MessageToEagle.com - The discovery of a small-bodied, small-brained hominin in Liang Bua
cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores and the ancestry of the
Homo floresiensis remains has long been debated.
This debate is still unresolved.
There are some critical questions and among them, the most important are:
Does Homo floresiensis represent a distinct Homo species, possibly originating from a dwarfed island Homo erectus
population, or a pathological modern human?
Did Homo floresiensis (nicknamed ‘Hobbit’) represent an extinct hominin species?
Archaeological excavations at Liang Bua cave,
Could it be a Homo erectus population, whose small stature was caused by
Or was the individual, to whom skull number LB1 (referred to Liang Bua 1), belonged, a modern human suffering from a pathology
which caused its very small brain and skull?
Proposed possible explanations include microcephaly, Laron Syndrome or endemic hypothyroidism.
The scientists applied the methods of 3D geometric morphometrics to analyze the shape of the LB1 cranium in the context
of both a large fossil human comparative sample, as well as a large sample of modern human crania suffering from
microcephaly and other pathological conditions.
Geometric morphometrics methods use 3D coordinates of cranial surface anatomical landmarks, computer imaging
and multivariate statistical analysis to achieve a detailed analysis of shape.
This was the most comprehensive study to date to simultaneously evaluate the two competing hypotheses about the
status of Homo floresiensis.
The hobbit’s face, according to a forensic facial approximation. University of Wollongong
The study found that the LB1 cranium shows greater affinities to the fossil Homo sample than it does to pathological
modern humans. Although some superficial similarities were found between fossil, LB1, and pathological modern human
crania, additional features linked LB1 exclusively with fossil Homo.
The team could therefore refute the hypothesis of pathology.
Hobbits on Flores, Indonesia
“Our findings provide the most comprehensive evidence to date linking the Homo floresiensis skull with extinct
fossil human species rather than with pathological modern humans."
"Our study therefore refutes the hypothesis that this specimen represents a modern human with a pathological
condition, such as microcephaly”, stated the authors.
The study is published in the July 10 edition of PLOS ONE.