More miniature human skeletons have been discovered in Micronesia. These ones, found at Palau and reported in PLoS One,1 are unquestionably modern human, but small in stature – less than four feet tall. They are also recent. Radiocarbon dates on the bones yielded dates between 1400 and 3000 years old. The find was reported by Science Daily, National Geographic News, PhysOrg and the BBC News. The discovery is casting doubt on the primitive designation for the famous “hobbit” fossils (dubbed Homo floresiensis found on the island of Flores in 2004 that caused a big stir (10/27/2004, 10/25/2005, 06/06/2006 10/11/2006). The Palau skeletons have human proportions and share features with the Flores skeletons, but have larger brains. The discoverers, who call the specimens Homo sapiens, think the individuals were products of dwarfism – a population that becomes diminished in size, as occurs with some species on islands with restricted resources, and sometimes (as with pygmies in Africa) on mainland continents. Nature News was not ready to relate these specimens to the so-called Hobbits. They could be skeletons of normal human children buried together, their report said. The authors considered that hypothesis but gave anatomical reasons for rejecting it. The work is still preliminary and will require additional samples. “Under any circumstances,” they drew as a conclusion, “the Palauan sample supports at least the possibility that the Flores hominins are simply an island adapted population of H. sapiens, perhaps with some individuals expressing congenital abnormalities.”1. Berger, Churchill, de Klerk and Quinn, “Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia,” PLoS One, 3(3): e1780 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001780.The plot thickens in middle earth. Were these children of Gondor? More hobbitses evolving into Gollum-like creatures? The bones are real but the stories about them often become imaginative. Tolkien developed fiction out of real-world experiences in his life. Some scientists do the same.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
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