Hobbit horizons…

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For those of you in the UK, check out BBC’s Horizon tonight for more on the Flores “microcephaly or not” question. (More here: Hobbit hhhmm….)

Professor Bob Martin, one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team’s original interpretation, says the Hobbit’s brain is “worryingly” small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.

“What this law says in simple terms is that if you halve body size, brain size is only reduced by 15%,” he told the BBC’s Horizon programme.

“So if you halve body size you don’t halve brain size, the brain is reduced far less than that.”

7 Comments

  1. If the Flores Hobbits are an example of “island dwarfing,” how come Samoans are so huge? 
     
    And has anybody noticed that Flores is not such a tiny island?

  2. Steve, 
     
    I think island dwarfing refers to an enclosed system. Samoans were great seafarers, so in effect the whole South Pacific was their home, although they might have lived on small islands. They had trade and therefore intermarriage with other islands thousands of miles in any direction. 
     
    As regards the size of Flores, you are indeed correct, it is not that small!

  3. I heard that fat big women is considered to be more attractive in Samoan culture… they dont eat rice either, but crops like yam, sweet potatoes, etc.

  4. “says the Hobbit’s brain is “worryingly” small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology. “ 
     
    There is no such “fundamental law” about how big brains need to be. The hobbit has an EQ like a Australopithecus – and there is no “law” against this. This little robust erectine skull and its erectine brain mold look nothing like microcephaly. Its whole skeleton is hominoid looking, and there are more than one of them.

  5. “The hobbit has an EQ like a Australopithecus – and there is no “law” against this.” 
     
    Australopithecus isn’t presumed to have decreased in size, as is H floresiensis.

  6. So what? We’re talking two different things, overall size and EQ, which can evolve independent of eachother. There is no “law” about this. If we use EQ as a proxy for intelligence, they possibly just evolved to be both shorter and stupider.

  7. I saw the Horizon programme. It was fairly well balanced, but did the usual Horizon tricking of tipping the balance in one direction (in this case, in favour of the microcephaly theory), then suddenly tipping it back near the end. The most impressive evidence for microcephaly was that someone had found a partial skull of a microcephalic in the Hunterian Museum that was a good match for the Hobbit. But then it tilted the other way, as the pro-Hobbit team produced evidence that there were at least 9 Hobbit-sized individuals, spread over millenia, including a well-preserved lower jaw bone exactly like the first Hobbit specimen. So the first Hobbit was not an isolated pathological specimen but a member of a long-lasting population. However, one of the Hobbit discoverers did backtrack on the claim that H Floriensis was directly derived from H Erectus, suggesting that it might be a different branch of Hominids entirely.

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