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3-D Analysis Supports “Hobbits” as Human Species

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Researchers have disagreed over whether tiny Homo floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, is a separate human species or a diseased specimen of modern human. An international team of scientists recently analyzed 3-D landmark data from the surfaces of the Liang Bua 1 cranium, belonging to the controversial Homo floresiensis; other fossil humans; and samples of modern human crania from individuals suffering from microcephaly and other pathological conditions. Using geometric morphometrics methods, they found that the “Hobbit” cranium more closely resembles other fossil humans than diseased modern humans. “Our findings provide the most comprehensive evidence to date linking the Homo floresiensis skull with extinct fossil human species rather than with pathological modern humans. Our study therefore refutes the hypothesis that this specimen represents a modern human with a pathological condition, such as microcephaly,” they wrote in PLOS ONE.