Monday, January 14, 2008

Flores Man not a Different Species

Scientists are taking a closer look at the 'Hobbits' of Indonesia:

The long-running debate about the existence of so-called hobbits of Indonesia has taken a new turn with a study that suggests these ancient people were not an unusual species of human but modern humans with a growth disorder.


Ever since there has been debate whether or not the bones were actually from pygmies - even today there are pygmies on the island - and not a new species of human that lived between 120,000 and 10,000 years ago. One idea is that they suffered from microcephaly, a disorder that limits brain growth.

Today support for this idea comes from the discovery of a gene for a rare growth condition, MOPD II, that causes small brain and body size but near-normal intelligence, reported in the journal Science by a large international team including Dr Anita Rauch of Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Erlangen, Germany, and colleagues.

Adults with this rare inherited condition reach an average height of a metre and although their brain is comparable in size to that of a three-month-old baby, they have near unaffected intelligence. The research study was triggered by two unrelated tiny girls living in northern Bavaria.

Another transitional bites the dust...