Navigation Links
New research sheds light on 'Hobbit'

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. The research is being published in the Sept. 21 issue of Science.

The team turned its research focus to the most complete of the 12 skeletons discovered and specifically toward three little bones from the hobbits left wrist. The research asserts that modern humans and our closest fossil relatives, the Neandertals, have a very differently shaped wrist in comparison to living great apes, older fossil hominins like Australopithecus (e.g., Lucy) and even the earliest members of the genus Homo (e.g., Homo habilis, the handy-man). But the hobbits wrist is basically indistinguishable from an African ape or early hominin-like wristnothing at all like that seen in modern humans and Neandertals.

The lead author of the study, Matt Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist in the Smithsonians Human Origins Program at the National Museum of Natural History, was completely surprised when he first saw casts of the hobbits wrist bones. Up until then, I had no definitive opinion regarding the hobbit debates, said Tocheri. But these hobbit wrist bones do not look anything like those of modern humans. Theyre not even close!

The evidence from the hobbits wrist is extremely important because it demonstrates further that the hobbit indeed represents a different species of human as was originally proposed by its discoverers. It is not a modern human with some sort of pathology or growth disorder. The distinctive shapes of wrist bones form during the first trimester of pregnancy while most pathologies and growth disorders do not begin to affect the skeleton until well after that time. Therefore, pathologies or growth defects cannot adequately explain why a modern human would have a wrist that was indistinguishable from that of an African ape or primitive hominin.

This evidence suggests that modern humans and Neandertals share an earlier human ancestor that the hobbits do not. Tocheri continued, Basically, the wrist evidence tells us that modern humans and Neandertals share an evolutionary grandparent that the hobbits do not, but all three share an evolutionary great-grandparent. If you think of modern humans and Neandertals as being first cousins, then the hobbit is more like a second cousin to both.

Caley Orr of Arizona State University and a co-author of the study said, Wrist bones have a lot of complex anatomy, which makes them particularly useful for understanding the evolutionary relationships of living and fossil species through detailed comparative analyses.

The international team used cutting-edge 3-D technology to compare and quantify the shapes of the different wrist bones. Many of the sophisticated 3-D techniques used for the analysis were developed during the past few years at the Partnership for Research in Spatial Modeling at Arizona State University. Tocheri and Orr both worked as graduate research assistants at PRISM, where they learned how to apply these 3-D techniques toward their research interests in paleoanthropology.


Contact: Michele Urie

Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Quantum Dots Research Leads to New Knowledge about Protein Binding in Plants
3. Columbia research lifts major hurdle to gene therapy for cancer
4. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
5. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
6. Research advances quest for HIV-1 vaccine
7. Research on Worms Yields Clues on Aging
8. U of M researcher examines newly emerging deadly disease
9. NYU researchers simulate molecular biological clock
10. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
11. Researchers identify target for cancer drugs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)...  Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. Dick ... --> --> Mr. ... partnership at TPG Capital, one of the largest global ... in revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating Group, ... from 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, he ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... 12, 2015  A golden retriever that stayed healthy ... (DMD) has provided a new lead for treating this ... Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the University ... Cell, pinpoints a protective gene ... disease,s effects. The Boston Children,s lab of Lou ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... is pleased to announce that it will be a Sponsor ... event, to be held November 17-19 in Hamburg ... demonstrations of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven ... has been able to deliver time and cost savings ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon ... over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. ... a wide range of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... --> ... 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow will ... long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the workflow ... errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample barcoding ... a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA extraction, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... and HOLLISTON, Mass. , ... Inc. (Nasdaq: HART ), a biotechnology company developing ... CEO Jim McGorry will present at the ... 1, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will ... for 30 days. Management will also be available at ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, ... will participate in a fireside chat discussion at the ... New York . The discussion is scheduled for ... .  A replay will be available ... Contact:McDavid Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: