Monday, October 02, 2006

Flores again

An article has appeared in the September 5 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2006, vol. 103(36): 13421-13426) by Jacob et al. called "Pygmoid Australomelanesian Homo sapiens skeletal remains from Liang Bua, Flores: Population affinities and pathological abnormalities," arguing that the hominid remains from the island of Flores are not the remains of a new hominid/hominin species (whew!) . I can't provide a link because this article is behind a subscription wall. The authors write:

Our reexamination of the original skeletal material shows that there is insufficient morphological or metric evidence for a new hominin species on Flores, where evolution over millenia in total isolation is unproved, unlikely, and at variance with Stegodon migrations and glacial geology.

The authors further remark that the morphology of the remains:

...exhibits a combination of characters that are not primitive but instead regional, not unique but found in other modern human populations, particularly some still living on Flores, and not derived but strikingly disordered developmentally.

This will make Jonathan Hawks happy. I am guessing there will be rebuttals to this paper, especially given the bad blood between Jacob and the original discovery team.

Hat tip to Art Durband.

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