Homo floresiensis and palaeoanthropology

Human evolution specialist Darren Curnoe writes about the latest in the Homo florensiensis debate and what it may mean for paleoanthropology.

Homo floresiensis, The Conversation 20130211

Homo floresiensis, The Conversation 20130211

Saga of ‘the Hobbit’ highlights a science in crisis
The Conversation, 11 February 2013

To state the obvious: human evolution is not without its drama – and the latest salvo in the ongoing Hobbit, or Homo floresiensis, battle confirms this yet again.

The 2004 announcement of Homo floresiensis – dubbed “the Hobbit” – marked the beginning of a saga all too frequent in the rarefied field of human evolution.

Immediately upon its announcement, anthropologists divided along long-entrenched party lines to support or oppose the find as something novel to science.

Is it a highly unusual new species? Or just a diseased modern human?

Last year saw articles clashing over whether the Liang Bua Cave specimens were simply modern human cretins: neither side gave any ground.

The latest cannonade from the “pro” camp marks the beginning of the 2013 battle: the highly unusual anatomy of the wrist bones of a second Hobbit individual.

The findings themselves are important, but the debate about Homo floresiensis is also fundamental because of what it tells us about the science of human evolution – a discipline in deep conceptual crisis.

Full story here.

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