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.