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The Hobbit: Human after all?

Scientists wage ongoing debate over tiny hominid's origins in Science

Tabitha M. Powledge
Scientists have moved their debate over the origins of the Hobbit onto the pages of this week's Science. In the journal, two groups of authors argue whether or not the Hobbit -- the 18,000 year-old bizarre-looking tiny hominid unearthed on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 -- is a new human species or just a member of Homo sapiens with microcephaly, a heterogeneous head and brain deformity."I don't expect this to settle the argument, but I'm relieved that we got something published in a peer-reviewed journal," Robert Martin, primatologist at Chicago's Field Museum, told The Scientist. In the journal, Martin and his colleagues critique a 2005 Science paper that analyzed an endocast of the skull from the Hobbit type specimen, LB1, and compared it to a single microcephalic skull. Based on the results, the 2005 paper concluded that LB1 was not microcephalic. Martin and his team,...

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