Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Homo floresiensis in the news again

It's another round in the ongoing Homo floresiensis debate. Is it an actual species or just a microcephalic dwarf? This time, there's two papers in the latest Nature that lean toward the "new species" interpretation:

Jungers et al. 2009. The foot of Homo floresiensis. Nature 459:81-84.

Weston and Lister. 2009. Insular dwarfism in hippos and a model for brain size reduction in Homo floresiensis. Nature 459:85-88.

Commentary here:

Lieberman. 2009. Homo floresiensis from head to toe. Nature 459:41-42.

I lean towards the "new species" interpretation, but probably just because I like species diversification. That, and it doesn't look like a microcephalic (see Schlitzie). But I'm no paleoanthropologist and I'm not competent to judge.

Here's Kurt Wise's take on the Flores fossils:

Wise. 2005. The Flores skeleton and human baraminology. OPBSG 6:1-13.

The paper is a bit ponderous, since the reviewers insisted that he basically spell out all his assumptions. It was originally intended to be a short commentary. I seem to recall it going through a year of editing, too.