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New research sheds light on 'Hobbit'
Date:9/20/2007

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.


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Contact: Michele Urie
UrieM@si.edu
202-633-2950
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert

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