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Along with the ‘Mars water’ controversy (see my news briefs today), the case of the Indonesian ‘Hobbit’ (Homo floresiensis) has been one of the most high profile science stories of the past few years – and as with the Mars water, every few months opinion seems to flip-flop. Today, the authenticity of the ‘Hobbit’ is back in favour (and by authenticity, I mean the opinion that it is a distinct species):

Much of the contention has been over the skull of a one-metre tall female with a grapefruit-sized brain known as LB1. Detractors argue the skull came from a modern human with microcephaly, a brain-shrinking disorder.

But a team of scientists using laser imaging to study LB1’s wrist bones said the anatomy was very primitive, much more like apes and older human ancestors, than modern humans.

…Dr Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist from the Smithsonian Institute who led the study, said the wrist evidence “was a smoking gun”.

“It tells us these hobbits are legitimate, they’re a real distinct hominin species, not modern humans with some sort of pathology.”

Let’s see if this is the last word in the matter (I doubt it…you know how scientists are about new ideas).