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Science

New Hominid Species Unearthed in Indonesia 588

Posted by michael
from the nasty-hobbitses dept.
Radical Rad writes "ABC News is reporting that anthropologists have found the skeletal remains of seven hobbit sized hominids. The population may have been wiped out by a volcanic activity 12000 years ago or according to local legend may have lived up until the 1500's living on in caves and eating food the villagers would leave out for them. Also found were bones of giant lizards and miniature elephants. CBS also has the story." National Geographic and the BBC have good stories.
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New Hominid Species Unearthed in Indonesia

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  • Re:This is so stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:36PM (#10645763) Homepage Journal
    everyone knows the world was created 6000 years ago.

    To be precise, on Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC, at 9:00 AM [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:non-human? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:41PM (#10645828)
    RTFA

    How can these researchers say for certain that these remains are of anything other than humans?

    The skulls are not similar to modern humans, but are similar to Homo Erectus, from which these creatures are thought to descend.

    It is more probable that these remains represent a small group of homo sapiens that had genetic development problems, or some other kind of ailment.

    See above. It is often debatable whether or not unique features (in this case size) represent a continum or a distinct species. It is not an exact science, and we may never know for sure. However, there is no other example of an adult human being so small.

    Pygmies exist in Africa today, but are not considered a new species.

    Pygmies are considerbly taller then these "hobbits". Also Pygmies are modern humans, the "hobbits" were not.

    This report is more about research scientists getting more grant money than actually using the scientific method.

    The findings are being reported in Nature, which has exceedingly high standards. There is absolutely no reason to make such accusations.
  • Re:Spoiler Warning (Score:3, Informative)

    by paco3791 (786431) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:02PM (#10646117) Journal
    please turn your geek card in at the door on your way out.

    The Grey Havens is the name of the elvish port where Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf and a contingent of elves left FROM when they departed middle earth in search of Aman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aman [wikipedia.org], the land of the Valar, across the great western sea.

  • by tabdelgawad (590061) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:09PM (#10646191) Homepage
    Umm, not sure why this is modded funny ...

    In this Washington Post Writeup" [washingtonpost.com], they clearly refer to the "island rule: animals smaller than rabbits get larger; animals larger than rabbits get smaller."

  • Ahoy! (Score:5, Informative)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:13PM (#10646244)
    Theeeere's my rejected submission...

    More information on these hobbit-sized wonders can be found at Scientific American which runs a Q&A with Dr. Brown [sciam.com]. As expected, it's a bit more in-depth than "Hobbits Found!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:03PM (#10646815)
    And how many individuals have Down's syndrome? If you went to a cemetary and started randomly digging up skeletons how many of them would conform to Down's syndrome?

    The incoherence is in proposing that an aberation happened in all cases, which by its very definition would make it no longer an aberation.

    They have found normal human skeletons on the island, but they are all found after a particular striatic layer, and all of the small skeletons have been found previous to that striatic layer (a volcanic eruption ash layer which also demarcates the disappearance of other large mammals on that island).

    You can make the argument that they have randomly uncovered aberrant skeletons but after several have been have been uncovered the odds of your being correct become vanishingly small.
  • by Camel Pilot (78781) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:13PM (#10646919) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but they could not be "deliberately bred like that" unless the genetic variation existed within the genome.

    In reference to the wolf [swipnet.se]
    The differences in size within the species is quite considerable. The biggest is the American timber wolf which grows to a height of over 90 cm, and can weigh up to 80 kg. The Fenno-scandinavian wolf is of average size, height 70 cm and weighs 40 - 50 kg (the record for Sweden was a male wolf that weighed in at 75 kg). They are a little smaller in the south of Europe, weighing about 25 kg.
  • by cplusplus (782679) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:30PM (#10647096) Journal
    More info on Piltdown Man: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/piltdown.html [talkorigins.org]
  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:55PM (#10647395)
    You joke, but you're actually correct. What you describe is a biological phenomenon observed on many island ecosystems called Foster's rule.

