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To Hobbit or not to Hobbit?

Remember the Hobbit-like remains found in a cave on Flores, the island east of Bali and midway between Asia and Australia? It looks as if our recent understanding of Homo floresiensis is being challenged. Here's the latest news from the last few days:

*"Hobbit Hubbub:New study stirs debate over mini human species" at ScientificAmerican.com
*"Time to Slay the Hobbit?" at ScienceNow.com
*"The 'Hobbit' is just a pygmy after all, claim scientists" at The Telegraph
*"The Hobbit Wars Heat Up" at Time.com
*Claim of 'Hobbit' Species Discounted" at LiveScience.com

In other news, happy birthday to science fiction giant Ray Bradbury, who turned 86 yesterday.

In his honor, two quotes for the day:

"There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves."
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles, "Usher II"

"We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?"
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC)
Oh they're always arguing about whether a species is a species, aren't they?! And people have been saying that about homo floresiensis since they were first found... just more quietly. What I love in this case is how the find matches up with the oral history, the "legend" of the small people on the island (which actually seems to happen quite often and cross-culturally). Whatever species they were, there was a group of smaller people, buried separately from others on this island. So why..?
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
Yes! I know exactly what you mean. It fits so well with the history and lore. You'd think it would be easier for the specialists to decide if these small people were normal representatives of a separate species or abnormal representatives of a preexisting one, but it seems lots of things are at stake in the argument... and look at the whole Pluto mess! Sigh. I feel a bit like pulling the "Tinkerbell rescue" and chanting, "I do believe in hobbits! I do! I do!" :)
Aug. 27th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)
Well, I've done enough osteology, and I know enough physical anthropologists to know that it really isn't as easy at it sounds like it should be! But then you get the whole political mess thrown in, and the promise of funding or ruined-career-type-laughing-stocks, and suddenly there's an awful lot riding on a couple of old mis-shapen skulls! Aint archaeology grand?!

And yeah... personally I *do* believe in Pluto!! *sighs*
Aug. 24th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury............
He's a wonderful writer. My fav: The Martian Chronicles:)
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury............
I adore The Martian Chronicles! "Usher II" is my absolute favorite chapter.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )