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November 23, 2009

A Plethora of Hobbit Papers

by Elizabeth Culotta

Fans of Homo floresiensis will be happy this month, as the Journal of Human Evolution (JHE) has a special issue devoted to these diminutive hominins whose fossils were found on the Indonesian island of Flores. There’s also a new paper out in Significance, the Royal Statistical Society journal, in which William Jungers and Karen Baab add more analyses to back up the contention that the little people from Liang Bua cave are a new kind of hominin rather than diseased modern humans.

539px-Homo_floresiensis.fromwiki The JHE special issue covers every aspect of hobbit lore, including limbs, teeth, skull, geology, and stone tools. The papers have been posted online as they became available, and some of the work has been presented at meetings, so some findings have been in the news already. For example, at Science, we have recently covered the surprising similarity in stone tools from the H. floresiensis and H. sapiens levels, the hobbit’s unusual shoulder, and her primitive and strange feet. The special issue gathers an impressive amount of description and analysis in one place and includes a preface by co-discoverer Mike Morwood of the University of Wollongong and the University of New England, Armidale, and his colleagues.

Photo credit: Ryan Somma

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