Flores bones suggests new `hobbit` human had Down`s syndrome

A reanalysis of the flores bones have revealed that what they called as new `hobbit` human might just had a Down`s Syndrome and was not a distinct species.

ANI| Last Updated: Aug 05, 2014, 12:40 PM IST

Washington: A reanalysis of the flores bones have revealed that what they called as new `hobbit` human might just had a Down`s Syndrome and was not a distinct species.

In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called "the most important find in human evolution for 100 years." Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human.
Now detailed reanalysis by an international team of researchers including Robert B. Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolution at Penn State, Maciej Henneberg, professor of anatomy and pathology at the University of Adelaide, and Kenneth Hsu, a Chinese geologist and paleoclimatologist, suggests that the single specimen on which the new designation depends, known as LB1, does not represent a new species.

Instead, it was the skeleton of a developmentally abnormal human and, according to the researchers, contained important features most consistent with a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Initial descriptions of Homo floresiensis focused on LB1`s unusual anatomical characteristics: a cranial volume reported as only 380 milliliters suggesting a brain less than one third the size of an average modern human`s and short thigh bones, which were used to reconstruct a creature standing 1.06 meters. Although LB1 lived only 15,000 years ago, comparisons were made to earlier hominins, including Homo erectus and Australopithecus. Other traits were characterized as unique and therefore indicative of a new species.

The two papers are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.