National Geographic has a breaking story about tiny ancient human skeletons having been discovered on the Pacific island of Palau (also: video story). However, the skeletons are not considered to be evidence for a new species - as is claimed with the Flores 'hobbits' - but instead the size of the individuals has been put down to insular dwarfism. This has led to more questions about whether the Flores hobbit is really unique.
However, a number of scientists have pointed out that the new discoveries differ in their morphology to the Hobbit skeletons. Dean Falk, anthropologist at Florida State University, summed it up succinctly:
The Palauan remains, she added, are just a set of small bones, representing small-bodied people. "But being small does not make one comparable to Homo floresiensis," she noted. "It makes one small — period."
The new debate comes hot on the heels of the controversy I noted last week, with the suggestion that the 'Hobbits' were perhaps just outcast dwarf cretins.
A strange assortment to get you through the week...
- Loren Coleman takes you on the road as he searches for the river monster known as "Pinky".
- Ufological legend Dr Jacques Vallee was this week's guest on the Paracast.
- At Cabinet of Wonders, Emps looks at possible earthquake lights sighted during the recent UK trembler.
- This week on BoA Audio Tim talks to Dr Bob Curran about lost lands and forgotten realms (mp3/podcast download, or streaming via Flash).
- Jeff Wells waxes lyrical from the vasty deep to Texas UFOs, in "The Deep Ones and the Madness of Crowds" (at Rigorous Intuition).
- Reality Sandwich has "Old Struggles on a New Earth", by Daniel Pinchbeck.
- Mac Tonnies suggests SETI should think like an alien.
- Regan Lee dissects "The Scientology Meme at her OrangeOrb blog.
- Skeptic Randi's latest newsletter is now online.
- UFO Casebook #297 is now online.
- Apollo astronaut and founder of IONS Dr Edgar Mitchell was interviewed on Dreamland Radio last weekend.
- Anthony North offers a short bio on influential 'occult' author Colin Wilson.
I went last Sunday to the movies, to see 10,000 B.C., along with the only person in my family that actually enjoys those kinds of flicks: my nephew :-)
What did I think of it? I enjoyed it. It's packed with lots of excitement and eye-candy. It will definitely not be remembered in the annals of cinema as the most compelling story, but I believe that for the average Grailer this flick will have many interesting things, if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and remember you are not seeing a National Geographic documentary.
Because obviously, there are a lot of mistakes done in the movie. For instance, all the paleo-creatures presented are freakishly huge —the saber-toothed tiger, which obviously cannot be a smilodon, for those felids were exclusive of America, is twice the size of a Bengal tiger, now that's some scary kitty!— They also assume in this movie that wooly mammoths had a patriarchal hierarchy, when all the modern pachiderms we know have mathriarcal societies —in other words, elephants are just like us, women are in charge of things :-)
Geographically speaking, this movie is a mess.
Neither safe nor free - just pwned, at our own expense.
- Stephenville resident David Coran's full videotape of 'UFO symbols' was leaked to the Internet on March 5, 2008. The light-show starts about one minute in.
- Neanderthal treasure trove survives in pristine condition at the bottom of the North Sea.
- Astronauts to assemble monstrous robot aboard ISS.
- Doritos and UK astronomers to broadcast first advert to extraterrestrials: Ask British public to submit 30-second videos about life on earth.
- A brief history of time machines.
- 17-month-old girl can read better than most 10 year olds; experts ignore parents' pleas for advice.
- Eight-year-old Brazilian boy passes law school entrance exam.
- Researchers are popping pills to gain an edge.
- Drug giant Pfizer tries to force medical journal to reveal anonymous sources.
- Microdrone: unmanned spy helicopter captures high-quality video footage and infrared imagery from more than 350ft away, beams the data back to its operators, and squirts criminals with a liquid marker so they can later be identified by police.
- Soon to be everywhere - airports, malls, sporting events: new camera can see through your clothes from 80 feet away to detect weapons, drugs and even explosives.
- CCTV busting infra-red headset obscures wearer's identity.
- DARPA is well on its way to creating an army of cyborg insects.
- Google caves to Pentagon, pulls images taken on public streets near US military bases. Meanwhile...
