Hobbit origins from head to toe

Ever since 2003, when researchers found the skeletal remains of a diminutive, human-like creature--dubbed the Hobbit--on an island in Indonesia, a debate has raged over whether the find represents a new species or a just deformed population of an existing species. Two papers appearing in __Nature__ today--one addressing the shape of its feet and the other the size of its head--confirm that __Homo floresiensis__ is in fact a separate species, but each posits slightly different evolutionary origin

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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May 5, 2009
Ever since 2003, when researchers found the skeletal remains of a diminutive, human-like creature--dubbed the Hobbit--on an island in Indonesia, a debate has raged over whether the find represents a new species or a just deformed population of an existing species. Two papers appearing in __Nature__ today--one addressing the shape of its feet and the other the size of its head--confirm that __Homo floresiensis__ is in fact a separate species, but each posits slightly different evolutionary origins for this latest addition to the human family tree. "Both of these papers show things that could not have evolved or been a plastic response within our own species," George Washington University paleoanthropologist linkurl:Bernard Wood;http://home.gwu.edu/~bwood/ told __The Scientist__. Wood, who was not involved with either study, added that the papers raise important questions regarding the evolutionary origins of __H. floresiensis__ that only further research can answer. __H. floresiensis__ was a hominin--the taxonomic group...

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