Hobbit bone wars

Professor says new analysis on ‘stolen bones’ confirms ‘hobbit’ just a small, sick human

by , Managing Director, CMI–Australia

28 February 2005

We have already featured two articles on the tiny human specimen nicknamed ‘the hobbit’, after the diminutive quasi-humans imagined in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fiction classics.  See Soggy Dwarf Bones and Hobbling the Hobbit

The scientific name assigned to this alleged new species of human is Homo floresiensis (after the Indonesian island of Flores, on which the bones of seven individuals were discovered). 

These remains are now the centre of a substantial international controversy.  Indonesia’s Professor Teuku Jacob, who had allegedly agreed to return the bones (to the Australian team which made the discovery) by 1 January this year, finally returned them on 23 February.

However, while the bones were in his custody, he permitted two other Australian scientists to study them in detail—Dr Alan Thorne of the Australian National University, and Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the Department of Anatomical Sciences at the University of Adelaide.  The discoverers have protested loudly at the alleged impropriety of this pair studying ‘stolen remains’. 

Following their three-day examination of the most complete specimen, Professor Henneberg said it confirmed his previous opinion, gained from studying the reports, that this was a modern human who had a brain-shrinking disorder called microcephaly.  He is reported as saying that there is now ‘absolutely no doubt that this person had a growth disorder.’1 

Whether the tiny people of Flores were indeed microcephalic modern types, or whether they represent a pygmy version of so-called Homo erectus, the point is really the same.  Namely, that there is no reason not to classify them all—the Flores inhabitants as well as H. erectus—as Homo sapiens—part of the range of variation found within a single species (see also Skull wars: new ‘Homo erectus’ skull in Ethiopia). 

In fact, evolutionist Alan Thorne is one of those who, along with the University of Michigan’s Milford Wolpoff, has been saying for years to his paleoanthropological colleagues that, even though they believe that H. erectus evolved into modern humans, it is wrong to assign a separate species name to it.   Thorne and Henneberg are natural allies in this; Henneberg has recently published his findings that if you bunch all the ‘apemen’ in together, they exhibit the range of variation one would normally find within a single species!2

While this is radical even by creationist standards, it certainly undermines the dogmatism with which evolutionists have claimed that these sorts of ‘apemen’ demonstrate our nonhuman ancestry—and this is from an expert in anatomy!3 

The Australian scientists who made the original discovery are even further dismayed that about two grams of the hobbit bones have been sent, without their permission, to Germany’s Max Planck Institute for extracting DNA. 

While not buying into the ethics controversy surrounding the ‘hobbit bone wars’, we await the results of the DNA analysis with great interest.  We would suggest with a great deal of confidence that it will be consistent with the human status of the tiny former inhabitants of Flores, and thus consistent with a biblical recent-creation worldview. 

Sadly, the media ‘hype’ surrounding the initial discovery, as is so often the case, does its evolutionary-brainwashing damage in the public arena, without the subsequent sober withdrawals or corrections getting anywhere near the same airtime. 

Published: 7 February 2006

References and notes

  1. Cited in Smith, D., ‘Hobbit’ just a little man with small brain, Sydney Morning Herald website, 19 February 2005. Return to text.
  2. Henneberg M., de Miguel C., Hominins are a single lineage: brain and body size variability does not reflect postulated taxonomic diversity of hominins, Homo. 55(1–2):21–37, 2004. Return to text.
  3. But see also The non-transitions in ‘human evolution’—on evolutionists’ terms, citing evolutionists who classify ‘hominins’ as a group distinct from ‘australopiths’. Return to text.