[Taxacom] hobbit

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Tue Sep 25 07:42:27 CDT 2007

If anyone may be able to send me a pdf copy of the latest hobbit
analysis in Science I would be most grateful. The recent article
apparently shows that the carpal structure is more like that of an ape
than hominid. This is not surprising given that the fossil includes some
other intriguing and problematic characters that raise critical
questions about its status and relationships. These features appear to
have been largely overlooked or ignored in the current debate over the
hobbit status. In a chapter called "Defining Hominidae" the Handbook of
Paleoanthropology Schwartz outlines some of these problematic features
which are listed below. 


If anyone can elaborate or critically comment on these I would be most
interested. If Schwartz is correct it would seem that the status of
floresiensis as a member of Homo is still something that remains to be
determined with confidence. If the evidence is correct this is a highly
problematic fossil with multiple unique character distributions out of
place with other Homo. Maybe there is more than one fossil taxa
represented - although perhaps the unified status of the skeletal parts
has been established. At the very least these problems relate to the
broader problem of defining 'Hominidae' for living and fossil taxa.

1. moderately globular cranium (some hominids)
2. somewhat thickened and interiorly protruding rim like supraorbital
margins with no sulcus (australopiths in part, orangutans and relatives)
3. tall, ovoid orbits (Pongo, Sivapithecus, some australopiths)
4. flat nasal bones (most hominoids including Homo)
5. forwardly facing and vertical, yet superoinferiorly short zygomas
(australopiths, orangutans and relatives)
6. well-developed mastoid process (some australopiths and some Homo
7. thick frontal with thick diploe (autapomorphic or pathological)
8. no frontal sinuses (most primates including bonobos
9. broad incisive foramen that proceeds interiorly as an expanding
groove (a few australopiths)
10. long retromolar space (various Homo)
11. broadly and smoothly rounded but truncated gonial angle (some Homo)
12. very anterior-posteriorly long sigmoid notch (some Homo)
13. sigmoid notch crest deepest near coronoid process (autapomorphic)
14. very large cheek teeth and apparently small anterior teeth
(some australopiths)
15. mesiodistally short upper and lower molars with large mesial and
truncated distal cusps (autapomorphic)
16. relatively long ilium with beaklike anterior superior iliac spine
(great apes, SK 50, MLD 7 and 25)
17. poorly defined iliac pillar (australopiths)
18. knoblike anterior inferior iliac spine superior to above and back
over supra-acetabular rim (hominids)
19. long anteiorposterioly compressed femoral neck (Orrorin,
australopiths, WT 15000)
20. weakly developed linea aspersa (Orrorin)
21. tibia much shorter than femur (at least apes)
22. medial tibial faced for femoral condyle lower than lateral (at least
23. convex medial tibial facet (at least apes)

Schwartz notes that while the external skull may seem to be hominid the
internal morphologies are odd. The teeth by themselves are not
necessarily hominid, the tibia is definitely not, the femur is Orrorin
like, and the partial os cox is somewhat australopith like.


Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science and Collections

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372




Ghost moth research


Human evolution and the great apes




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