In a press release, George Washington University researchers have concluded the the remains from the island of Flores represent a new species of human.
GW researchers Adam Gordon, Lisa Nevell, and Bernard Wood developed a novel way to compare the shape of the "Hobbit's" skull with what the shape of modern human skulls would be like in individuals as small as the "Hobbit." Using these new methods, they have shown that the "Hobbit's" skull is shaped nothing like that of a modern human, whether or not size differences are taken into account. Instead, it is similar to our possible ancestors belonging to the species Homo erectus and Homo habilis found in Africa and the Republic of Georgia, which are about 1.7 million years old. This result is consistent with the most recent analyses of the skeleton that also suggest it was similar to older species.
"What's interesting about this is that the 'Hobbit' doesn't closely resemble the younger Homo erectus material from Indonesia, arguing for an ancient divergence of this species from the lineage that produced modern humans," said Gordon, postdoctoral research fellow with GW's Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology. "We're looking at a different human lineage that split from our own possibly as much as 1.7 million years ago or more, and persisted up to the time when modern humans started peopling the Americas. That's pretty exciting."
This will fan the flames even more, although it is certainly getting harder to deny the very weird nature of these hominids.