January's Discover magazine came in the mail; it has a list of the top 100 science stories of 2005. There are several paleoanthropology-related stories that I'll probably share later. But number 91 attracted special attention:
Flores Man Denied Status As New Species
Poor Flores Man just can't rest in peace. All year a controversy has raged about whether the bones found in 2003 on the remote Indonesian island of Flores represent a new species. Australian paleoanthropologist Peter Brown insists the skeleton is a new type of human who should be called Homo floresiensis. Others say he's [sic] simply a pygmy, five feet tall, who had microcephaly, a condition that results in a small, oddly shaped skull.
That's why Robert Eckhardt, a paleoanthropologist at Pennsylvania State University, and a team have intently analyzed the 18,000-year-old bones. The group's research papers, undergoing peer review, are unequivocal. "Homo floresiensis," says Eckhardt, "is not a valid new human species."
Brown is dismissive. "Robert Eckhardt is thick as a plank," he says....
The short piece goes on to discuss the custody of the bones and the damage to them.