Sad news to LotR fans – hobbit in Indonesia not a hobbit

It’s just a developmental abnormality, it seems. At least, that’s the argument being made by skeptics who don’t believe the hobbit find represents a new species (the Homo floresiensis if you don’t know already).  So still no proof one way or the other, but here’s a view from the disbelievers.

The bizarre “hobbit” bones unearthed a few years ago in Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores were billed as a rare find–a new species of human, Homo floresiensis (ScienceNOW, 11 October 2005). But a few critics weren’t buying. Now in a report released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the skeptics lay out a detailed case arguing that the leading hobbit specimen, a one-meter-tall, 18,000-year-old skeleton with a brain the size of a grapefruit, was merely a diseased Homo sapiens.

“This is not a new species,” says co-author Robert Eckhardt of Pennsylvania State University in State College. “This is a developmentally abnormal individual.”

The team uses several lines of evidence to challenge the hobbit’s novelty. For example, they point out that elephants apparently colonized the island twice. Because even early hominids presumably had better travel skills than elephants, humans probably also arrived on the island more than once; lack of isolation would have prevented the evolution of a new dwarf species, they say.

Full argument in the ScienceNow article.

[tags]Indonesian hobbit not a hobbit, Developmental abnormality explains apparent hobbit find in Indonesia[/tags]