Hobbit = new species of human

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by pinto32, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. pinto32 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    "Last fall, researchers excavating a site on the Indonesian island of Flores stunned the scientific community with their discovery of what appeared to be the skeleton of a miniature human. Now, detailed analysis of the fossil's skull has shown that the creature appears to be a new species."


    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Science/Suzuki/2005/03/09/955242.html
     
  2. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    #2
    Interesting. It appears to be a nice follow-up to the story posted here, where there appeared to be some debate on just this subject - new species or not?

    Cool.
     
  3. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #3
    interesting, if it ends up being a new speices i wonder what it will be called...
     
  4. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

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    #4
    I saw this a few days ago. I just wish they would stop using the "hobbit" term. Who's the moron who decided to add that description to this species. It offers absolutley no insight, and its only purpose is to generate interest. Seriously, if they had just said a dwarf species had been found, it would have been mentioned on page 17 of the paper and probably never mentioned again. Call it a hobbit and its front page news. And its not like preivous species of human weren't small too in some cases. The far more interesting side of this is that its a new species of human that lived very recently. its size isn't as important.
     
  5. Mr. Durden macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    The most shocking aspect of this story is that they found very close by, a ring. With Elvish writing... :)
     
  6. apple2991 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    The most shocking aspect of this story is that some people still call for evolutionary theory to be banned from schools. Er....
     
  7. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #7
    I would have thought someone with the name "Strider," even the 42nd one, would have been more protective of the little people. ;)

    I think you're right about the interesting part of a different species living so recently at the same time as Homo sapiens sapiens. That doesn't mean that the fact they were so small relative to us is not interesting.
     
  8. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #8
    It was tentatively named Homo Floresiensis upon discovery, and that name will likely remain, since the find is rapidly gaining acceptance among paleoanthropologists.

    As an anthropologist I've been following this with interest. They've made an endocast of the brain, which is done by essentially using the braincase of the skull as a mold. The contours of the brain are impressed on the inner wall of the braincase and by using plaster or latex a cast of the external contours of the brain can be made. Interestingly, the brain's size in proportion to the body is similar to australopithecines (an early hominid genus). However, the morphology of the contours is more reminiscent to Homo Erectus, a later hominid of the genus homo (same genus as us, different species). H. Erectus is proven to have manufactured and used stone tools, unlike australopithecines.

    This is clearly a find of major significance and though there are skeptics the evidence seems to reliably suggest a tool-making small-statured species of hominid, possibly derived from H. Erectus, with populations surviving as late as 18,000 years ago, much later than the last neandertals. Thus the find is significant in that it is a new species of hominid with novel features (body size) for a member of the genus Homo, and is also the last hominid other than H. Sapiens (us) to walk the earth alive. Cool stuff.

    I like Tolkien's books, but the whole "hobbit" thing is just a media concoction.
     
  9. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

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    #9
    Actually in this case, I believe they used computer techniques to determine the brain shape, rather than pouring molds. I assume something similar to an MRI. They didn't want to damage the skull. That's what I believe I read previously.
     
  10. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #10
    Correct. I was just re-reading one of the relevant papers in Science and they speak of using a "virtual" endocast. Here's a short online version: link

    These methods are way expensive so most researchers don't have ready access to them, and I'm used to the "old fashoined" ways, because that's all most of us can afford. With a fossil of this significance additional funding for follow-up work is usually easy to get though, so for them it's no big deal. The advantage of computer modeling is that immediately after the model is complete the computer can automatically compute all the relevant statistical data accurately; All you have to do is write your name on the printout and you've got publishable data. :D
     
  11. RandomDeadHead macrumors 6502

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    #11
    No doubt. I am surprised we don't hear more about people gouging out their eyes so they can have an excuse not see the truth.

    To quote Bob Dylan:
    They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on highway 5, the judge says to the high sheriff I want him dead or alive, either one I don't care.
     
  12. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #12
    Isn't it strange how Homo sapiens is the last of the Homo genus, making it sound like the Homo genus isn't that successful, and yet only the sapiens rule the world today. Wonder what happened?

    And maybe it's a strange question, but why aren't caucasians, Africans, Asians and Native Americans considered different species? There are significant differences - the skin color, bone structure, stature, etc. And because we can inter-breed doesn't matter - dogs can breed inter-species fine for example...

    Or maybe I got this all completely mixed up.
     
  13. joepunk macrumors 68030

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    #13
    People today are called Homo Sapien Sapien

    Homo Sapien were the ones who, from one theory, traveled from the Asian continent to Europe after Homo erectus traveled out of Africa and onto the Asian continent. Correct me if I am wrong.
     
