Getting into the mind of the Indonesian hobbit

Earlier this year, a study by Dean Falk hoped to put to rest the homo floresiensis controversy by comparing casts of the homo floresiensis brain with that of other microcephalic humans. The results of the study showed that there were marked differences between the LB1 brain and the brain of the microcephalic human, inferring in turn that the hobbit was really something else.

While the verdict on the Hobbit is still up in the air, we take a segue and look at the method used for this study and at Ralph Holloway, the scientist who pioneered the method of making endocasts.

In Study of Brain Evolution, Zeal and Bitter Debate

While many anthropologists are convinced the Hobbit represents a new species of human, some argue vociferously that it is a microcephalic Homo sapiens with nothing new to say about evolution.Dr. Holloway said he was still “on the fence” about the controversy. “Homo floresiensis does not show any of the classic signs of microcephaly,” he said. “On the other hand, its brain does show a highly unusual degree of platycephaly,” a marked flattening of the brain. This could indicate that the Hobbit was suffering from some other sort of pathology.

Of course, the controversy still rages on and both sides have yet to fully address if homo floresiensis represents a sick human or a totally new species. In the meantime, you can read the feature of Ralph Holloway here.

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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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