duminică, 23 ianuarie 2011

This should really mess with Creationists’ heads.

Seems not only has our species been around for 100,000 ears (a little longer than creationists think) and evolved from early primates, we are also cousins to...hobbits!

"Basically, the wrist evidence tells us that modern humans and Neanderthals share an evolutionary grandparent that the hobbits do not, but all three share an evolutionary great-grandparent. If you think of modern humans and Neanderthals as being first cousins, then the hobbit is more like a second cousin to both," Tocheri said.

There was debate if these little humanoids were actually deformed homosapiens, however, new studies show this is not the case.

Now, a study of the bones in the creature's left wrist lends weight to the human ancestor theory, according to a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Some truth behind the myths?

It is unknown whether the hobbit intermingled with modern humans. The researchers found hobbit and pygmy stegodon remains only below a 12,000-year-old volcanic ash layer. Modern human remains were found only above the layer.

Still, rumors, myths, and legends of tiny creatures have swirled around the isolated island for centuries. It's certainly possible that they interacted with modern humans, according to the researchers.

"Looked at from a regional perspective, we definitely have modern humans in Australia from at least 40,000 years ago, and in Borneo from at least 43,000 years ago," Roberts said. "So there was temporal overlap between the hobbits and ourselves from at least 40,000 years ago until at least 18,000 years ago—more than 20,000 years minimum. What was the nature of their interaction? We have absolutely no idea.."
What did they look like?

Well, not quite so cute as Bilbo -"Physically, they were about the size of a three-year old Homo sapiens [modern human] child, but with a braincase only one-third as large," said Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and one on the co-authors of the research paper. "They had slightly longer arms than us. More conspicuously, they had hard, thicker eyebrow ridges than us, a sharply sloping forehead, and no chin."
"While they don't look like modern humans, some of their behaviors were surprisingly human," said Brown, the study co-author.

"The hobbit was nobody's fool," Roberts said. "They survived alongside us [Homo sapiens] for at least 30,000 years, and we're not known for being very amiable eco-companions. And the hobbits were managing some extraordinary things—manufacturing sophisticated stone tools, hunting pygmy elephants, and crossing at least two water barriers to reach Flores from mainland Asia—with a brain only one-third the size of ours.

"Given that Homo floresiensis is the smallest human species ever discovered, they out-punch every known human intellectually, pound for pound."

A few more relatives

1 HOMO HABILIS ~ NICKNAME: Handyman LIVED: 2.4 to 1.6 million years ago
2 HOMO SAPIEN ~ NICKNAME: Human LIVED: 200,000 years ago to present
3 HOMO FLORESIENSIS ~ NICKNAME: Hobbit LIVED: 95,000 to 13,000 years ago
4 HOMO ERECTUS ~ NICKNAME: Erectus LIVED: 1.8 million years to 100,000 years ago
5 PARANTHROPUS BOISEI ~ NICKNAME: Nutcracker man LIVED: 2.3 to 1.4 million years
6 HOMO HEIDELBERGENSIS ~ NICKNAME: Goliath LIVED: 700,000 to 300,000 years
7 HOMO NEANDERTHALENSIS ~ NICKNAME: Neanderthal LIVED: 250,000 to 30,000 years ago