More Hobbit Controversy

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.

Tuesday Blogscan 11-03-2008

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


My opinion of '10,000 B.C'

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.

News Briefs 10-03-2008

Neither safe nor free - just pwned, at our own expense.

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.

Ignoring Stonehenge

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.

Weekend Blogscan 08-03-2008

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


Hobbit War Continues

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.

World Mysteries Forum 2008

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.

News Briefs 07-03-2008

This is the end, my only friend, the end...

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.

Edward Condon

Dean Radin Video Thoughts

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.