3D analysis indicates Hobbit was not human

January 21st, 2009 - 2:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 21 (ANI): Using a 3D analysis, a scientist has determined that the fossil of a species found in Indonesia in 2003, popularly called the Hobbit, is not human.

The scientist in question is Karen Baab, a researcher in the Department of Anatomical Scienes at Stony Brook University, US.

Baab and her team did a 3D analysis of the size, shape and asymmetry of the cranium of Homo floresiensis.

They found the found the shape of the skull of the hobbit to be consistent with a scaled down human ancestor, but not modern humans.

Their findings add to the evidence that the hobbit is a new species.

Some scientists claim the hobbit was a diminutive human that suffered from some type of disease that causes microcephaly, which results in abnormal growth of the brain and causes the cranium to be much smaller than the normal human cranium.

But, Dr. Baab and co-author Kieran McNulty, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, believe their findings counter the microcephaly theory.

A skull can provide researchers with a lot of important information about a fossil species, particularly regarding their evolutionary relationships to other fossil species, explained Dr. Baab.

The overall shape of the LB1 skull, particularly the part that surrounds the brain (neurocranium) looks similar to fossils more than 1.5 million years older from Africa and Eurasia, rather than modern humans, even though Homo floresiensis is documented from 17,000 to 95,000 years ago, she added.

To carry out the study, Dr. Baab and colleagues collected 3D landmark data on the LB1 skull and a large sample of fossils representing other extinct hominin species, as well as a comparative sample of modern humans and apes.

They performed several analyses of different regions of the skulls.

Taken together, these analyses indicated that the LB1 skull shape is that of a scaled down Homo fossil not a scaled down modern human.

According to Dr. Baab, the controversy as to the evolutionary origins of Homo floresiensis will continue, perhaps without an answer.

However, all the evidence that she and colleagues have gathered indicate that Homo floresiensis was most likely the diminutive descendant of a species of archaic Homo. (ANI)

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