Hobbit backlash building

1 minute read

The BBC ran a show tonight (Thursday Sept. 22) on the Liang Bua discoveries from Flores; meanwhile BBC News is reporting a few more details about the pathology claims:

Jacob was soon joined by a handful of researchers in the belief that the discovery team had happened upon nothing more than a member of our own species with a rare disease.
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.
Ann MacLarnon of Roehampton University, UK, has discovered the skull of a microcephalic in the vaults of London's Royal College of Surgeons with a brain that matches that of the Hobbit for size.
"It showed that we really could demonstrate with a specimen that [microephaly] could explain the Hobbit's small brain," she told Horizon.

Along with the others who have already come out publicly, like Maciej Henneberg and Alan Thorne --- and of course Teuku Jacob --- this is starting to seem like a rather large team of experts arrayed on the anti-floresiensis side.

"Set to publish new evidence" sounds good; we should see this coming out soon.

Meanwhile, there is the problem of the second mandible:

"Let's buy into [the sceptics'] argument just for a bit of fun," said Professor Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong, Australia, a member of the discovery team.
"We've got a complete lower jaw that's identical to the first so there we have a situation where we've now got to have two really badly diseased individuals.
"We've got a diseased population like some sort of leper colony, living in Liang Bua 18,000 years ago. The probabilities have got to be vanishingly small."

This may become the most intensely studied pair of jaws ever. Are they really so similar? Remember that the second jaw hasn't yet been published. From the pictures, it looks if anything a bit smaller than LB1, and strange --- although not in precisely the same way. Are they both "badly diseased individuals"?

I'd say it's at least as likely as that skeleton being normal.