Math in the News
Modern Statistical Analysis Confirms Indonesian "Hobbits" Were New Human Species
March 3, 2010
Using statistics, researchers have confirmed Indonesia's recently discovered Homo floresiensis to be an ancient human species—and not descendants of healthy humans dwarfed by disease. Details appeared in the article "The Geometry of Hobbits: Homo floresiensis and Human Evolution" (Significance, December, 2009).
William Jungers and Karen Baab (both from Stony Brook University) came to this conclusion by investigating the remains of LB1, a specimen uncovered in 2003. The remains included a skull, jaw, arms, legs, hands, and feet. The cranial capacity of LB1 was just over 400 cm, making it similar to the brains of a chimpanzee and the bipedal "ape-men" of east and south Africa. However, analysis of the remains, which were based on a regression equation developed by Jungers, revealed that LB1 was about 106 cm tall (3 feet, 6 inches), much shorter than modern pygmies who can grow to more than 150 cm, or close to 5 feet.
A scatterplot depicted LB1, therefore, to be outside the range of southeast Asian and African pygmies in absolute height and body mass indices.
"Attempts to dismiss the hobbits as pathological people have failed repeatedly because the medical diagnoses of dwarfing syndromes and microcephaly bear no resemblance to the unique anatomy of Homo floresiensis," concluded Baab.
Source: Science Daily