The Hobbit’s dental work

In an interesting twist to the hotly-debated Hobbit saga, a new book claims that the Hobbit remains appear to have had some dental work on them, overturning the supposed antiquity of the bones and thus, the new species theory.

Did the Flores Hobbit Have a Root Canal?
Scientific American, 18 April 2008

Hobbit ‘had been to dentist’
The Australian, 19 April 2008

The tooth, and nothing but
The Australian, 19 April 2008

The new book, The Hobbit Trap: Money, Fame, Science and the Discovery of a ‘New Species’, is written by Maciej Henneberg, a professor of biological anthropology and comparative anatomy at the University of Adelaide, and John Schofield.

And a scientist’s claim that the discolouration points to the presence of modern dental work in a tooth thought to be 18,000 years old threatens to widen and deepen a chasm that has opened in the international anthropology community since the discovery of the fossils of a tiny human, dubbed the hobbit, in an Indonesian cave in 2003.

The explosive claim appears in a yet to be published book, The Hobbit Trap, by University of Adelaide professor of anthropology and comparative anatomy Maciej Henneberg. If proven correct, the hypothesis will turn to dust the claims made by international scientists, including Australians Mike Morwood and Peter Brown of the University of New England, and Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong.

The argument rests largely on the discolouration of the molar, however, so I doubt this new revelation is going to seriously sway supporters from the other side of the camp. Chief among the critics of this new book is that the tooth physically shows no sign of dental work; it also appears that the author Henneberg has had very public debates with Peter Brown, one of the discoverers of the Hobbit skeleton.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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