  14. strider42 macrumors 65816

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    #14
    It dends on who you talk to. For some, a species is determined by a certain amount of genetic drift. The different races of people are so close genetically that you can't really tell them readily apart from what I understand.

    For others, a species is determined by a population that would not naturally interbreed with another population living int he same area. For instance, dogs and cayotes can sucessfully interbreed with no problem, and they both live in some of the same areas, but they don't interbreed. Thus, they are distinct species. Through a bunch of humans together of different races and they'll get together just fine. This would probably be even more true if culture didn't play such a strong role in who we end up with.

    Most legitimate definitions of species would include all races of people under the same species, with localized variations accounting for the races.
     
  15. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    #15
    Since humans of different ethnicity can interbreed and produce viable fertile offspring we are one species. Race is a social construction and while physical anthropologists ,especially those doing forensic work talk about races it is based on statistical data based on morphological variations of the bone structure and anthropometric measurements. For example projecting zygomatics ( cheek bones) are more common in Asian or Native population than in Caucasian, or square eye orbits are found in Caucasian and Negroid ( thats the official term) populations but not in east asian, so an East Indian person would be classified as a Caucasian based on most of their cranial morphology even though we would not call them "white".
    Dogs have different breeds but all one species.
    But since a Donkey and a Horse produce a mule which is sterile they are two different species.

    As to where H. sapiens originated depends if you follow the out of africa (replacement) hypothesis or the multiregional hypothesis... still a very debatable topic in physical anthropology despite(because) of the mtDNA results on various Homo remains...

    It will be intersting to see what the mtDNA analysis will show from this new hominid...
     
  16. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #16
    There is more genetic and phenotypic variation between two individuals of any ethnicity than there is between any two ethnicities. In other words the statistical genetic difference between, say, Africans and Asians as a whole is less than the statistical difference between one African person and one Asian person. It is quite small really. I have done some forensic work determining age, sex and ethnicity on human skeletal material. I can tell you right now that while a highly trained physical anthropologist can determine the above with very good accuracy, ethnicity is the least evident and hardest to determine. I have seen a skull with a ton of diagnostic caucasian features that turned out to be 100% African, and so on. When it comes to our genes and our bones we are all VERY much the same. the variations we call race or ethnicity are just that - minor variations.

    Actually the genus Homo and its phylogenic ancestors were NOT successful. If you look at the history of anthropoids as a whole you will find that hominids are some the most poorly adapted members. Hominids have very little physical adaptation to the world around them; the body is very gracile compared to other mammals our size (any full grown chimp can easily curl 160lbs - How many of us can do THAT? :eek: ), our senses of hearing and smell are poor. That is why we fared so poorly in evolutionary terms.

    The adaptations we DO have are an advanced, color binocular visual apparatus, very large brain size proportional to body mass and bipedalism, which frees use of the hands to manipulate objects. These physical adaptations are all geared to serve the one behavioral adaptation that has made H. Sapiens so very succesful: the reliance on a large and dynamic set of learned behavior (known as "culture") over physical adaptations and instinctive behavior.

    Though H. Sapiens has been very successful, EVERY other hominid species has gone exctinct because their "culture" has been insufficient to allow the species to adapt to its environment and out compete other species. Culture has allowed H. Sapiens to dominate the earth - but this "brains over brawn" phenomenon has only succeded just this once in natural history. It is actually not a very evolutionarily sound design from a Darwinian standpoint (without culture we are essentially big, slow hairless pieces of food for the rest of the animal kingom), but when allowed to mature it is fantastically successful, as our species has demonstrated.

    I hate to sound like a textbook but I guess I'm just glad all that money I paid to my university bought me something other than a stupid little piece of paper. :p
     
  17. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #17
    Lord Blackadder, it looks to me like your eduction dollars were well spent. It all jives with my own memories, but then my own emphasis is archeology not physical anthropology.

    Lareth, I don't know of anyone who today teaches the "multi-regional" or the "polygenesis" theory outside some racist quacks who still can't stand the idea of our ancestors coming out of Africa.
     
  18. Leareth macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Actually at the universities i have attended both taught multiregional and out of africa hypotheses, remember they are hypotheses not laws or hard facts...the most popular hypotheses right now is the Genetic replacement model: traits originated in one place but spread through archaic populations via gene flow. which would explain the intermediate/transitional fossil and skeletal remains...

    the problem with the out of africa hypothesis is that anthropologists can't agree on what is being replaced : people or genes.
    also there should not be any intermediate/transitional forms except in area of origin ie Africa, and that modern humans should have little genetic diversity since the species is young...as well the population closest to the area of origin should have the highest amount of genetic variation...(Park 2002:249-250)
     
  19. Piarco macrumors 68030

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    #19
    You're not wrong there - a story in the media yesterday was about a guy who had his face, including an eye, and his testicles literally ripped off by two chimps...

    I bought a house mate at uni, who was one of the folks inclined to dismiss Darwin and The Theory out of hand for religious reasons, a copy of Origin of the Species..... never had to duck so fast in my life :D
     
  20. Sayhey macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Every Intro. Anthro. course should teach about the two competing theories of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, one theory (the Out of Africa) is supported by every fossil find to date. The other is not supported by any fossil finds. That is, of course, the difference between a scientific theory and merely a hypothesis.

    I would be interested in what evidence you know of that supports a polygenesis interpretation of the facts. As I've said, this is not my area of emphasis, but the idea of equating the two approaches as just two different hypothesis runs counter to everything I remember.
     
  21. ravenvii macrumors 604

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    #21
    Very interesting post! I learned something new. Thanks! :)
     
  22. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

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    #22
    There is a lot of missing data, since any fossil record is by nature very fragamentary, but the "out of africa" hypothesis has by far the strongest case currently. Like you said, a lot of the stuff that is currently being taught is important in regards to the history of the development of paleoanthropology as a discipline - as hypotheses they are largely obsolete.

    Sayhey, I'm actually an archaeology major myself, though I've done a bit of physical anthro as an undergrad. Right now I'm trying to get into grad school (it's a b*tch) while working (see previous). All the work I've done so far is prehistoric native American stuff in Ohio, although I may get into geophysical survey or historic archeology - what are you into?

    EDIT: Looked at your profile. I considered getting onto classical archeology but I don't have any contacts in that field yet...Have you done any fieldwork over there yet?
     
  23. Leareth macrumors 68000

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    #23
    the fact that there are transitional fossils. things that look like hydrids between two Homo types.
    The mtDNA analysis done on the neanderthal remains by Krings et al 1996, was not the best quality, there were many areas in their methods that do not stand up to modern standard of working with aDNA, the mtDNA they did recover was very fragmented and they created a nearly complete strand by overlapping the repeating fragments. in each instance they did this there were up to 9 base pair sustitutions between the various clones , so which strand is the true strand?
    Secondly there has not been any reliable aDNA study done on the Eastern European Neanderthals , which are very intermediate looking between Neanderthals and moderns, their technology level was higher than that of the classic neanderthals , and there is evidence for a 5,000 overlap between the Neaderthal population and the moderns.

    New work being done in Siberia is offering startling finds , tool technology complexes that dont jive with the european/middle east models

    Another thing is why are there archaic Homo sapiens populations in China before they are in Europe? ( Dr S. Keates as yet unpublished )

    the current theory holds that hominids arose from tree dwelling primates ,
    why could this not have happened in Asia as well?

    I am not a racist , but I find that there is too much evidence against each hypotheses to fully support either one. That is why this find of the 'Hobbit' skeloton is so interestingm the mtDNA work done on it could completely contradict the out of africa hypothesis if a new species, albeit unsuccessful one, arose on it own...
     
  24. Sayhey macrumors 68000

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    #24
    I haven't had the opportunity to do any field work outside California. Although I can't wait to go! I'm really just getting my feet wet. This is my second career after raising a family.
     
  25. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #25
    On the "I am not a racist" statement, I never meant to call you one. My only point was that most of the people who push the multiple origins idea of humanity are, in fact, pushing it to further such agendas.

    I also think we are talking passed each other. Are we talking about the origins of archaic Homo sapiens or the origins of Hominids? There is only about 5+ million years of evolution between the two. Do we agree that there is little doubt that Hominid origins are firmly rooted in Africa? My understanding is that the oldest archaic Homo sapiens are also found in Africa. In that regard, your unpublished work by Dr. Keates would be quite interesting to read. I also understand that the latest consensus on Neanderthals is that they are an evolutionary dead end. Not quite sure, if that's the case, how studies about their geographical origins are germane.

    While I agree mtDNA work on the new "Hobbit" find will be of interest, how does the evolution of a new species, that existed at the same time as modern humans, shed any light on our species evolutionary history? No one is claiming that modern humans are descended from these "hobbits."
     

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