Anthropologists Karen Baab from Stony Brook University Medical Center and Kieran McNulty from University of Minnesota published "Size, shape, and asymmetry in fossil hominins: The status of the LB1 cranium based on 3D morphometric analyses" in the Journal of Human Evolution last July. Click for .pdf version of the article.
Photo from the Science MuseumUsing principal components analysis in shape space and in Procrustes form space, they shrank skulls of modern humans, fossil hominins and apes proportionate to their body so that they can use these new simulated models to compare LB1's skull. They found that LB1's skull closely resembles those of the genus Homo, too different to be those of modern human but close enough to be related to Homo erectus or something more primitive.
"You can't just make things bigger or smaller," McNulty explains. "When things change size, they need different mechanical properties." Or, there could be certain spatial requirements for the brain. A host of factors determine the proportions of the "shrunken" skull.They concluded from their study that LB1 was more primitive than those of the Asian Homo erectus and perhaps LB1 (Homo florensiensis) was a descendent of a hominin population that predates Asian Homo erectus which underwent a process of size reduction.
Read the press releases from University of Minnesota and Stony Brook University.
I think a lot of people see LB1 as modern human because the skull looks like a shrunken modern human skull. They try to explain why LB1 is so small in stature, from microcephaly to dwarfism. But sometimes looks can be deceptive. LB1 might look like a modern human but it's not. I think that Homo floresiensis is a species of its own and it seems that more and more evidence is surfacing to prove so.