- Since 2001, thousands of confidential US Air Force e-mails, some including flight plans for Air Force One, have continued to be mistakenly sent to a British factory worker's travel website. Wired's Threat Level says somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.
- Air Force Cyber Command's New Weapon: a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube, demanding the removal of the 30-second spot the Air Force created to promote its nascent Cyber Command.
- You think you are free?
- How Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax laid the foundations for our geek-heavy culture.
- In South Carolina, something chewed up the whole front half of a van. Check that second video link. More.
- As if Colony Collapse Disorder isn't bad enough, honeybees now face a new threat -- rustlers.
- Encyclopedia of Life: 'Wikipedia for biodiversity' goes online.
- Builder buried alive for two hours says he survived by using Buddhist meditation techniques to slow his breathing.
- A wise old man talked to us for two hours, showed us special magical texts, and rang up our books, but was invisible to everyone else.
Quote of the Day:
We humans are not as civilized as we would like to think. The world population more than doubled since 1975 to over six billion people. We are consuming Earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate. Our global natural resource base cannot support a population of more than two billion persons consuming at the level of Western cultures. Clearly, major changes in thinking and lifestyles are required as developing nations naturally aspire to the consumption of the West. Yet our political system is now punishing dissent, freedom of inquiry and efforts at preservation, tactics certain to worsen the drive toward sustainability.
Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, in an article on Sustainability and the Pressing Need to Raise Our Collective Consciousness.
The Guardian Online has an excellent opinion piece titled "The final insult", which asks a very good question - why is Stonehenge not treated by officials as being on a par with other great ancient sites such as the Giza pyramids?
The first view of Stonehenge as you approach from Salisbury is a clutter of what looks like scrap metal. It reminded me of a rural junk yard, but on closer inspection this turns out to be the Stonehenge car park. You can see why English Heritage feels the need to apologise to visitors before they even reach the turnstile; plaques acknowledge the unsatisfactory state of Stonehenge and describe, with beautiful diagrams of an underground museum and visitors' centre, the utopian near-future. None of this is now going to happen.
I was lucky enough to visit Stonehenge at first light on a Spring morning (some ten years ago to the day). The morning mist slowly cleared to reveal stark, grassy terrain and a monument that, quite simply, encapsulated the word "ancient". It was a wonderful space to be in, and I can only hope that more people in future get to experience it - whether at Stonehenge, or other wonderful 'sacred sites' in the United Kingdom.
In the writer's words, "Stonehenge has been talked down by the experts. And now the philistines have an excuse to treat it as if it was nothing special." That truly would be a crime.
A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- At Paranormalia, Robert McLuhan investigates "Animals and Earthquakes".
- Mac Tonnies takes on the oil and water mix of "The SETI Institute and UFOs".
- The latest 'Aqua Corner' podcast interview at Filip Coppens' website is with famed 'ayahuasca anthropologist' Jeremy Narby, author of the The Cosmic Serpent (Amazon US and UK).
- Daniel Pinchbeck and Sharon Gannon go toe-to-toe in this video recording of their co-presentation "Asanas and Ayahuasca" (Google video).
- Paul Kimball takes to the infamous Condon Report on UFOs with a hatchet.
- At Cabinet of Wonders, Emps continues his exploration of the occult during wartime, discussing the recent news that the Allies were "Studying the Nazi's Stars".
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter features Michael Shermer's LA Times op-ed on Scientology.
- Greg Bishop discusses the infamous 'Aviary' which sits at the heart of many-a-UFO-conspiracy.
- Transhumanist pundit George Dvorsky educates with "Seven Ways to Control the Galaxy with Self-Replicating Probes".
- Intangible Materiality waxes philosophical with paranormal happenings in "Some Musings on Quantum Events".
- The CFZ's Jon Downes guest-blogs at UFO Mystic, discussing "The Island of Mystery".
- Aintitcool.com has some harsh words in its review of 10,000 BC.
- Greg.org (not related to me) unveils the secret history of "The Moon Museum".
- Diana Reed Slattery offers "Xenolinguistics I: Aspects of Alien Art" at Reality Sandwich.
