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Yet again, a new side of the debate takes the stage. According to a paper published in Anthropological Science the ‘hobbit,’ or Homo Floresiensis, is a desscendant of the asian form of Homo Erectus. The researchers beleive that the fossils represent a sort of insular dwarfism. The researchers are confident that their analysis of the skull indicates these fossils are a form of Homo Erectus.
Below are paragraphs from research report. You can read the entire report here.
The dramatic change in size that can be observed in many insular mammalian taxa is certainly the best-known adaptation to isolated conditions. However, this size change, however spectacular it may be, is not the only evident modification of island species. Generally, adaptations of island species are reflected in their craniodental anatomy, as a response to changes in diet and defensive systems, and their postcranial anatomy, as a response to changes in locomotion (Sondaar, 1977). These morphological changes are often so extensive that it is not easy to trace with certainty their direct mainland ancestry. In a few cases, such as the dwarf hippopotamuses and dwarf elephants of the Mediterranean islands, this is relatively easy because of the very limited number of mainland candidates. Homo floresiensis, the small-bodied hominid from Flores, could provide such a case as well, because here also there are only a very few known species that could be its direct ancestor.
However, since the description of this new species (Brown et al., 2004) several papers have appeared expressing different opinions about its origin. In the original description of the species, Brown et al. (2004) suggested that H. floresiensis is a descendant of H. erectus and explained its small size as an evolutionary adaptation to the insular environment of Flores. Later works gave further support to this theory (e.g. Falk et al., 2005, 2007; Argue et al., 2006; Baab et al., 2007; Gordon et al., 2008). The inclusion of postcranial elements in the phylogenetic analysis, however, leaves open the possibility that H. floresiensis originated from H. habilis or another, as yet unknown, early Homo (e.g. Morwood and Van Oosterzee, 2007). This hypothesis has not been contradicted by further studies of the cranial (Gordon et al., 2008), postcranial (Tocheri et al., 2007) and endocranial (Falk et al., 2005) anatomy of H. floresiensis. A completely different path to explain the origin of H. floresiensis was followed by other researchers who considered the small hominid from Flores as a modern human, suffering from some kind of pathology or disorder (Henneberg and Thorne, 2004; Weber et al., 2005; Jacob et al., 2006; Martin et al., 2006; Hershkovitz et al., 2007; Obendorf et al., 2008).
In this contribution, we analyze the cranial morphology of H. floresiensis, applying geometric morphometrics in order to further clarify its phylogenetic position. To test the hypothesis that H. floresiensis is a pathological H. sapiens, we first compare H. floresiensis with both microcephalic and normal H. sapiens. To test the hypothesis that H. floresiensis is similar to, or a pathological form of, the Neolithic small people of Flores, we compare H. floresiensis with the Liang Togé subfossil remains. To test the hypothesis that H. floresiensis originates from H. erectus or another early hominin, we compared H. floresiensis with H. erectus, H. habilis, and Australopithecus africanus. We further discuss some particular features of its cranial and postcranial anatomy within the scope of evolutionary processes observed in insular mammals, by comparing these features with those of insular mammals known from the fossil record, including the endemic Minatogawa people from Okinawa Island, Japan.
The overall cranial morphology of H. floresiensis (LB1) when compared with that of Asian H. erectus (Sangiran 17), H. habilis (KMN–ER 1813), A. africanus (Sts 5) and a sample of normal as well as microcephalic modern H. sapiens, is most similar to that of H. erectus. On the ground of this morphological similarity we agree with the phylogenetic schemes that suggest a close relationship between the Flores hominin and H. erectus. Furthermore, our results are not in conflict with stratigraphic data indicating that humans arrived on the island of Flores by about 800,000 years BP.
Some researchers questioned the initial affinity suggested between H. floresiensis and H. erectus, mainly on the ground of its supposedly primitive limb proportions, which are reminiscent of those of the australopithecines, and its unexpectedly small brain size. However, postcranial proportions cannot be used as a valid character in phylogenetic analyses, because all known insular dwarf mammals evolved secondarily derived changes in their limb anatomy and proportions. Endemic Palaeolithic humans, such as the Minatogawa people of Okinawa Island, Japan, are no exception. Furthermore, the relatively much smaller brain size of H. floresiensis can be explained in the light of insular evolution as well, because there is another well-documented example of such a decrease in brain size in an insular mammal (M. balearicus). However, this latter case appears to be an exception rather than a rule, as brain size in other insular mammals remains constant during the process of dwarfing. Further study of H. floresiensis in relation to its ancestor, an Asian branch of H. erectus, is thus needed to shed light on this enigmatic case.