Friday, May 21, 2010

Homo floresiensis

Most of you probably already know that a miniature species of human, dubbed Homo floresiensis, was discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003.

Today I found a terrific article on Homo floresiensis' brain size.

Here's the basics ...

Someone actually did a comparative study between brain size and body mass on 37 current species of primates and 23 fossil species. They then traced various possible evolutionary scenarios trying to track the growth in brain size relative to body mass.

They then took their results and applied them to Homo floresiensis.

Their conclusion was that if floresiensis descended from Homo erectus, then the decrease in relative brain size is an anomaly. It's a surprise. Though it happens, this reduction in brain size is too much.

However, if Homo floresiensis descended from Homo habilis—Homo erectus' most likely predecessor, for whom there's no indication they ever left Africa—then the increase in relative brain size from Homo habilis would be normal for primate evolution.

They had an even better suggestion, in my opinion, in Homo georgicus being the possible ancestors of the Flores hobbits. Georgicus was described in 2002 and seems intermediate between erectus and habilis.

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