Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hobbits

Most of you have probably seen or read something about this but still it's cool.

Any way it's just (in the last week) been announced that a group of researchers digging on an Island in Indonesia have found the remains of a hobbit like species in human family that appears to have lived in the area up to 12,000 years ago.(Historical evidence for us doesn't start showing up just after that point).

The creatures were about 1 metre (just over 3 feet) tall when fully grown and where found in the same sedimentary layer as a range of well made stone tools and were not Human Homo sapiens they've been classified Homo floresiensis.


Then just to top this all off there are a very large number of very detailed local legend's about a race of small people in the region. Some of the legends being quite recent in origin which has lead to speculation that some of the species may still survive today or did up to a couple of hundred years ago in the more remote and unexplored regions of the nearby islands.

Any way for more information both the BBC and National Geographic have articles on it.


Note they're NOT Humans Homo sapiens they're a different spieces!

Interesting isn't it, also it makes you wonder what if they still exist?
Human or Animal?
What effect might this have on our faith and beliefs?

Edit: Added Species differences.

5 comments:

Cameron said...

Regardless of whether or not they still existed, why would it change anything about what we believed? Would they not still be human? There's no reason why they could/would not still be descendants of Adam & Eve. I'm no geneticist, but I don't see any problem in that. Just that they got shorter (or were short in the first place) while the rest of us got taller.
Sometimes I wonder what that BSc is doing to you Chad... :-)

EONsim said...

The difference Cameron is that while they have been classified as members of the genus Homo they aren't Homo sapiens they've been labelled Homo floresiensis.

They're not humans any more than a chimp is and they're not just a group of Dwarf humans. Human dwarfs you might note have similar sized heads as a "normal" human, you may have noted when seeing them there heads appear to big for their bodies.

While these creatures are even smaller than your usual dwarf and have skulls about the same size as a grapefruit.

Cameron they're a different species like humans and apes.

As for challenging beliefs, we separate mankind from animals don't we? Man has a soul, makes tools, can plan and remember, creates cultures, languages, communicates etc. Animals show or are considered to have few or none of these things. So where would a creature that can do all the above (acts like a human) and yet is not human (Homo sapien) fit into creation?

Would it be "god created mankind (homo sapien), hobbits (homo floresiensis) and the animals" Or "god created Humans (homo sapiens), animals and a really smart type of ape (homo floresiensis)"?

These things AREN'T human (Homo sapiens), they are a different species! like falcons and Eagles they are different species even though they maybe similar in many ways.

Fraser Dron said...

Uh - I don't know much about genetics either - but just because someone classified them as a different species, doesn't mean they were right! I can think of a couple of illustrations:

1) Dogs. Say our civilisation is destroyed, along with every last dog in the world, and all knowledge of dogkind.(Okay, it's a far-fetched scenario, but bear with me) and thousands of years later archaeologists discover the fossilised remains of the first dog they've encountered - a pekingese. They classify it according to what they know of other animals. Some time later, in another part of the world, a few bones are unearthed which belonged to a great dane. (Again, I'm no expert on this sort of thing) Scientists notice similarities between the remains of the two creatures, and assign them to the same twig on the mammalia branch, but how likely would they be to classify the two as one species? They look so different. And yet, all along they're both Canis Familiaris.

2)Neandertals. I've heard plenty of mixed reports here, but the most recent thing I heard, Homo Neanderthalensis had been renamed Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis.

I'm not disagreeing with you on whether Homo Floresiensis were 'human' or not. Just thought I'd point out that taxonomy isn't exactly static.

EONsim said...

True enough though with regards to the Neandertals the idea that they where just a odd branch of Modern humans was quite popular about a year or two ago after some research suggested that it might be and that they might have been able to interbreed successfully with Modern humans but nothings turned up to support that Idea and plenty to rubish it so it's been pretty much droped these days.

Well it's certainly possibly that they could be a very very odd form modern human it seems unlikely seeing they managed to uncover several near complete skelletons including a skull. Which should allow them to be fairly definate in saying they're not.

As for Dogs they're very much a specially case thats due to 4000+ years of guided selective breeding that we've managed to get such varity within a single species. And Selective breeding on that scale would simply not have occured 12000+ years ago.
It would be much fairer to look at the Cat family where you have several different species of Cats which while very similar are not able to successfully breed (Successful biology means that the offspring are fertile). You can get the odd crossbreed but they're never fertile.

you do realise thatthese "hobbits" where only 3 feet tall when fully grown with a head the size of a grapefruit and half to a third the brain size of a homo sapien. When you are dealing with changes that large it's very very unlikely that they're the same species. Still the remains are only ~12,000 years old and well preserved but not fossilised so they're hoping to get some form of DNA sample which will pretty much prove it either way.

Remember these creatures were smaller than modern day dwarves with significantly different physical features and bone structures it's very unlikely that they're the same species.

Note if you argued they're descended from Adam and Eve (No offence but I think the very idea is silly) you going to have to do one of two things explain how Adam and Eve were around 12,000 years ago when the bible suggests 4,000. Or explain how the dating technique was out by over 3x as well as the fact they were under 12m of ground and how there is no evidence of other modern humans for ~ another couple of thousand years.

As well as the various other things such as they bones of the creatures found near by that they appeared to hunt are for species that are extinct and have been extinct for so long that no one is aware of their existance until they were dug up.

Cameron said...

Sorry I suppose I didn't do enough research before I made my comment. But whether it was human or not I see no reason why it would change my beliefs on anything.