- It's business as usual for the million dollar challenge in Randi's latest newsletter.
- Anthony North offers an entree of "Cannibalism" at Beyond the Blog.
- Curious Expeditions looks at the history of hermaphrodites in "A Curiosity of the Sexes".
- Filer's Files #10 for 2008 has the latest ufological round-up.
The controversy over the Flores 'hobbit' discovery continues, with publication of a new paper (full text pdf download) arguing that the alleged new species was actually a colony of outcast, dwarf cretins:
The scientists who originally discovered the remains hailed them as representing a heretofore unknown species, Homo floresiensis, that lived at the same time as modern humans 18,000 years ago. Since then researchers have squared off against each other, poring over skeletal traits, regional histories, and the medical literature to argue for or against the unique-species designation.
Peter Obendorf of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, decided to enter the fray after noticing the hobbits looked similar to people with a disorder of the thyroid gland called cretinism. Cretinism can cause dwarfing and mental retardation, and is related to nutritional deficiencies, primarily a lack of iodine.
"Very quickly I found there were some quite surprising similarities between the dwarf cretins and these little people of Flores," Obendorf said.
The new hypothesis is the latest attempt to explain away the 'new species' via a medical condition. Despite initial skepticism towards the Flores discovery, it may be finally making some ground though, with a number of researchers attacking the new paper as being weak in evidence. More at the Sydney Morning Herald, including quotes from the University of New England scientists who discovered the hobbits.
The fourth annual World Mysteries Forum will be held in Basel, Switzerland on the weekend of 10th and 11th May 2008. The speakers lined up included a number of international scientists and thinkers discussing cutting-edge theory and discoveries. Presenters include panspermia expert Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Biocosm author James N. Gardner, and pre-Inca researcher Renate Patzschke, M.A. Fun topics, in a beautiful setting, at the perfect time of year.
This is the end, my only friend, the end...
- Scientists identify origin of hiss in upper atmosphere. Don't tell me, it's a weather balloon coming down.
- Second Life avatars and Brazilians: the same carbon footprint.
- Speaking of Brazilian carbon underfoot, Arc of Fire aims to prevent new wave of deforestation.
- More on the exopolitics at the UN.
- Astrobiology: when will they start teaching that at school? The field trips would be out of this world!
- Fancy a one-way, solo trip to Mars? You could always hitch a ride back home with the Martians.
- Steve Fossett - yet another Pilot Doppelganger?
- Holographic Prince Charles explains jet trip that wasn't...
- Black box had 'presentiment' of 9/11.
- Stonehenge sentinel? or prehistoric rent-a-cop to keep the hippies out?
- And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks: a tale of misadventure from Kerouac and Burroughs is finally published.
- A chip off the old block? Saturn's moon Rhea may also have rings.
- Tree of life uprooted by comb jellies.
- Butterflies remember caterpillar experiences. (Eating leaf, eating leaf, take a crap, eating leaf, oh shite a bird!, Eating leaf, eating leaf...)
- Thinking with the body. I know where my brain is located.
- Brain scanner can tell what you're looking at. So can most young ladies I meet.
- OECD: World must act on climate change while we can afford it, but corporate social responsibility already under pressure from credit crunch.
- The Grand Canyon is three times older than previously thought.
- Microsoft Research gives 'outsiders' a look inside the doors of its magical kingdom.
Thanks to all
Quote of the Day:
We have no evidence of secrecy concerning UFO reports. What has been miscalled secrecy has been no more than an intelligent policy of delay in releasing data so that the public does not become confused by premature publication of incomplete studies of reports.
Parapsychologist Dr Dean Radin has been interviewed by the Global Oneness Project, and their website offers short videos in which Dean gives his thoughts on various topics. Everything from global consciousness to quantum physics is covered, and it's certainly thought-provoking stuff - a little more speculative thinking than you usually get from Dean's talks on psi (where he presents scientific evidence in more detail). I've embedded one of the videos here on TDG: "A Quantum View of the World". This one really resonated with me, exploring the idea that the cosmos is more about information than matter. Head over to the Global Oneness Project website to view the rest.