In 2004, some partial skeletons and one complete skull were found in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. Discoverers proclaimed this was a specimen belonged to a new species, which was dubbed Homo floresiensis. Or, more popularly, “Hobbit Man” (due to its small size). A September 2010 PhysOrg.com article reported, “Robert Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Penn State, and Maciej Henneberg, Wood Jones professor of anthropological and comparative anatomy at the University of Adelaide, dispute that the skull represents a new species in the Aug. 31 issue of American Journal of Physical Anthropology. They believe instead that “the hobbit skull was actually from an abnormal Homo sapiens.” It was the asymmetry of the skull that led the discoverers to assume that they had found a new species. Normal human skull asymmetry is less than one percent. The “hobbit” skull, however, showed measurements of six percent or more. Eckhardt and Henneberg determined that this extreme ratio was indicative of “disordered development,” and of “not a new species, but a malformed human ancestor.” Those believing that the “hobbit” is a new species attributed the severe asymmetry to posterior deformational plagiocephaly (PDP), which results from excessive pressure on the head of a developing infant. But, “Eckhardt and Henneberg offer a rebuttal, pointing out that PDP occurs, in part, because of the way humans give birth—to relatively helpless newborns with soft skull bones. The twist is that evolutionists consider this form of birth to have developed later than the time when H. floresiensis supposedly diverged from the hominid line that allegedly developed into modern humans.” PDP, therefore, cannot explain the asymmetry and the evidence strongly points toward H. floresiensis merely being a malformed modern human, perhaps with microcephaly (as other research has indicated). “Eckhardt said that, aside from having a tiny brain, [the skull specimen] resembles the normal people who still live on Flores in many features (such as jaws and teeth)”. Eckhart candidly reveals that “many researchers in the field of paleoanthropology tend to favor differences as evidence of a new species rather than looking at characteristics as reflecting child development.” We see this same bias in Homo erectus, Neanderthal Man, and other so-called “missing links.” The structural features always fall within the normal range of modern human anatomy. Why the rush to proclaim a new species? There is a certain attraction for discovering and having one’s name attached to a new species. It doesn’t hurt the chances for grant money either.
Posted by: Rob Lester | July 27, 2011