Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New hominid species may be early version of Homo sapiens

In 2003, when fossil remains were uncovered in Liang Bua Cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, the discoverers dubbed the remains Homo floresiensis, a new hominid species.

But in a new study, published online October 9, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists, researchers suggest that the remains are, in fact, a Homo sapiens with microcephaly, an abnormally small head. The study is available via Wiley InterScience at

The main specimen of the remains, dated at about 18,000 years ago, consists of a skull and partial skeleton from a dentally adult individual (LB1). Using femur length to extrapolate height, the stature of the skeleton was estimated to be 106 cm. Other notable features were the absence of a chin in the jawbone and a very small cranial capacity. In addition to LB1, fragments of eight other individuals were found, along with advanced stone tools. The initial conclusion was that H. floresiensis was a new species, a dwarf derived from Home erectus.

In the current article, Professor Robert D. Martin of The Field Museum in Chicago, IL, and colleagues painstakingly analyze the anatomy of the remains in order to put forth the case that they are H. sapiens that had suffered from some kind of pathology. Although the original paper following the discovery dismissed the idea of microcephaly because the skeletal features did not seem to fit with this condition, the authors note that the skeleton displays many features of syndromes of microcephaly in modern man, of which there are more than 400 types often associated with severe short stature. They note that whatever condition afflicted the individual would not have prevented survival to adulthood, which is entirely possible with certain forms of microcephaly. According to their analysis, if the height, body mass, head circumference, and other anatomical anomalies attributed to H. floresiensis were compared to modern human standards, the result would be a believable, although malformed, individual. "All of these abnormalities taken together would lead to diagnosis of a severe short stature with microcephaly syndrome, although data are not sufficient to match this to a specific known syndrome," the authors state. They also point out that all microcephaly syndromes typically derive from an autosomal recessive gene and can easily recur in a small, inbred population, which would explain the presence of more than one specimen on an isolated island. In addition, they analyze several microcephalic syndromes that could be applied to the LB1 skull. "We find that this group of syndromes shares several features with the LB1 fossil, including very similar small stature and head size, a small and receding jaw, and dental anomalies," they write.

With regard to the stone tools found near the specimens, the authors note that they "clearly belong to types that are consistently associated with Homo sapiens and have not previously been associated with H. erectus or any other early hominid." In fact, they find it questionable whether H. erectus ever made his way to Flores, as the main evidence for his arrival, namely stone tools found in another location but dated much earlier, is equivocal. The authors conclude that "the features of LB1 best support the interpretation that it is a pathological, microcephalic specimen of Homo sapiens."

David Greenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>