photo by Barron Storey, New York Times
The New York Times reports on a fascinating discovery which has paleontologists scratching their heads.
Six years after their discovery, the extinct little people nicknamed hobbits who once occupied the Indonesian island of Flores remain mystifying anomalies in human evolution, out of place in time and geography, their ancestry unknown. Recent research has only widened their challenge to conventional thinking about the origins, transformations and migrations of the early human family.
Properly named Homo Floresiensis, scientists are not sure if they could have been primitive survivors of even earlier hominid migrations out of Africa, before Homo erectus migrated about 1.8 million years ago. This theory would mean that some of the earliest African toolmakers, around 2.5 million years ago, had made their way across Asia.
Another possible explanation is that they evolved into a new species in Asia, which moved back to Africa. Two-way traffic is not unheard of in other mammals.
Everything about them seems incredible. They were very small, not much more than three feet tall, yet do not resemble any modern pygmies. They walked upright on short legs, but might have had a peculiar gait obviating long-distance running. The single skull that has been found is no bigger than a grapefruit, suggesting a brain less than one-third the size of a human’s, yet they made stone tools similar to those produced by other hominids with larger brains. They appeared to live isolated on an island as recently as 17,000 years ago, well after humans had made it to Australia.
Some prominent paleoanthropologists are reserving judgment, among them Richard Leakey, the noted hominid fossil hunter who is chairman of the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University. Like other undecided scientists, he cited the need to find more skeletons at other sites, especially a few more skulls.
What do you think about this story? Do you find these sciences fascinating? Why do you think some people are so against this stuff? Do you think that our having evolved from these primitive creatures, if that's true, in some way diminishes us? What do fundamental Christians think about this? Isn't this proof that The Bible and the other sacred texts need not be taken literally?
What's your opinion?