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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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  • by pholower (739868) * <(longwoodtrail) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:27PM (#10645634) Homepage Journal
    I find it interesting that they could have possibly intereacted with modern humans and their "species" could have overlapped with ours, but I agree with the scientist arguing over naming a new species. Let's rule out any major speculation before we go naming new evolutionary tree branches.
  • by fatmonkeyboy (257833) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:27PM (#10645646) Homepage
    However, if they were smart enough to find a way to this island, couldn't they just do another island-hoping to a bigger island like Sumantra, or even Australia?

    Well, maybe they did...but that doesn't debunk the theory. Europeans found their way to the Americas, but there are still Europeans in Europe.
  • Not too surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Camel Pilot (78781) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:32PM (#10645713) Homepage Journal
    When you have some species like Canine's that range in size from Mastif to Chihuahua
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:42PM (#10645848)
    Parent would be "insightful" if (and this is one big if) these "Hobbits" had been breeded for size (like canines). Dogs wouldn't have quite the range in size if it weren't for selective (and overseen) breeding for the course many many generations.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @02:46PM (#10645899) Homepage Journal
    Maybe these tiny people have some kind of sickness (or just look tiny), and were therefore exiled from the main(is)land?

    And this sickness also made their arms proportionately longer, created more prominent bone ridges above their eyes, gave them a sharply sloping forehead, and no chin? And it affected at least seven known individuals in the same way over a span of 30,000 of years, with no known fossil evidence of any "normal" hominids co-existing on the same island in that time?

    Riiiight...
  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:01PM (#10646111) Homepage Journal
    Canines were deliberately bred like that. No dog is the direct product of nature evolution but rather is the direct product of human breeding programs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:03PM (#10646134)
    That's why I believe the universe was created in the 70's.
  • Re:Frodo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:19PM (#10646339)
    Tolkein fans unite! We've found Frodo and friends!

    Hobbits, are you crazy? Someone has clearly been reading too much Tolkein. Read the article: they were found in CAVES. So obviously, we're not dealing with hobbits, but dwarves.

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:29PM (#10646468)
    In africa, you have some of the tallest tribes in the world in close proximity to some of the shortest. The difference in their environments is not the heat -- the heat is constant -- but rather the humidity. In areas where the humidity is high, being larger does you no good. Sweat won't evaporate so the extra surface area isn't useful.

    In areas where the humidity is lower, being taller is a great way to help get rid of excess heat.

    However that may not be what's going on on this island at all.

    The other lifeforms are textbook examples of foster's rule in action. Foster's rule is the maxim that states that creatures isolated on a small island will experiece dramatic changes in size (or die, adapt or die).

    So, for instance, the pygmy elephants got smaller than the elephants they started as because there simply wouldn't have been enough vegatation on the island to support them otherwise. There was EXTREME selective pressure to get smaller, so it happened fast.

    Meanwhile, because nothing was around to eat these pygmy elephants, those komodo dragons that were born larger than the others were significantly more fit becuase they might be able to exploit the elephants as a food source (which they did -- they sustained themselves on the elephants until they went extinct, at which time humans brought deer to the islands thus providing them with a new food source).

    One creature had selective pressure to get bigger, another to get smaller. In *general*, Foster's rule is that things will get smaller. But occasionally (such as in the example above), the rule can work in reverse.
  • Re:non-human? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:46PM (#10646651)

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

    I assume that by "human" you mean the species Homo sapiens. The shape of the skull, dentition, the shape of the tibia, all point to it not being H. sapiens. In fact, there is some debate over whether it belongs in the genus Homo at all.

    >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.

    No, it is not. This would require an even greater speciation event than the idea that they are descended from H. erectus through isolation and time. To state that it is more probable that they are simply mutant H. sapiens shows both your ignorance of biology and your creationist indoctrination.

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

    That's because they aren't a new species. Height is not the issue here. Try to learn just a little bit of comparative hominid anatomy before making yourself look a fool.

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

    This is just standard creationist bullshit. You are impugning the reputation of scientific professionals you have never met on the basis of absolutely ZERO evidence. The implication of your statement is that they have knowingly falsified data to obtain money. Please immediately post a link to any kind to support for your slander or retract it. You are simply repeating the creationist lies you have been taught. Read some actual science texts about hominid evolution, comparative anatomy, and paleoanthropology.

