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

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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