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“Hobbit” Dispute Takes Another Turn

on February 3, 2007

In last year’s August 26 News to Note, item #1, we reported on the then-latest classification status of skeletal remains discovered in 2003 on an Indonesian island. The remains, which are mostly from a single small human (now frequently referred to as a “hobbit”), were initially claimed as an extinct hominid species, Homo floresiensis. But three years later, an international research team concluded that the LB1 skull, as it’s been catalogued, instead belonged to a modern, dwarf human with microcephaly (an abnormally small, improperly developed head). This conclusion was partially an attempt to account for the “sophisticated tools and evidence of a fire” at the site.

Now there’s another twist: a Florida State University paleoneurologist claims the remains, dated to 18,000 years ago, really are from a different species. Dean Falk, whose team’s conclusions are published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined a “virtual endocast” of the “hobbit’s” braincase and compared it with “computer-generated reconstructions of nine microcephalic modern human brains and 10 normal modern human brains.” The result?

They found that certain shape features completely separate the two groups and that Hobbit classifies with normal humans rather than microcephalic humans in these features. In other ways, however, Hobbit's brain is unique, which is consistent with its attribution to a new species.

Thus, despite its small stature, it appears this hobbit may have had all the mental faculties of modern humans.

Interestingly, the researchers claim the hobbit’s brain is “highly evolved” and “advanced in a way that is different from living humans.” Thus, there’s no possibility evolutionists could claim this species (if it really should be classified as a separate species) as an evolutionary precursor to Homo sapiens. This leaves evolutionary scientists wondering the same things Falk is:

“It's the $64,000 question: Where did it come from?” she said. “Who did it descend from, who are its relatives, and what does it say about human evolution?”

Thus, despite its small stature, it appears this hobbit may have had all the mental faculties of modern humans. Whether or not it’s a separate species (originally defined to classify reproductive compatibility, though the definition has since grown stricter) may be tossed around for awhile (as with Neandertals); however, tool- and fire-making evidence indicates that this hobbit was likely a descendant of Adam and Eve.

Should this surprise Bible-believing Christians? Certainly not! After all, the Bible speaks of giants, and the average height of modern-day people groups ranges substantially. This simply attests (along with many other features) to the incredible diversity of God’s original creation.

For more on the topic of human origins and anthropology, see our Anthropology and Apeman Q&A.

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