Indonesian 'Hobbit' a tiny ancestor?

DENVER: Scientists working with powerful imaging computers say the spectacular 'Hobbit' fossil recently discovered in Indonesia had distinctive brain features that could justify its classification as a separate — and tiny — human ancestor.

       The report, published on Thursday in the online journal Science Express, seems to support the idea of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man spread across the planet. Detractors of the theory, however, said the computer models were unconvincing.

The new research produced a computer-generated model that compared surface impressions on the inside of the fossil skull with brain casts of modern and ancient humans, as well as chimps and other primates. The scientists said the model shows that the 90-cm specimen, nicknamed Hobbit, had a brain unlike anything they had seen before in recent human lineage.

The brain is chimplike in size, between 380 and 420 cubic centimeters. Despite being up to two-thirds smaller than a modern human brain, the Hobbit fossil's brain shared wrinkled surface features with the brains of both modern humans and Homo erectus, tool-making human ancestors that lived more than 1 million years ago, the researchers said. Some of those features are consistent with higher cognitive traits, they report. At the same time, they said the Hobbit brain was different from the brain of a modern human pygmy or a human with abnormal brain growth.

                                                                                        Funny, he doesn’t look Indonesian.

"This is something new," said Florida State University anthropologist Dean Falk, who led the study. "This discovery has flummoxed the field of anthropology." In October, scientists from Indonesia and Australia caused an international sensation with their report of a trove of fossils found in a cave on the equatorial island of Flores.

As many as seven tiny individuals were represented by the bones in layers that were dated from 95,000 to 12,000 years ago.

The Hobbit skeleton was the most complete specimen to be described.

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1041649.cms

 

My thoughts here…the first point that I would like to make, is that scientists are probably the geekiest people in the world without any exceptions. In fact, they probably all look like the picture on the right (Fig 1.1), or the picture below that (Fig 1.2). I bet these scientist guys just snickered when they nick-named it Hobbit—cute, real cute. So, instead of commenting on the story itself, I will focus on “The life of Mr. Scientist.”

Mr. Scientist, we hardly knew ye; we hardly wanted to.

Mr. Scientist was born in nowhere in particular to a family of little or no importance. His father was a nobody, and his mother sold shoes down at some place to no one in particular. Ever since he was a little nobody, Mr. Scientist was fascinated by bugs, lizards, or stamp collecting. It was his favorite hobby. As he grew up, he was continuously picked on for his glasses and his geeky demeanor—the fact that he always wore his “Alf” t-shirt everyday to school (Fig 1.3) had nothing to do with it. The other children used to complain that he smelled like kerosene, but that was because he left his shirt one weekend in the back of his father’s Pinto. From his demeanor and his fuming, woozy, inducing smell, the other children would never sit next to him at the lunch table—probably out of fear of nausea or social status declination. From his lack of attention, except from his momma, Mr. Scientist grew up without developing any social skills. When he got to high school, the only kids who hung out with him were the “stoners” for the same reason that the other kids stayed away. Upon graduating high school, he went off to study paleontology or some other nerdy sounding program. He eventually graduated with a doctorates or masters at the top of his class, and reached the pinnacle of his degree field later finding work for NASA, EPA, or some other 3 to 4 letter mnemonic company. He currently continues working on enlarging his bug, stamp, or “Alf” paraphernalia collection. On occasion, he is credited for finding and nick-naming midget skeletons he finds buried in the dirt. He currently still resides with his mother, and remains unmarried. If you would like to meet him, just sign online at AOL, Yahoo, or MSN and chat with him. His screen name is Big_and_Sexy@aol, yahoo, or msn.com. He enjoys long walks on the beach and the occasional sunset.

 

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Figure 1.1

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.3

 

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