Since our review of A New Human last January, we’ve been following the remarkable unfolding story of the diminutive people who once populated the Indonesian island of Flores, known popularly as Hobbits. (For excerpts from the book, see here and here; for some of our updates, check here, here and here.)
Now, there’s a new study that buttresses the emerging consensus view that Hobbit represents a separate species in the human lineage.
Specifically, the study supports the notion that “the reduction in brain size during the evolution of Homo floresiensis is not unusual in comparison to these other primates [in the study]. Along with other recent studies on the effects of ‘island dwarfism’ in other mammals, these results support the hypothesis that the small brain of Homo floresiensis was adapted to local ecological conditions on Flores.”
BioMed Central offers a preliminary version of the study with Reconstructing the Ups and Downs of Primate Brain Evolution: Implications for Adaptive Hypotheses and Homo Floresiensis, a 64-page detailed review. For a one-page abstract of the study, look here. You’ll also find much briefer characterizations of the results at EurekAlert! and at Science Daily in Is the Hobbit’s Brain Unfeasibly Small?