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The island of Flores, Indonesia, was the discovery site of fossil adult humans just three feet tall with a cranial capacity of about 380 cubic centimeters. Their scientific name is Homo floresiensis. However, they have been nicknamed “hobbits,” after the stars of the Lord of the Rings saga by Tolkien.
The discoverers, reporting in Nature in 2004, claimed that these fossils represented a new human species. Stone tools were associated with the fossils, and there was evidence both of hunting and of the controlled use of fire. The estimated number of fossil individuals is nine, and the estimated dates of these fossils range from 12,000 years to 95,000 years ago.
Ever since their discovery, these fossils have been the center of intense controversy.Ever since their discovery, these fossils have been the center of intense controversy. In contrast to the discoverers’ claim that these fossils represent a new human species, a second theory gaining popularity is that these fossils do not represent a new human species but instead were dwarfs or pigmies possibly suffering from microcephaly, having abnormally small bodies and brains.
This debate’s newest study, led by Dean Falk (Florida State University), was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was based upon casts and computer reconstructions of the one hobbit fossil skull available (brains do not fossilize) compared to nine microcephalic brains and ten normal human brains. Falk and her team claim that the hobbit skull indicates that its brain does not resemble the microcephalics, but instead resembles normal human brains. Thus, they conclude that the hobbits do represent a new human species.
However, the study has been criticized by other scientists for the following reasons: (1) it is not wise to base an interpretation on just one sample. More hobbit fossils are needed to settle the matter; (2) Ralph Holloway (Columbia University) states that although the hobbit skull may not have microcephalic morphology (shape), it does seem to indicate other brain abnormalities; (3) another researcher states that the size sample in the study was too small. It should have had at least thirty specimens for comparison, including some aboriginal peoples (pigmies) living in the region where the hobbit was found; and (4) since the one hobbit skull available for study was an adult, the study should not have had five microcephalic children among the nine microcephalics used for comparison (Science, 2 February 2007, p. 583).
There is confusion in understanding the true nature of these hobbit fossils results when Dr. Falk claims that “... it represents another species of Homo” (Science, 2 February 2007, p. 583). What does that mean? Falk and other evolutionists seldom tell us. The problem is that the current evolutionary definition of species is different from what most people, using common sense, would expect it to be. Hence Falk’s statement is mystifying to readers. Let me illustrate.
Let’s assume that we have solved the necessary technological problems, and that we have been able to establish a community of thousands of people living on the moon. Space vehicles continually travel back and forth carrying both supplies and humans. Obviously, since those people on the moon all came from earth, they belong to the very same species as we do here on earth—Homo sapiens sapiens.
Now, let’s suppose that, for some reason, all future space travel between the earth and the moon becomes impossible. There is no longer any genetic interchange between the people on the earth and the people on the moon. Because the people on the moon would be a self-contained breeding population independent from us, they would be considered a new species according to the evolutionary definition of the term. It does not matter that their DNA would be indistinguishable from ours. Because the earth people and the moon people would be two independent breeding populations, they could be classified by evolutionists as two separate species.
Closer to home is the case of two squirrel populations at Grand Canyon, Arizona—one population on the north rim of the canyon, the other population on the south rim. If placed together, these two populations could readily interbreed. However, the Grand Canyon presents a barrier impossible for either population to cross. Hence they are classified as two different species. The assumption by evolutionists is that since each population of squirrels will experience different mutations and will have different selection pressures over many tens of thousands of years, the time will come when they will be different enough so that they would not be able to interbreed even if they were placed together. Genetic isolation because of geographic isolation is one way evolutionists believe that new species are created.
This is what Falk and her associates believe happened to the hobbits.
Previous studies had concluded that the hobbits were humans like us but with severe brain deformities. Falk’s study contradicts the former studies. Falk’s group claims that the hobbit brain fell neatly into the normal human group used for comparison, not with the microcephalic sample. However, because the hobbits are so very small in both body and brain, Falk says that they must be a new human species. Their being on an Indonesian island, isolated from all other humans on earth, resulted in their evolving into a new human species.
It should be obvious that Falk and her team, based upon their theory of how species are created, are “creating” this new human species. Even if evolution were true, the island of Flores is too small to have maintained an isolated population for long enough to allow the evolution of a new species, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University (NewScientist, 26 August 2006, p. 7).
The Bible does not use the word “species.” It is a word in the scientific vocabulary that does not adequately describe life as God created it. The word “species” has a very different meaning from the Genesis word “kind.” Regarding humans, God created one man, Adam. From Adam, God created Eve. From this pair, all humans have descended—mankind or humankind. Paul states: “From one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth ...” (Acts 17:26).
The fact that Falk and her team, using a humanistic philosophy, call the hobbits “another species of Homo” is meaningless. Evolutionists cannot prove that the hobbits were unable to reproduce with Homo sapiens, and interfertility is the basis for true biological relationships according to the Bible. Whether or not the hobbits were pathological or geographically isolated does not make them any less human. God made only one kind of human.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.