    In short, it dictates that animals coming from a continent that are large, will get smaller when isolated on an island -- animals that are small, will tend to get larger.
  • by Kamerynn (726494) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @05:29PM (#10647711)
    There is a big mistake in the article. Flores is roughly half the size of Belgium, or +- 14 000 sq km.

    So either it is another island they are talking about (possibly in the vicinity of Flores) or their 31sq km figure should read 31 thousand sq km (not likely given the importance of the small size of the island that explains their evolution to a small skeleton).

    You can see a detailed map or the archipelago here:

    http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/scalenet/images/indon esia.gif [usda.gov]

    Flores is approximately at 9S 122E

  • Re:This is so stupid (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:05PM (#10649046)
    This is neither funny nor insightful.
    This is simply flamebait.
    Here's the proof
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,95 4018,00.html [guardian.co.uk]
  • Re:You're right! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lady Jazzica (689768) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:25PM (#10649172)
    I'm always astonished that people refuse to realize that supernatural events have never, and will never exist. No one can present to me one miracle documented by modern technology and not hearsay.

    Nowadays any miracle approved by the Vatican, in the process of canonizing a saint, has had to go through rigorous scientific inquiry. For a miracle to be accepted as authentic, there must be no scientific explanation for it.

    Here's an article [fortwayne.com] on the process, originally from the Los Angeles Times.

    I did a little search and found a case [honoluluadvertiser.com] that is still pending as far as I know: a possible miracle attributed to Father Damien, the famous priest who took care of lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii about a hundred years ago:
    Last year, the Honolulu Diocese assembled a tribunal to examine an O'ahu woman's story that her cancer was cured after she traveled to Moloka'i to pray at Damien's grave.


    The patient and her family members were among those who testified before the tribunal. Also testifying was Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang, a Honolulu physician - and non-Catholic - who wrote about the spontaneous regression of the woman's cancer in the October 2000 issue of Hawai'i Medical Journal.

    Chang wrote that a malignant tumor had developed in the patient's lung in September 1998 and then disappeared without the aid of therapy. The spontaneous regression of this type of cancer may be the first case report of its kind, the scientific paper said. Other doctors who treated the woman also testified.

    There were a lot of miraculous healings at Lourdes in France, so that might be something to investigate if you're interested. Here's an article on one such case:
    Authentication of a Cure at Lourdes [ewtn.com]
  • by geekotourist (80163) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:44PM (#10649287) Journal
    These are pygmy Homo erectus, not pygmy Homo sapiens, and the differences between the two are significant.

    Looking at Hominid species and their brain sizes [talkorigins.org], and the actual information about the fossils themselves [talkorigins.org], you can examine the differences.

    While the smallest of the small modern human overlaps with non-pygmy H. erectus, as written here [talkorigins.org]: "The low volume skulls were not primitive or aberrant in any way; their small volume was merely a result of the smallness of the entire skull. So although the extreme lower range of modern human brain sizes does overlap that of Homo erectus, their skulls are very different: in H. erectus, the brain case really is smaller in relation to the rest of the skull. In small modern humans, the skull proportions are normal and the brain size is small only because the skull is small." When you compare the two [talkorigins.org], (another example here [talkorigins.org], or look at a comparison of multiple Hominids here [talkorigins.org]) you can see that H. erectus isn't ever going to be mistaken for a small-skulled H. sapiens. The pygmy H. erectus has a brain that's half the size of a regular H. erectus. Floresiensis is smart and a tool/ fire user because Homo had been doing that for 2 million years, not because its a Homo sapiens.

    Summarizing species and brain sizes...

    1. Last common ancestor (Gorilla, Pan, Hominid)
    modern Gorilla (average 500 cc)

    2. Last common ancestor (Pan, Hominid)
    modern Chimp (average 400 cc)
    3. Australopithecus
    (375 to 550 cc)

    4. Homo habilis
    (500 to 800 cc)

    5. Homo erectus-> ->5a.Homo floresiensis
    (750 to 1225 cc) (380 cc)

    6.Homo antecessor
    | \ 6b. H.s. neanderthalensis (average 1450 cc)
    |
    6a. H. s. archaic
    (average 1200 cc)
    (sometimes called H. heidelbergensis)
    |
    7. Homo sapiens sapiens
    (average 1350 cc)

  • by barakn (641218) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:12AM (#10650601)
    From the article - "They add that characteristics seen in modern people who have pathologies causing a small brain were not evident in the ancient remains." I.e. if they were anomolous Homo sapiens, then one would expect their anomoly to be an anomoly found in Homo sapiens. It's not, so they're not.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:53PM (#10660510) Homepage
    I don't know who the hell either of those people are, but I do know a couple things about the Giza pyramid. Calling it an "exquisite heap of stone" is pedantically ignorant on your part.

    - It's composed of over 2 million blocks of stone, over 2 tons each. Many of them are over 20,000 tons - all this despite the fact that there is no substantial amount of stone or anywhere to quary it from for over 100 miles. Keep in mind that our best cranes today can lift a mere 3,000 tons.
    - It was 481 ft high at the time of construction. That's 1/3rd the height of the Empire State Building.
    - It took approximately 10 years to build without using anything approaching what we'd call 'modern' machinery, to our knowledge, and weighs a total of 7 million tons (estimated) from 3 different types of stone (limestone, basalt, granite). The Empire State Building only took roughly 1/7th of that amount of time, weighing in at 365,000 tons, and took as many as 3,000 workers at any given time, despite having such modern conveniences as locomotion. Keep in mind that none of our modern day cranes would be able to even come close to lifting one of the 20,000 ton stones used in the Giza pyramid's construction. Ironically, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in Mexico is larger in volume still than the Giza pyramid.
    - The horizontal cross section of the pyramid is square at any level, with each side measuring 751 feet
    - There are areas within the giza pyramid that have hyroglyphs and odd structural design that, given our understanding of how the pyramids were made, could not have been made or put in place during building (in a vulnerable area) or after building (dark, enclosed area, and no soot on walls), and thus must've been fully constructed and put in place as a module.
    - The ground area covered by the Giza pyramid alone is enough to accommodate St Peter's in Rome, the cathedrals of Florence and Milan, and Westminster and St Paul's in London combined.
    - The entire interior of the pyramids are harmonically tuned. (That's a physical characteristic, mind you, not some crazy new age nonsense.)
    - It was constructed directly on the Earth's equator (which was 30 south of the current magnetic pole at that logitude) and is a mirror of heavenly bodies - which, at the time of construction, wouldn't reach the alignment made on the ground for another couple thousand years.
    - Originally, and up until the last 500 years or so, there was a 20+ ton stone door which could be pushed open from the inside with all the strength required to flex a single finger. From the outside when the door was closed, it was inperceiveable that there was even a crack in the stone, let alone a 20-ton slab of it. There was a study done on the stone used for this door, and it was shown that it would cost hundreds of millions dollars to reach such precision even now, just for the door alone. It wasn't just the door which was milled in such a finite fashion - every stone within the walls of the pyramid were milled with the same precision.
    - The Pyramid lies in the center of focus of all of the continents. It lies in the exact center of all the land area of the world, dividing the earth's land mass into approximately equal quarters.
    - The Giza pyramid is geographically linked to nearly every major ancient holy place (including many that remain so - Stonehenge, St. Peters, Canterbury, throughout all 6 habitable continents. Each of these sites is on a point on a pythagorean triangle (ratio 3:4:5) grid which covers the earth, with the great pyramid as a point of origin.
    - If you were to draw a globe around the great pyramid, and draw it to touch the 3 points, the globe would be exactly 1:36th (I think that was the correct proportion) of the earth.
    - Every single measurement - including weight of the building components and the dimensions of each individual stone - is proportional to the exact measurement of the earth - which we've only figured out in the last 50 years, and only then with the assistance of satellites.

    Now, there are many additional

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