Friday, November 20, 2015

Hobbits Are Special & Their Teeth May Prove It

The 18,000-year-old fossil remains of an ancient, 3-foot-tall (0.9 meters) humanoid found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 and nicknamed the "hobbit" has puzzled evolutionary scientists. 

Scientists believe the hobbit with a grapefruit-sized brain, was part of a separate branch of the human lineage (i.e. Homo floresiensis) while others think he was a more modern humanoid with microcephaly, a developmental condition.

To find out, scientists analyzed hobbit teeth and compared them to 490 modern humans from Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe, as well as extinct hominins, such as Homo habilis, which is suspected to be among the first makers of stone tools. 

While some teeth were as small as those from modern humans, others showed a unique mosaic of primitive traits seen in early hominins mixed with more-advanced traits seen in later hominins.

The mystery continues, but it's fun to think about while flossing. Go science! 

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