Nature News mentions a new study on Homo floresiensis that concludes that the fossil is that of a microcephalic modern human. The study is actually published in PNAS (and if someone could send me a copy I would appreciate it – my email is in the about tab). Continue reading
Extracting DNA from Homo floresiensis has been tried in the past with no luck. Nature News reports on a new attempt to obtain DNA from a Homo floresiensis molar. What struck me is interesting from the story is this bit: Continue reading
BMC Biology has a 64 page paper on brain evolution in primates. The paper focuses on Homo floresiensis and concludes that (from the abstract):
Our results confirm that brain expansion began early in primate evolution and show that increases occurred in all major clades. Only in terms of an increase in absolute mass does the human lineage appear particularly striking, with both the rate of proportional change in mass and relative brain size having episodes of greater expansion elsewhere on the primate phylogeny. However, decreases in brain mass also occurred along branches in all major clades, and we conclude that, while selection has acted to enlarge primate brains, in some lineages this trend has been reversed. Further analyses of the phylogenetic position of Homo floresiensis and better body mass estimates are required to confirm the plausibility of the evolution of its small brain mass. We find that for our dataset the Bayesian analysis for ancestral state reconstruction is least affected by inclusion of fossil data suggesting that this approach might be preferable for future studies on other taxa with a poor fossil record.
I haven’t read the entire thing yet and will have more to say when I have…
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a nice article on the use of CT scanning in paleoanthropology:
The Journal of Human Evolution is going to have a special issue devoted to Homo floresiensis and word is leaking out on one of the articles in it. The Australian has the best article so far. I say that because it inspired a Homer Simpson like D’OH moment on my part. Here is why: Continue reading