoughts on “New York Times Profiles Ralph Holloway

  1. I love these types of arguments but frankly, I wish there were more specimens available to address these ongoing debates. It’s getting tiresome hearing this wrangling about this single find. The discovery of Homo floresiensis could be one of the great stories in human evolution and hopefully we’ll know more once the original research team gets back to the caves in Flores and to the other islands. Hard to believe, but their work was halted by the Indonesian government at one point further adding fuel to this mess.

    Of course, I have a vested interest in this discovery, having written a fictional adventure novel called Flores Girl on the recent fossil find. If you are interested, there is more on this ongoing controversy about Homo floresiensis at or catch the free Flores girl podcast at

  2. I agree, Erik. I want more Flores fossils too and less of this sort of debate but that’s sorta hard to control. Holloway and Falk are established anthropologists, experts in their field, and they’ll study this thing ad nauseum.

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