|15 January 2005
New species may have relatives in next villlage
A growing number of scientists are challenging the sensational discovery last year of a new species of one-metre-tall intelligent humans whose 13,000-year-old bones were said to have been found in an Indonesian cave (see the Archaeo News article we published on 29 October 2004). According to some leading anthropologists in Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere, Homo floresiensis is not "one of the most important discoveries of the last 150 years" as was widely reported last October, but a pygmy version of modern Homo sapiens with a not uncommon brain disease.
Now a leading critic of the Homo floresiensis theory is to send researchers to a village near the cave where the bones were excavated to measure an extended family group whose males may be just a few inches taller than the skeleton. Three male members of the family have been found, the shortest of whom was 1 metre 25cm (4ft), compared with the estimated 1 metre of the skeleton. Professor Teuku Jacob of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta said he would compare the villagers' measurements with those of the bones. "It is quite possible that there are pygmy people living in the area who are related to the people found in the cave."
The dispute over the bones is dividing evolutionists between those who believe modern humans came "out of Africa" and those who say that they evolved in many parts of the world. But it is now getting personal with both sides hurling insults at each other. Prof Jacob, who has been accused by the Australian scientists who led the excavation of "kidnapping" the bones from Indonesia's centre of archaeology, said the Australian team had "rushed" their work and lacked expertise.
Source: The Guardian (13 January 2005)
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