New hobbit study supports island dwarfism

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A new study based on CT scans of the hobbit skulls suggest that homo erectus may possibly have been an ancestor to homo floresiensis, and supports the theory that the reduction in size may have come about due to island dwarfism.

Homo floresiensis, The Conversation 20130211

Homo floresiensis, The Conversation 20130211

Brain size of Homo floresiensis and its evolutionary implications
Daisuke Kubo, Reiko T. Kono and Yousuke Kaifu
Proc. R. Soc. B 2013 280, 20130338, published 17 April 2013
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0338

The Real ‘Hobbit’ Had Larger Brain Than Thought
LiveScience, 16 April 2013

Hobbit Humans Had Big Brains
Discovery News, 16 April 2013

Researchers find ‘hobbit human’ had an orange-sized brain – and may have evolved from the first human species to walk fully upright
Daily Mail, 16 April 2013

Study backs ‘hobbit’ island dwarfism theory
BBC News, 17 April 2013

Brain size points to origins of ‘hobbit’
ABC Science, 17 April 2013

The origin of “hobbits” is revealed: study
The Korea Herald, 17 April 2013

Researchers back claim that Flores ‘hobbits’ grew smaller as they evolved
AFP, 17 April 2013

Hobbit’s Brain Size Holds Clues About Its Ancestor
National Geographic News, 18 April 2013
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The new face of the Hobbit

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A new facial reconstruction of Homo floresiensis was introduced last week at the Australian Archaeological Association’s annual conference and also made its rounds in the news media. Reconstructions of the hobbit have been commonplace, but what makes this face different is that Susan Hayes has published a paper on the reconstruction, explaining how and why this face was derived from the bones. Here’s a roundup of the news:

Reconstruction of Homo floresiensis, Susan Hayes, University of Wollongong

Reconstruction of Homo floresiensis, Susan Hayes, University of Wollongong

Hobbit face revealed
Cosmos, 10 December 2012

Real-Life ‘Hobbit’ Face Revealed
LiveScience, 10 December 2012

‘She’s not pretty’ – meet a real hobbit
The Age, 10 December 2012

The Flores Hobbit’s face revealed
The Conversation, 10 December 2012

What a hobbit REALLY looks like: Researchers reconstruct the face of Homo floresiensis
Daily Mail, 10 December 2012

New face for ancient ‘Hobbit’ unveiled
Illawara Mercury, 10 December 2012

Hobbit Face: Homo Floresiensis Researchers Reconstruct Facial Features Of Ancient Human
Huffington Post, 11 December 2012
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Banned from calling Homo Floresiensis the 'Hobbit'

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We’ve been referring to the Homo floresiensis as the ‘Hobbit’ since its discovery, but now it seems that the estate of J. R. R. Tolkien is legally blocking the use of the term – by preventing a public lecture in New Zealand from using the word ‘Hobbit’.

Hobbit makers ban uni from using ‘hobbit
3News, 24 October 2012
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Hobbits went Out of Africa a million years earlier?

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The Observer’s Science Editor has an update on the latest developments in Hobbit research – and how they might have been the first species out of Africa than the homo erectus. Of course, the usual caveats apply: future research will probably confirm or refute this hypothesis.

photo credit: Rosino

How a hobbit is rewriting the history of the human race
The Observer, 21 February 2010
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Wednesday Rojak #64 – The stolen and fading traditions edition

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This week’s rojak features the dying tradition of gong tuning in Vietnam, and a case of stolen tradition in a spat between Indonesia and Malaysia. And a special treat for those who missed the Hobbit Symposium earlier this year.
photo credit: roktobaren
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Hobbits from a seperate branch?

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Yet another paper lends support to the idea that the Flores Hobbit is a seperate species and not a deformed human. This time, a study uses cladistics, or the comparison of physical characteristics to determine ancestry, and determined through computer modelling that homo floresiensis split off from homo sapiens nearly two million years ago. Pretty exciting stuff because of the unexpectedly early date, which, if proven true from later finds, will force a rewrite of how we understand how early man came about and populated the earth. However, as with all the hobbit studies previously published, we’ve still been looking at only one set of bones. I think what we really need now is some independent confirmation in the form of another hobbit find.

photo credit: Ryan Somma

Hobbit early off the family tree: New research
ANU Media Release, 31 July 2009

Humans, Flores ‘hobbits’ existed together: study
ABC News, 2 August 2009
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More on the hobbit foots and hippo skulls

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Two papers published in nature last week lended more credence to the theory that the Indonesian Hobbit, homo floresiensis, is a separate species (for the reports of the two studies, read here). Here are some more news reports, videos and podcasts that have featured the latest hobbit studies.

Small Brain Of Dwarf ‘Hobbit’ Explained By Hippo’s Island Life

Science Daily, 08 May 2009

Science Friday Podcast: The Hobbit debate

Science Friday, 08 May 2009

“Hobbits” Not Good Runners; Proof of New Human Species?

National Geographic, 08 May 2009

Hippo’s island life helps explain dwarf hobbit (w/Video), 07 May 2009

Nature podcast: Mini Hippos and Mini Men
Nature, 07 May 2009

Indonesian ‘hobbit’ confirmed to be a new species

The Telegraph, 07 May 2009

Hobbits May Belong on New Branch of Our Family Tree
Wired Science, 06 May 2009