    I thought about modding this idiot with another Troll point, but what's the point of having karma if you can't burn some of it flaming an obvious moron.
  • Re:Spoiler Warning (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:49PM (#10646682) Homepage
    Obviously they had to go "to" the Grey Havens at least once- they lived in the Shire, and the port was pretty far away.

    So, does Ludicrously Literal Rationalization beat Tolkien Minutia? Let's ask whoever issues the geek cards...
  • by wicka_wicka (679279) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @03:58PM (#10646772)
    Short? Long arms? Brain the size of a chimpanzee? Put it together now...
  • by smallfeet (609452) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:25PM (#10647041) Journal
    Sure, why not? You think people have changed that much in 18K years? And they are calling them hominid, which means they are at least as human as the [insert your favorite group name here]

  • easy, there (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dr_davel (594449) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:25PM (#10647054) Homepage
    The description of the hobbits (brain case 1/3 the size of humans, similar to chimps; thick brow ridge; no chin; different proportions of limbs) makes it certain that it's another species, descended in a branch somehow parallel to homo sapiens. They have found many adult specimens (not children). What I'm wondering is, why would one react so negatively to this rather unavoidable conclusion? It's a really fascinating, exciting find!
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:33PM (#10647130)
    Actually, yes. I think they all live in America, too. With parents teaching stuff like that, it's little wonder kids in this country are so poorly educated.
  • You're right! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:36PM (#10647167) Homepage
    Yes, "real" religion where people continue to do the same things they'd do without God. Here in the states, "living in sin" only includes homosexuality, while in reality it should include alcoholism, addiction, lust, covetous behavior, and not giving your heave offering. Once again, a culture has adapted certain rules from a religion in order to justify their actions. The Jews extracted ideas from Zoroastrianism. The Romans codified and extracted ideas from Christianity. The only culture that follows the full word of their religious text is

    "Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own." -JFK, 1961

    That was forty three years ago. 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.

    Once you find your spiritual pockets empty, think about how many resources arrive at the dead-end of church building while the true salvation of food, medicine, and science wither throughout the third world.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @04:41PM (#10647220) Homepage
    I'm so tired of quack science making it into the mainstream.

    They say that they're 'surprised' that despite the small brain size, they appeared to be quite smart. This is contrary to what we know: brain size seems to have little correlation with intelligence amongst modern humans that are not defective, and there's strong fossil evidence for ancestoral species having fairly large brains as well.

    Also, there's no accounting for the construction of the pyramids with modern man's intelligence/knowledge, so there must've been smart humans at that time as well. Maybe not technologically advanced as we'd see things, but certainly inventive and observant of the world around them.

    It also sounds nuts to me that they'd claim this is an entirely different species. It seems to me that it's just as much a seperate species as blacks are a different species than whites, or what have you. They're still fundamentally human, and can co-populate with other humans. Granted, there's no direct evidence that this was possible, but it seems possible. There are plenty of 4-foot-tall humans today.
  • Re:non-human? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @05:36PM (#10647764)

    >I guess I'm a creationist now, I'm glad someone had the decency to tell me.

    Are you claiming that you originated the toughts you posted? I have never encountered anyone voicing the blather you posted who did not have an a priori belief in creationism. There is not one "criticism you posted that has an ounce of support for it.

    >Maybe you are afraid to admit that evolutionary science is full of holes,

    Hardly! Please list some of these alleged holes. I would absolutely love to find one. I figure that it would be worth a Nobel Prize and life tenure at Harvard or Stanford. Seriously. My only frustration is with religious zealots trying to shoehorn their fundamentalist dogma into science classrooms.

    I notice that you do not deny being a creationsist. If you are going to try to pretend that your bushwah actually passes for scientific thought, you should read some actual science. That way you won't sound like a luddite. I seriously doubt that you have heard "many" people who are not creationists criticize scientific researchers for leaps of faith. That statement is another staple of the creationist propaganda mill, as is the posture of wounded innocence that you affect. Save it for someone who hasn't seen it hundreds of times. As for religion, I have no quarrel with it until it enters the science classroom. On a personal level, I regard Biblical Litteralism and its offspring, creationism as heresy.
  • by Colonel Cholling (715787) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @05:37PM (#10647772)
    No dog is the direct product of nature evolution but rather is the direct product of human breeding programs.

