Daily Archives: 03/04/2005

Small Brain Sandwich

A couple developments in the Indonesian ‘hobbit’ announce last year, homo floresiensis. First the Indonesian anthropologist keeping the bones in his university vault, Teuku Jacob, released the fossils to the team of Australian anthropologists that discovered the diminutive hominid last year. Jacob returned the bones after allowing two other multi-regionalists examine the fossils, with a 60 Minutes film crew recording the event. Amazingly, two grams of fossil material was extracted and sent to a German laboratory to search for DNA.

It will be interesting if the lab returns positive results and some testable DNA. Earlier today a news story hit the AP wire about virtual brain scans done on the fossil skull of homo floresiensis, and the results are exciting. The brain case of the Flores fossil most closely resembles home erectus specimens collected in Java and China, lending support to the discoverer’s claims.

Despite the tiny brain’s similarity to homo erectus, the brain shows curiously modern features including an enlarged temporal lobe and Brodmann’s area 10, a region thought to be involved in higher reasoning and foresight. So maybe they were tiny little tool-making men and not some severely deformed pygmy with microcephaly.