Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Whence Homo floresiensis? Clues From The Brain." By Dean Falk, Florida State University

During the 7th Human Evolution Symposium, Hobbits in the Haystack: Homo floresiensis and Human Evolution at Stony Brook, Dean Falk presented her lecture entitled "Whence Homo floresiensis? Clues from the Brain". She concluded that Homo floresiensis is a species of its own, LB1 did not suffer from microcephaly and Homo floresiensis is not a diminutive form of Homo erectus or Homo sapiens.

Falk commented that LB1 had a small-sized but "fancy" brain and that there was a "global reorganization" of the brain. Comparing LB1 with 9 modern human microcephalic skulls, Falk came to the conclusion that LB1's skull is nothing alike from a microcephalic and that LB1 was not a microcephalic.

A computer image depicts the brains (red) of a microcephalic modern human (left), and the fossil specimen of the Homo floresiensis (right). Microcephalics are also called "pinheads" due to the "pin-like" shape of their frontal lobe. Photo from National Geographic.

The shape of LB1's brain matches closely to those of Homo habilis. Falk thinks that LB1 might share ancestral history with Homo habilis and australopithecines. This is due to the characteristics that are found in LB1's brain.

Falk ended her lecture by talking about "insular dwarfism". Brain size and relative body size shrinks proportionately in the case of insular dwarfism. In the case of Homo floresiensis, its brain size did not shrink proportionately with its relative body size when compared to Homo erectus or Homo sapiens (based on the argument that Homo floresiensis is a diminutive version of Homo erectus or Homo sapiens)

1 comment:

James said...

Convened by Richard Leakey, the symposium was an all day event where researchers share their findings on Homo floresiensis. The highlight of the symposium is the first ever complete cast of LB1, or Flo and a host of Homo floresiensis researchers.