    Er, sorry, no. Dogs are the product of natural evolution, which includes human breeding programs. In other words, dogs as a species changed in various ways affected by their living in proximity to, and interacting with, humans. This is no less "natural" than, say, predators and prey developing different ways to catch/evade each other, or symbiotic species developing a dependence on each other. The idea that "nature" somehow stops once you get to humans, and everything we do is its own separate domain, is misleading.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:33PM (#10648360)
    In africa, you have some of the tallest tribes in the world in close proximity to some of the shortest. The difference in their environments is not the heat -- the heat is constant -- but rather the humidity. In areas where the humidity is high, being larger does you no good. Sweat won't evaporate so the extra surface area isn't useful.

    This sounds dubious. I'd argue in favor of nutrition.

    Different tribes may have different diets which could account for the growth differential.

    Look at Japan. The older generation is smaller than the current one, because the younger generation is better fed than the previous ones.

    You can also observe this in the richer, coastal large cities of Mainland China.
  • by return_of_ffalcon (803789) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:09PM (#10648659)
    In areas where the humidity is high, being larger does you no good. Sweat won't evaporate so the extra surface area isn't useful.
    Being larger doesn't give you more surface area, it gives you less! (at least in relation to your body mass, which is what matters).
  • by juhaz (110830) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @10:25PM (#10649902) Homepage
    Also, there's no accounting for the construction of the pyramids with modern man's intelligence/knowledge, so there must've been smart humans at that time as well.

    WTF? Pyramids were built no more than 5000 years ago, and the people who did were definitely the same as we still are and just as smart. Now, if you can find me a pyramid built by non-homo sapiens sapiens hominid, that's certaily big news...

    It also sounds nuts to me that they'd claim this is an entirely different species.

    And what reasons you have to believe it isn't? Are you a morphologist? Anthropologist? Any kind of experience with studying remains (preferably human) at all? Seen the skull, have you (no, the picture on article doesn't count)? Ah. Thought so.

    It seems to me that it's just as much a seperate species as blacks are a different species than whites, or what have you. They're still fundamentally human, and can co-populate with other humans. Granted, there's no direct evidence that this was possible, but it seems possible. There are plenty of 4-foot-tall humans today.

    They're human, that's what genus Homo is all about, but they're definitely entirely different species as well. What seems to you, or me, or anyone that isn't a fricking skull expert doesn't mean a thing, because we don't know a crap about it. Show skulls of black, white, a pygmy, and one from 4-foot-tall human to boot to someone who knows what they're doing, and (s)he'll instantly regognize them all to be modern humans, show this and he'll say it isn't. WHO ARE YOU TO ARGUE THAT HE'S WRONG, AND YOU'RE RIGHT? Especially considering you say it yourself: no evidence, not just direct but you don't have any evidence whatsoever.

    You, sir, are the quack here. You're the whole fricking definition of a quack, you make up something, and then you blame the people who actually have evidence, considerable amount of them, to be quacks based on ... nothing.
  • by neoshroom (324937) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @11:48PM (#10650441)
    What I believe he means is that dogs are not the product of natural selection, but rather a product of artificial selection.


    This situation is fundimentally different from the evolution of dogs because there was no 3rd party species to artificially select for traits in humans. When artificially selecting certain traits it is much easier to speed along evolution, resulting in vastly different traits being exibited by the same species. Here it looks like natural selection created these traits, requiring more time and making us expect species-level differences.


    I do, however, share your fear of the word natural and conversly, unnatural. We tend to misappropriate this word to justify all sorts of neferious undertakings.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @09:46AM (#10653440)


    > Yes. And there are also modern humans who still think that humans descended from apes.

    Humans are apes. Unless your parents aren't human, you did descend from apes.

  • by mefus (34481) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:38AM (#10654949) Journal
    All kinds of mutations can come about from several generations of inbreeding.

    Inbreeding is not a cause of mutations. Inbreeding merely reduces diversity within the gene pool. A small population with uniform selective pressure exerted on it might also exhibit more rapid genetic drift toward a new norm.

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