Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Science News, WASHINGTON - Early dwarfs or fossilized "hobbits" discovered in Indonesia may have had the brains of a previously unknown species of early humans, imaging scans suggest.
The new finding supports the hypothesis that Homo floresiensis, or "Man of Flores," was marooned on the island at the same time modern humans flourished elsewhere in the world.
Researchers produced a computer-generated model of the 3-foot species using impressions of the fossilized skulls.
Florida State University anthropologist Dean Falk and her team then compared the inside of the fossil skulls with casts from modern and ancient humans, chimps and other primates.
When the fossil discovery was announced last year, anthropologists said the skull was about the size of a grapefruit.
It appeared the Flores dwarfs hunted pygmy elephants, built fires and made stone tools, the researchers said.
Now, the chimplike brain has been measured to 717 cubic centimetres. They also found the brain has a wrinkled surface like Homo erectus and a large temporal lobe.
Other parts of the skeleton were more primitive, such as coarse teeth and an ape-like pelvis.
Not all anthropologists and archeologists agree with the team's interpretation of the significance of the brain scans.