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Researchers from Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York confirmed that the Hobbits, or Homo floresiensis, are indeed a separate “human” species instead of a population of diseases Homo sapiens. The 7th Human Evolution Symposium, Hobbits in the Haystack: Homo floresiensis and Human Evolution was held this year at Stony Brook.

A recent full-body reconstruction of LB1, the ‘little lady of Flores’, by the Parisian paleoartist Elisabeth Daynès. (©2009, S. Plailly/E. Daynès—Reconstruction Atelier Daynès Paris). Photo from The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution.
Cranial comparison between LB1 (Homo floresiensis) and modern human. Photo from www.bbc.co.uk

Height comparison between modern humans and Homo floresiensis. Illustration from www.amnh.org

According to the press release, researchers William Jungers and Karen Baab used statistical analysis on the skeletal remains of LB1 (nicknamed Flo) to determine that Homo floresiensis are indeed a distinct species. A few characteristics of LB1 that makes her and her kind a separate species than modern humans.

  • LB1’s cranial capacity is about 400cc, about the same size as a chimpanzee.
  • The skull and jawbone of LB1 is more primitive looking than any normal modern humans.
  • The thigh bone and shin bone of LB1are much shorter compared to modern humans including Central African pygmies, South African KhoeSan (formerly known as ‘bushmen”) and “negrito” pygmies from the Andaman Islands and the Philippines. Jungers and Baab believe that these are primitive retentions as opposed to island dwarfing.
  • Using a regression equation developed by Jungers, LB1 was about 3 feet, 6 inches (106cm) tall, far smaller than modern human pygmies whose adults grow to less than 4 feet, 11 inches (150cm) tall.
The nearly complete left foot of LB1 next to the right tibia (shin bone, which is ~235 mm long). The foot is relatively very long and has unusual intrinsic proportions; its footprint matches no other species (photo: W. Jungers) The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution.

Read more about the Hobbits at The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution (Free Wiley Interscience PDF).


Originally posted on The Prancing Papio.