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marți, 16 octombrie 2012

The Hobbit Was An Actual Ancient Human

This December, Director Peter Jackson’s film, “The Hobbit,” hits theaters.

This film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel of the same name features the adventures of small humanoid race that stands about two to four feet tall.

Though these creatures inhabit the fictional world of Middle Earth, scientists have discovered that an actual hobbit-like species of humans existed during pre-historic times. Leading into the idea that the Earth was home to three different species of humans: homosapiens, Neanderthal, and now the Hobbit.

Researchers are now attempting to put a face to the real-life Hobbit.

The Real Life Hobbit

The discovery of a short-statured human species was announced in 2004 when researchers discovered the skeletal remains at Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores.

The cave held the remains of one full skeleton along with the partial remains of eight others. The full skeleton stood about three feet tall, which led the researchers to nickname it the “hobbit”, after Tolkien’s characters.

Though researchers were ecstatic to discover a new human species, their announcement was met with immediate skepticism. Some scientists believed that the specimen is a modern human that suffered from a rare pathological disorder known as Microcephaly; not a separate species.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Microcephaly is “…is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex.” The condition is usually a result of abnormal brain development in the womb or right after birth.

Common traits of Microcephaly are an abnormal brain along with a small body structure, which are defining traits of the Hobbit.

However, the microcephaly theory was thrown out in 2009 when Researchers from Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York confirmed that Homo Floresiensis, the Hobbit’s scientific name, was its own species.

It’s Official – Hobbits Were Real

According to the study, “Attempts to dismiss the hobbits as pathological people have failed repeatedly because the medical diagnoses of dwarfing syndromes and microcephaly bear no resemblance to the unique anatomy of Homo floresiensis.”

Basically, the researchers were able to rule out all known modern human species, including those inflicted with microcephaly and groups of humans that fall into pigmy categories.

Since pathology was ruled out, and the Hobbit was confirmed as a new species, it is believed that environment played a large part in their stature.

Because food resources were limited in the location, researchers believed that the Hobbits evolved to remain small in size. The theory is that the Hobbit evolved from a smaller primate and still possessed some of those features; such as longer arms and a sloping chin.

However, even though the species had a smaller brain, they were still able to construct primitive tools. Artifacts were found with the remains proving that the Hobbits were capable of such a feat.

According to Professor Dean Faulk, one of the researchers contends:
“People refused to believe that someone with that small of a brain could make the tools.”

However the Hobbits were able to achieve this because their brains evolved to be organized and “rewired”, much more efficiently than modern humans. An endocast of the Hobbits brain seems to support Faulk’s theory.

Not only were researchers able to make a cast of the Hobbit’s brain, but more recently, Al Jazeera reports that they were also able to give the specimen a face. Based on the evidence available, Japanese scientists constructed a model of what the full skeletal specimen would have looked like.

They came up with a 3-foot tall female humanoid with ape-like features.

Even though they do not look like their Hollywood counterparts, it seems that Earth did indeed have its very own Hobbit species.

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