“Hobbit” might have been human suffering from stunted growth

HobbitLondon, March 5: A new theory has emerged about the identity of the small human skeleton called “Hobbit”, found on the island of Flores in Indonesia, suggesting that it is not from a new species, but from a Homo sapiens with cretinism — a condition in which a person is born with a deficient thyroid gland.

According to a report in Nature News, Peter Obendorf of RMIT University in Melbourne and his colleagues have determined that the cast images of the fossil shows an impression, called a fossa, of an enlarged pituitary gland at the base of the skull behind the nasal region.

This, they said, is evidence that the skeleton is not from a new species, called Homo floresiensis, but from a Homo sapiens with cretinism, in which people often have an enlarged pituitary gland as well as severely stunted growth and a small brain.

Since the discovery in 2003 of the skull and partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis , the anthropology community has sprouted numerous theories to explain its characteristics.

Just over 1 metre tall, the 18,000-year-old creature had a brain one-quarter the size of modern humans and primitive skeletal features similar to those of earlier human relatives. Stone tools have also been found in the same cave.

Though palaeoanthropologist Peter Brown and archaeologist Michael Morwood, both from the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, state that the skeleton is a new species, new evidence indicates it to be wrong.

Teuku Jacob, a palaeoanthropologist from Indonesia, initially analysed the bones and decided that the creature, known as ‘the hobbit’, was in fact a human who had a developmental disorder called microcephaly, in which the head is smaller than usual.

Last year, an Israeli team also published a report proposing that the hobbit had a growth disorder called Laron syndrome. (ANI)