Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pro-hobbit faction fires back

And so the raging controversy of our time continues:

The tiny woman dubbed the Hobbit who lived 18,000 years ago on a remote Indonesian island deserves to be deemed a new human species and not a deformed modern human, as skeptics assert, researchers said on Monday.

In the latest salvo in a heated scientific shootout, an international team led by Florida State University anthropologist Dean Falk compared the Hobbit's skull to those of nine people with microcephaly, a rare condition in which the head is abnormally small due to improper brain development.

They concluded that the 3-foot-tall (1-meter) adult woman had a highly evolved brain, unlike that of a microcephalic person, confirming that she belongs to the proposed extinct species Homo floresiensis, closely related to modern Homo sapiens.

Now I suppose my main interest in this story was sparked because the researchers rather cleverly dubbed their discovery as a hobbit, a word designed to catch the eye of Tolkien fans the world over.

And while Homo floresiensis likely didn't have hairy feet (or mithril shirts for that matter), still the romantic in me would feel better about this world knowing that once upon a time tiny people once roamed a world of wonderful and odd creatures.

No comments: