Pygmy vs. Hobbit Revisited

September 21, 2007

Sometime ago, I posted about the ongoing scientific debate regarding hominid skeletal remains found on the Indonesian island of Flores. The controversy is whether the remains represent a new species, Homo floresiensis.

Really this is a battle of one Hobbit vs. Three Pygmies. The Hobbit is a new species of Homo. The Three Pygmies are subspecies/pygmies of one of three known Homo species. The three Pygmy options are Homo sapiens (modern human), Homo erectus (Java man which is a large neanderthal-like early human that lived in Asia long before H. sapien arrived), and Homo Habilis (smaller but less advanced in tool use than H. erectus but never thought to have left Africa).

Time will tell but if I’d put my money on a Pygmy H. sapien.

Well time is telling and it looks like my Pygmy H. sapien bet was wrong.

An international team of researchers led by the Smithsonian Institution has completed a new study on Homo floresiensis, commonly referred to as the “hobbit,” a 3-foot-tall, 18,000-year-old hominin skeleton, discovered four years ago on the Indonesian island of Flores.

This study offers one of the most striking confirmations of the original interpretation of the hobbit as an island remnant of one of the oldest human migrations to Asia.

Unless I am misreading, the evidence seems to be pointing at a Pygmy H. erectus or some kind of subspecies of Homo erectus. Very cool.