Friday, March 04, 2005

DID HOBBITS ONCE WALK THE EARTH?

By Stockton

Yes, according to scientists.



'Hobbit' Brain Supports Species Theory

By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer

Scientists working with powerful imaging computers say the spectacular "Hobbit" fossil recently discovered in Indonesia had distinctive brain features that could justify its classification as a separate — and tiny — human ancestor.

The new report, published Thursday in the online journal Science Express, seems to support the idea of a sophisticated human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man proliferated.

The new research produced a computer-generated model that compared surface impressions on the inside of the fossil skull with brain casts of modern and ancient humans, as well as chimps and other primates.

The scientists said the model shows that the 3-foot specimen, nicknamed Hobbit, had a brain unlike anything they had seen before in the human lineage. The brain is chimplike in size, about 417 cubic centimeters.

Yet the Hobbit's brain shared wrinkled surface features with the much larger brains of both modern humans and Homo erectus, a tool-making ancestor that lived in southeast Asia more than 1 million years ago. Some of those brain features are consistent with higher cognitive traits.

These brain features coincide with physical evidence of advanced behaviors, such as hunting, firemaking and the use of stone tools, which were found alongside the bones in a cave on the remote equatorial island of Flores. To some, this suggests an organized society of tiny hunters flourished on the island for millennia at a time when modern humans dominated the planet.


Anthropologist Andrew Thomas has been able to piece together much about these creatures.

"They were an obnoxious yet ancient people more numerous formerly than they are today. They loved war and tax cuts and were most at home in boardrooms and country clubs. They did not understand or like machines more complicated than missile defense shields or an electric chairs. Even in the ancient days they were, as a rule, hateful of those living in the northeast of their island, calling them 'Elites' and 'out of touch with mainstream hobbitry'. They were quick and nimble and possessed from the first the ability to 'spin' and change the justification for their actions at the drop of a turd. Their faces, as a rule, were good-natured, pasty and white. They were inclined to wear dark suits and light blue ties. They disdained government spending but engaged in it with great delight...."


Scientists at the University of Chicago have created computer-generated pictures of what the creatures may have looked like.


Computer image of the primitive 'Hobbits'



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