You mean the Hobbit's a clown now?

In an off-tangent study of the diminutive bones from Flores, Indonesia, it turns out that the hobbit had flat, clown-like feet which probably limited it’s walking range (other than it’s, say, really short gait).

Homo floresiensis' deformed feet; New Scientist, 16 April 2008

Flores ‘hobbit’ walked more like a clown than Frodo
New Scientist, 16 April 2008

What does this find add to the current debate over whether the hobbit is an entirely new species or a deformed human?

The foot had other peculiar features as well. For one, its big toe was quite short compared with the others, similar to earlier hominids such as Australopithecus. However, the shape of the toes, even the short big toe, is like modern human ones, Jungers says. “It has a human morphology and an ape-like proportion,” he says.

Jungers and other researchers who claim the hobbit was a distinct species from Homo sapiens point to the foot as further evidence supporting their theory. It has been suggested that the hobbit suffered from a severe block to growth known as cretinism or a disease called microcephaly that leads to miniaturised heads.

More debates, of course, to follow…

Related Books:
Homo floresiensis and human equality: enduring lessons from Stephen Jay Gould.(Critical essay): An article from: Monthly Review
The size of scalable brain components in the human evolutionary lineage: With a comment on the paradox of Homo floresiensis [An article from: HOMO – Journal of Comparative Human Biology]
A big discovery about little people.: An article from: Science News for Kids
A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the “Hobbits” of Flores, Indonesia
Little People And a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery (Discovery!)

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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