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Re: New Homo Species!!?



To answer a few questions.

It has little to nothing to do with multi-regionalsim.  Multiregionalsim is 
basically paleoanthropologies version of the birds aren't dinosaurs hypothesis. 
 Nobody believes it but a vocal and well publicized minority.  Also, The 
primitive features of the postcrania suggest it is well off the beaten trail 
towards H. sapiens.  They hope to recover DNA, so in theory this could be 
answered better in the future.

The specimens in Nature sure look real, and they recovered parts of 8 
individuals, although not all are described.  They are all the same size, and 
all adults, so it appears that the 1 meter height and 25 kg mass estimates are 
pretty tight.

I think most paleoanthropologists would agree with Tattersal that human-like 
language didn't evolve until well after the H. erectus "grade" of evolution, so 
it is highly unlikely that H. floresiensis spoke (which also makes 
interbreeding or meaningful cultural exchange with huumans less likely).

Man, little hominins hunting dwarf elephants, and escaping into trees from 4 
meter long lizards.  It's like all those low-budget dinosaur movies with 
oversized lizards were right, if we just change the scale!  Like an episode of 
Land of the Lost...

Seriously, the australopithicine-like pelvis and longer limbs make this a 
really cool member of our genus.  If it truly re-invaded the trees (to escape 
from the lizards, presumably), what a phenominal alternate route evolution 
drove.  I love htis hyptohesis, but I think we need to keep an open mind to the 
possibility that this could be an even more primitive member of Homo (below the 
H. erectus - H. sapiens clade), or even a member of Australopithecus.  I know 
that sounds fantastic chronologically and biogeographically, but the 
post-crania is pretty primitive looking, and some of the skull characteristics 
that put it in Homo can also be found in the Taung Child (a juvenile 
australopithecine).  So it's possible that paedomorphosis could have produced 
an australopithecine with more Homo-like skull characters.

Not saying it's true, but I don't think the morphology is as clear cut as, say, 
the biogeographic story appears to be.  Hopefully DNA will be recovered, that 
should help clear things up.

Wow. I'm still in shock.

Oh, and erectine grade Homo (somtimes called H. ergaster) may have been taller 
on average than modern humans.  I don't have good numbers on Asian H. erectus 
height, but we are talking some serious shrinking here.  For reference, pygmies 
average 1.5 meters (50% taller!) than H. floresiensis.


-- 
Scott Hartman
Zoology & Physiology
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82070

(307) 742-3799