‘Hobbit’ Fossils Represent A New Species, Concludes Anthropologist

By | December 22, 2008

University of Minnesota anthropology professor Kieran McNulty along with colleague Karen Baab of Stony Brook University in New York has made an important contribution toward solving one of the greatest paleoanthropological mysteries in recent history — that fossilized skeletons resembling a mythical “hobbit” creature represent an entirely new species in humanity s evolutionary chain. Discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 controversy has surrounded the fossilized hominid skeletons of the so-called “hobbit people ” or Homo floresiensis ever since. Experts are still debating whether the 18 000-year-old remains merely belong to a diminutive population of modern-day humans with one individual exhibiting “microcephaly ” an abnormally small head or represent a previously unrecognized branch in humanity s family tree. Using 3D modeling methods McNulty and his fellow researchers compared the cranial features of this real-life “hobbit” to those of a simulated fossil human of similar stature to determine whether or not such a species was distinct from modern humans. ” Homo floresiensis is the most exciting discovery in probably the last 50 years ” said McNulty. “The specimens have skulls that resemble something that died a million years earlier and other body parts reminiscent of our three-million-year-old human ancestors yet they lived until very recently — contemporaries with modern humans.”

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