Friday, September 05, 2008

Reevaluation of the Palau Small-Bodied Human Remains: "Berger Got It Wrong."

Science Daily is reporting on a study done by archaeologists from three different universities, University of Oregon, North Carolina State University and the Australian National University, who claim that Lee Berger's contention that the Palau remains are those of primitive, dwarf-sized humans is in error:

"Our evidence indicates the earliest inhabitants of Palau were of normal stature, and it counters the evidence that Berger, et al, presented in their paper indicating there was a reduced stature population in early Palau," said University of Oregon anthropologist Greg C. Nelson. "Our research from whole bones and whole skeletons indicates that the earliest individuals in Palau were of normal stature but gracile. In other words, they were thin."

They are also scathing on Berger's overall work in this area:

"I think Berger's primary mistakes were his not understanding the variation in the skeletal population in which he was working, using fragmentary remains again in a situation where he didn't understand variation, and stepping outside his own area of expertise, which, I think all scientists try not to do but sometimes we do," Nelson said.

"One of his biggest mistakes was rushing to publish," Nelson said of Berger. "He did not take the time to understand the area in which he was working -- its entire history, not just the skeletal stuff," he said. "Any time you work anywhere, you have to understand this history. You just can't walk in and cowboy it, pull some stuff out and draw conclusions in the absence of understanding the bigger picture."

One suspects that there is more here than meets the eye between these two groups of researchers. Berger has yet to respond and this story does not mention the evidence corroborating Berger's contentions from the island of Flores, although one suspects that this group will turn its attention to those remains now.

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